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Geoff Greenwood, Communications Director
515-281-6699, geoff.greenwood@iowa.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 14, 2014

Judge Bans Urbandale Magazine Telemarketer from Calling Iowans

Miller alleged that Legion Marketing Service and owners duped consumers into high cost, long-term subscriptions

(DES MOINES, Iowa) A Polk County judge today barred an Urbandale magazine sales operation from telemarketing to Iowans and calling consumers in any state from Iowa.

District Court Judge Michael D. Huppert ordered Legion Marketing Service LLC and its owners, Christopher Bright and Brandy Bright, to refrain from any future marketing calls to or from Iowa.  The defendants also must cancel balances owed by consumers who complain or previously complained about the company’s practices.

The defendants denied wrongdoing or liability.

“This operation used misleading ploys to make consumers think they were dealing with the business that was already handling the household’s magazine subscriptions,” Miller said.  “Many consumers who thought they were updating an existing subscription arrangement, or benefiting from a promotion offered by a company that was already serving them, unexpectedly found themselves saddled with multi-year contracts with an unfamiliar business, involving payments of more than a thousand dollars.”

Legion Marketing formed after, in August 2010, a predecessor called Heartland Inc. was prohibited from telemarketing to or from Iowa after Miller alleged Heartland used deceptive practices.

That same month, Heartland employees Chris and Brandy Bright started a similar operation in Urbandale.  According to Miller, the defendants used similar abusive tactics that Heartland used.

“These operations deceived and abused consumers, generating many complaints,” Miller said.  “Now that Legion’s owners are banned from this business and have closed their doors, we’re going to follow-up with some of the telemarketers that had worked for Legion, to make sure another successor does not rise from the ashes.”

Miller alleged unfair and deceptive practices, including telemarketers asking survey-type questions to “update” company records, which furthered consumers’ false impressions that Legion was already involved in handling their subscriptions.  Legion then used credit card and other information gathered through this ruse for billing.  Even worse, according to Miller, when many consumers complained to Legion about unauthorized charges, the company responded with heavy-handed collection efforts.

“The court order we obtained requires the defendants to immediately write-off the remaining obligation of any consumer who complains or has complained about Legion’s practices,” Miller said.  “If a consumer runs into problems, he or she should contact our Consumer Protection Division.”

The order provides for penalties of up to $40,000 per violation of the court order.  A willful violation could result in contempt of court and up to six months in jail.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Consumer Protection Division through the Attorney General’s website at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov or email directly to consumer@iowa.gov.  Consumers can also call the Consumer Protection Division at 515-281-5926, or outside the Des Moines area, toll free, at 1-888-777-4590.

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