December 18, 1996
Unscrupulous electronics stores are ripping off consumers by using misleading ads, reselling used goods as new and other shady sales practices, city officials charged yesterday.
Following a three-week probe, the city hit 30 stores with more than 1,100 alleged violations of consumer laws — and announced plans to yank the licenses of several shops.
Ten of the stores, most in the midtown tourist and shopping area, racked up more than 50 violations each on charges that they bilked consumers.
“Although most of the businesses . . . are reputable places that do a good job and offer decent prices, there are some that have a history of violations and a history of fraud and a history of trying to rip people off and trying to take advantage of them during this time of year,” Mayor Giuliani said.
Joined by Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jose Maldonado, the mayor warned shoppers to beware of where and what they buy.
City inspectors who checked electronic stores around the city found some practicing bait-and-switch tactics — advertising products that are not in stock and then offering buyers more expensive merchandise.
Inspectors also found electronics retailers that offered items for sale above the manufacturers’ suggested retail price.
The alleged violators — 30 of the 40 stores checked by investigators — face fines as high as $500 per violation.
It’s easy to get taken, said Serge Naggar of Manhattan.
He said two salesmen at Marquis Galleries Ltd. on Lexington Ave. last June sold his wife a personal information manager different from the one she wanted, insisting it was the correct item.
When she returned to the store, employees at first offered a more expensive product, then refused to provide a refund or credit toward another purchase.
It took intervention by the state and city before the couple finally got their money back.
Marquis Galleries — hit with 102 alleged consumer violations — led the 10-store rogues’ gallery of shops where inspectors found the most problems.
The five worst offenders:
Marquis Galleries Ltd., 519 Lexington Ave., Manhattan. (102 violations)
Sharper Photo & Electronics Corp., 520 Fifth Ave., Manhattan. (89 violations)
Zion’s Electronic Corp., 66 E. Fordham Road, Bronx. (85 violations)
Golden Temple Funding, 885 Sixth Ave., Manhattan. (77 violations)
Rainbow Camera, 875 Sixth Ave. Manhattan. (76 violations)
Source: New York City Department of Consumer Affairs