Summary of Action

As a result of receiving several consumer complaints, TINA.org launched an investigation into Bob’s Discount Furniture’s offer of “interest free” financing. What it found — through store visits, speaking with consumers, and reviewing internal training and financial documents provided by Bob’s, among other things — is that the store deceptively advertises its financing by failing to make some critical facts clear to consumers.

First, at the point of sale, Bob’s does not clearly disclose that if consumers do not pay their balance off by the selected time period, then interest will be back-charged from the date of purchase and the interest rate imposed is an exorbitant 27.99%. In addition, and perhaps worse, consumers who select the “interest free” financing and pay every monthly bill they receive in full and on time will inevitably still have an amount due by the end of the deadline, and thus will owe interest despite having selected “interest free” financing. This is because Bob’s appears to set customers up for failure by issuing monthly bills that do not add up to the total amount due.

TINA.org sent a warning letter to the company on September 22, 2014, explaining its findings and asking that it make timely changes to its point-of-sale advertising of the financing terms. Though the company provided some documentation in response, the materials did not contradict TINA.org’s findings or indicate that Bob’s was going to make any changes. Accordingly, on November 19, 2014, TINA.org filed a complaint letter with the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, as well as the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, requesting that state authorities take action to halt Bob’s deceptive marketing.  As a result, the Department of Consumer Protection investigated and requested that the company make revisions to the signs promoting the “interest free” financing offer, as well as the monthly invoices sent to customers.

Then, six months after Bob’s was supposed to have revised its marketing materials for the “interest free” financing offer, TINA.org revisited several Bob’s store locations in Connecticut and found that deceptive marketing is still in use despite the company’s assurances to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.  Accordingly, on November 18, 2015, TINA.org sent a letter to the company notifying it of the continuous problem in an effort to prompt Bob’s to fully and immediately correct the issues throughout all of its stores.

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