Attorney General Sam Olens announced that the Superior Court of Cobb County has entered a judgment for over $1.3 million and a permanent injunction against both Mechanics Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC (“Mechanics”), and its owner, Monty G. White, Jr.
Following an extensive investigation by the State Law Department’s Consumer Protection Unit, the State’s complaint showed that the Defendants violated Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act in at least 263 instances. These included posting fake favorable customer reviews on various websites, including Yelp.com, Kudzu.com, and Google+Local.com. The State further established that Mechanics and White instructed their repair technicians to inflate consumers’ repair bills by charging for products and services not actually needed. When the Defendants learned that certain consumers had complained about these practices to the Better Business Bureau or to regulatory agencies, they retaliated by creating “attack” websites, including one entitled “DirtyCustomer.com,” on which they posted harassing and intimidating remarks about the consumers.
“Deliberately dishonest, deceptive and intimidating tactics such as these hurt consumers and steer business away from legitimate companies. Our office will do whatever it can to protect consumers from activities like these,” said Attorney General Olens.
The judgment was entered on September 8th, 2015. Mechanics and White were ordered to pay civil penalties to the State of Georgia in the amount of $1,315,000.00, along with court costs and attorneys’ fees. In addition, the Defendants must permanently cease and desist from doing business in the heating and air conditioning industry within the State of Georgia, and surrender all business and trade licenses. Monty White must also dissolve the corporate status of all entities named in the Court’s most recent Order, also including Teldar Staffing Services, LLC; Rhino Asset Management, LLC; Mechanic’s Responds.com News, LLC; Jupiter Asset Management, LLC; and HVAC Consulting Services, LLC. Finally, the Defendants have been ordered to remove all content and cease all use of 62 websites that were being used for the purpose of harassing consumers.