Office Supply Telemarketer Settles FTC Charge

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An office supply telemarketer agreed to refund customers and cease collections on unpaid past shipments as part of a settlement of charges filed by the Federal Trade Commission, the FTC said this week.

General Supply Centers Inc. was a target of an FTC lawsuit in "Operation Misprint" in December 1999, when the agency started a crackdown on "bogus office and maintenance supply telemarketing schemes," the FTC said. The company failed to disclose its true identity in telemarketing solicitations and misrepresented itself to prospects as their regular supplier of photocopier toner, according to the FTC.

After the initial charges were filed, a judge froze the company's assets and placed it in receivership. Since then, the company has turned over about $165,000 in checks to customers and paid $110,000 in court-approved claims to customers.

The final settlement, approved by a judge April 16 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, provides for full payment of claims by former customers of the company. It also bans Mark E. Gershick, the company's owner and president, from telemarketing and selling non-durable office supplies.


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