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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ohio AG sues University Painters

Ohio Attorney General and Republican Gubernatorial hopeful Jim Petro has sued Virginia based Maxco Development, Inc. d/b/a University Painters and two company officers. Press Release:




Petro Sues Virginia Company For Scamming College Student Workers

March 9, 2006



COLUMBUS – Attorney General Jim Petro today sued a Virginia company for deceiving Ohio college students into paying thousands of dollars for a business opportunity -- selling house painting services -- that held no realistic promise of profit, violating 14 sections of Ohio law that protect consumers and business-opportunity purchasers.


Petro filed the lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court against Maxco Development, Inc. (doing business as University Painters) and company officers Joshua D. Jablon and Thomas F. Torres, all of Alexandria, Virginia, alleging numerous violations of the state’s Business Opportunity Purchaser’s Protection Act and Consumer Sales Practices Act. Attempts to mediate more than a dozen open complaints his office received about the company have failed, he said.


“Students sign the University Painters contract thinking they will learn to manage a business and earn money, but they end up deep in debt with regular calls from collection attorneys,” Petro said. “This company preys on the inexperience and trusting nature of young people, and our lawsuit will bring them to account for that.” He said University Painters is reportedly recruiting now on college campuses in Ohio for the coming summer.


Petro asked the court for an injunction against the company, civil penalties totaling more than $300,000, and financial repayment to 13 students who told the Attorney General they were duped into paying the company thousands of dollars before realizing they had no realistic chance to profit from the venture.


According to the suit, the company violated state law by pressuring the students to pay the company roughly $3,000 for marketing materials and “logistical support” and misrepresenting the students’ legal right to back out of the contract during a standard “cooling off” period. Afterward, when the students failed to meet the unrealistic sales goals set for them, the company enforced monetary claims against them by invoking a “confession-of-judgment” clause in their contract, a ploy that put the students at an unfair disadvantage and is illegal in Ohio, the suit said.


Ohio’s Business Opportunity Purchaser’s Protection Act protects citizens attracted to promises of help in starting a business in exchange for making large initial down payments. The state’s Consumer Sales Practices Act prohibits sellers from misrepresenting the nature of their business, products or services; the price of their goods; or the terms of the transaction.


Consumers may file complaints with Attorney General Jim Petro’s office online at www.ag.state.oh.us or by calling 1-800-282-0515.


(Editors: Some complainants in this case have agreed to be interviewed for this story. Contact Mark Anthony at phone number listed below.)




For Additional Information on this Press Release:


CONTACT: Mark Anthony, Attorney General’s Office, at (614) 466-3840


Related: According to the Progressive Blog Alliance, the career services office of Duquesne University sent an e-mail to its students and recent graduates warning them of and providing a list of questionable companies, of which University Painters is one.


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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

FOX 5 also investigated University Painters. Here is the link to the 5 Minute 5 Video Segment:

http://www.myfoxny.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=214662&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=3.1.1

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thousands of students have participated in the Unviersity Painters program with great success and unfortunately the failed business experience of a few grabbed the attention of a very political Attorney General's office in Ohio. Fox 5 was only too happy to run the story for ratings only.

Wait for the final outcome of this suit related to a handful of Ohio students against one University Painters location. Hundreds of University Painters locations over 20 years experience great results.

Don't rush to judgment on this one.

Hear students in their own words describe their positive life altering experiences at http://www.universitypainters.com/audiointerviews.html

10:18 PM  
Blogger Alvin Borromeo said...

Fair enough. As Fox News says, "we report, you decide."

There's always at least two sides to the story. Of course, when you post to blogs anonymously, it's hard to tell what side you're on. It's possible the first commentor is a disgruntled student or client, and the second one is either someone from University Painters or a PR firm that they hired.

Who knows. I'm just speculating.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a consumer who just used University Painters (in Virginia) and was not completely satisfied with their services, I am very angry to find that I overpaid simply to line the pockets of the University Painters corporation. Here I thought I was hiring a group directly from their company, when in reality they simply hire out (contract out) the job to another small painting company. I could have easily gone directly to them myself. The University Painter's "salesman/manager" was not present throughout the entire process and he is now not willing to take responsibility for an unsatisfactory job.

Save your money and find a local painting company!

4:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We also had problems with University Painters. They took our deposite of $1600. And never finished started the project. They refused to change the contract after several contractors came to look at the job and said they couldn't do it for what University Painters wanted to pay them. This was 3 years ago. I spoke directly to the president of the company and he told me to bring my lawyers if I wanted my money back.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like lots of folks both consumers and students are having trouble with this Company. Here are some links that I found relevant to the arguments:

1.) YouTube Video of the FOX 5 Broadcast Exposing Josh Jablon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a2OUeL5G2Q

2.) A report all the way back from 2000 which explains how the company is entering contracts in bad faith with the sole intent to deceive students.

http://www.providencephoenix.com/archive/features/00/09/14/PAINT.html

3.) A website called UniversityPaintersScam.com which has a myriad of articles that looks at the scam in depth and in furhter detail than anywhere else.

http://www.universitypaintersscam.com/

4.) If you contact the Maryland Attorney General they will provide you with a document from 2003 signed by CEO Josh Jablon and VP Tom Torres admitting guilt and settling all disputes with students that originated in the state of Maryland. They also agreed to cease and desist their practices in that state. Instead they now go by the name Chevy Chase Painting in Maryland with Tom Torres as the CEO.

So, while the Company alleges there are thousands of success stories, the evidence claims otherwise. Also look at the terms the Ohio Attorney General is using in its media releases. They are saying they are "anxious to take the case to trial" most lawyers try to avoid trial. The Ohio Attorney General clearly has many smoking guns on this Company that they want exposed to the world so civil litigation can successfully commence once all the details are exposed.

The sick thing is, the CEO's wife is the Chief of Staff for Congressman Richard E. Neal. So here we are paying her with tax payer dollars, yet suing her husband with tax payer dollars. Only in America!

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Come on now. "Thousands have participated with great success." Do you care to substantiate that comment with verifiable fact? Of course not.

The fact is, the majority of students do not have success with the system, which is the reason why the company has come under so much heat and lawsuits. In fact, University Painters and CEO Josh Jablon signed a document with the State of Maryland's attorney general's office in which they admit their fault.

Colleges are wising up and banning the company from recruiting their students.

This doesn't happen to a reputable company.

Check out the website that is exposing them:

www.universitypaintersscam.com

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maxco Development, Inc. (the only University Painters licensee/franchisee sued by the AG in Ohio) was awarded summary judgment in its favor. All claims against Maxco Developmet Inc. by the state under the Consumer Sales Practices act have been dismissed. The individuals that were initially named in the suit (Jablon & Torres) have also been dismissed from the case by Judge Pheiffer.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regard to the suit in OH being dismissed via Summary Judgment this appears to be false. According to the case record the suit is set to go to trial in November.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the status of this case? And what is going on with Jablon/University Painters now? Are they out of business?

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is this case?

10:26 PM  

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