Royal Prestige cookware and other targeted Hy Cite brands
Latin American communities refused to let them return expensive goods
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today obtained $300,000 from a kitchenware company, Hy Cite Enterprises, LLC (Hy Cite), for failing to clearly disclose their refund policies in their contracts with thousands of consumers in predominantly Spanish-speaking communities in the whole state. Hy Cite, which owns the Royal Prestige and Kitchen Charm brands and uses door-to-door marketing, told customers they only had three working days to return products when attempting to make returns. However, the Home Sales Protection Act requires companies that don’t have a refund policy to give consumers 20 days to return home sales. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that Hy Cite’s contracts did not clearly disclose a refund policy and did not allow consumers to make returns within the 20-day period. As a result of today’s settlement, Hy Cite is to pay a $300,000 penalty and offer refunds to eligible customers who were denied a cancellation when they attempted to make a return within 20 days following their purchase.
“Hy Cite tricked consumers into increasing their profits and today they are paying for their misdeeds,” said Attorney General James. “They targeted Spanish-speaking communities and refused to let them return the products after being coerced into buying them. I urge eligible consumers who have attempted to return a product within 20 days of purchase, but were declined, to contact my office. We will continue to use the full force of our office to protect the wallets of New Yorkers from companies that do not follow the law. »
Hy Cite sold pots, pans and other kitchen-related products through door-to-door marketing through distributors in predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods including Bushwick, Marble Hill, Highbridge, East Tremont, Kingsbridge Heights and Concourse. The OAG launched an investigation into Hy Cite after receiving complaints from New Yorkers who were unable to return purchased products.
The OAG found that Hy Cite had no stated refund policy and simply told consumers they had three working days to cancel their purchase, a violation of the Home Sales Protection Act. Businesses are required by law to have a refund policy and a three-day cancellation notice. Companies that do not have a refund policy are required to give consumers 20 days to return their products.
Today’s agreement requires Hy Cite to allow eligible consumers, who purchased goods between August 1, 2018 and October 31, 2022, and who had wished to return their products within 20 days of purchase, to return them for a cash refund or exchange for new products, depending on the condition of the returned products. Additionally, the agreement requires Hy Cite to include a 20-day money-back policy on its New York purchase orders for at least three years and requires Hy Cite, not its distributors, to collect payments from consumers. Hy Cite must also pay $300,000 in penalties to the state.
People who purchased goods between August 1, 2018 and October 31, 2022 and were denied a refund within 20 days of purchase should file a complaint online with OAG Fraud and Consumer Protection Office or call 1-800-771-7755. Hy Cite is also required under the settlement to review its records and notify eligible consumers by January 30, 2023.
“Make the Road New York commends Attorney General James for suing Hy Cite for its deceptive practices against low-income consumers,” said Elizabeth Jordan, Deputy General Counsel, Make the Road New York. “Many of our members have been tricked by high pressure sales tactics into buying expensive Royal Prestige products and entering into disadvantageous sales contracts that are difficult to understand. Later, many found that they were unable to return the products, even if they turned out to be faulty. This settlement by the Attorney General’s office will help alleviate some of the extreme financial burden that our members and other low-income community members face as a result of Hy Cite’s practices, and we hope it deters Hy Cite and other predatory schemes in the future. ”
“My son and I bought some juicers but when they arrived there was a piece missing. It didn’t work but we couldn’t return it as they didn’t have a proper return policy “, said Juana García, impacted client and member of Make the Road New York. “My son ended up paying it all and more because of the very high interest he was charged. I’m glad to hear that the Attorney General’s office has entered into this agreement to hold this company accountable for what she has done to families like mine.
“I commend Attorney General James for successfully holding Hy Cite Enterprises accountable for its failure to clearly disclose company refund policies and offer refunds to eligible customers,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “Today’s effort is a victory for consumers and reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that residents, especially those in minority and Spanish-speaking communities, are not victimized by predatory business practices in the name of profit.”
“Companies have a responsibility to disclose their refund policies to their customers and it is clear that Hy Cite Enterprises has not done so,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “Thank you to Attorney General James and her team for taking immediate action to ensure consumer rights are protected and vulnerable New Yorkers receive the compensation they deserve.”
“I commend Attorney General Letitia James for protecting New York’s Spanish-speaking communities from unscrupulous business practices,” said New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera. “Enforcement actions like this are critical to ensuring consumer and worker protection laws work as intended.”
“Attacking vulnerable communities for profit has no place in New York,” said New York City Council member Pierina Sanchez. “Specifically targeting the predominantly Hispanic communities of the Bronx with misleading information and not disclosing an abusive refund policy for corporate earnings is unacceptable. I commend the investigative work of the Attorney General’s office, whose commitment to ending predatory practices against New York’s Latinx community continues to remain a priority.
“I am grateful to Attorney General Letitia James for her work to ensure those targeted by Hy Cite will be able to receive reimbursements in accordance with New York State law,” said Jennifer Gutiérrez, Member of the New York City Council. “I am disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to see Spanish-speaking communities and consumers being targeted and defrauded by bad actors. But I will not sit idly by when vulnerable members of the community are victims of fraud and abuse – my office is here to support anyone seeking the refund to which they are entitled, as well as to help resolve any other consumption.
“Companies that target vulnerable consumers deserve to be held accountable,” said Sandy Nurse, New York City Council Member. “I commend Attorney General Letitia James on securing this sanction against Hy Cite, and I encourage residents of my district and across the state to beware of unscrupulous salespeople and to contact the Attorney General’s office if they think they are being misled or defrauded.”
This investigation was led by Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth M. Lynch, formerly of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau and now Co-Director of the OAG’s HAF Mortgage Enforcement Unit, and Assistant Attorneys General Dami Obaro and Christopher L. Filburn , under the supervision of Deputy Minister Office Manager Laura J. Levine and Office Manager Jane M. Azia. The Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau is part of the Economic Justice Division, which is headed by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and overseen by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.