Florida Attorney General Targets Service Merchandise

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A complaint has been filed in Leon County Circuit Court by Florida Attorney General, Bob Butterworth alleging violation of the state's sweepstakes law in January and February of 1998.

Sources indicate Butterworth is targeting Service Merchandise with failure to award consumers with promised travel and electronic merchandise prizes in connection with a Valentine's Day sweepstakes. The suit also accuses the company of illegally requiring customers to make a product purchase in order to participate in the promotion.

Laura Ellis, communications supervisor at Service Merchandise Co. Inc., Nashville, Tenn., said the company is unable comment on pending litigation. She would not indicate whether or not the company had been the subject of sweepstakes rules violations by other state's Attorney General.

In accordance with the sunshine state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the Florida Attorney General could pursue penalities as high as $10,000 for each incidence.

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