North Carolina Department of Justice
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Carpet DryClean to quit illegal telemarketing, says AG Cooper

Release date: 6/28/2004

Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today that Carpet DryClean, Inc. of Raleigh has agreed to stop using illegal recorded messages in its sales calls to Triangle residents and to abide by all telemarketing laws.

“Not only are these prerecorded calls illegal and annoying, but they cause real problems for seniors who depend on their phone as a lifeline,” said Cooper. “Simply hanging up doesn’t end these calls, so we went to court to make this company stop.”

Under terms of a consent judgment approved today by Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood, Carpet DryClean and its owner and manager Preston E. Laughinghouse must stop using automatically dialed, prerecorded telemarketing pitches and will pay $25,000 to the state. Carpet DryClean has also agreed to dispose of the equipment it used to make pre-recorded telemarketing calls and to comply with all laws that govern telemarketing, including North Carolina’s Do Not Call law. In addition, the company will pay a penalty of $5,000 per illegal call for any future violations of the judgment.

As alleged in the complaint filed by Cooper in October 2002, Carpet DryClean began promoting its carpet cleaning service through telemarketing sometime in or before 1999. The company automatically dialed telephone numbers and then played a lengthy recorded sales pitch that often filled up consumers’ answering machines or voice mail. Prerecorded marketing calls are illegal in North Carolina unless a live operator first asks if the consumer wants to hear the taped message. Consumers who received these calls from Carpet DryClean reported that no live person introduced the sales pitch and that the recording did not disconnect when they hung up the phone.

At one point, consumers reported that the company’s message failed to disclose information about how to contact the company at the beginning of the recorded message. That forced people who wanted to be taken off the Carpet DryClean call list to listen to the entire, lengthy sales pitch. In many cases, consumers who waited through the message, contacted the company and asked to be removed from the call list continued to receive calls.

The Attorney General was assisted by the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina in collecting consumer complaints about calls from Carpet DryClean. A total of 52 consumers have complained about the calls.

To cut down on telemarketing calls, consumers can sign up for the Registry by visiting www.nocallsnc.com or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the number they wish to register. A total of 1.9 million North Carolina numbers have been placed on the list since it began in July 2003. Consumers who have signed up can report telemarketers who call them to Cooper’s office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within the state or by going to the website.

“People across our state have taken steps to keep telemarketers from bothering them at home,” said Cooper, “But if the telemarketers keep calling, we want to hear about it so that we can put a stop to these unwanted calls.”