Emergency Services 24 and its owner to pay $250,000 to the State to resolve allegations of unfair and deceptive conduct
ATLANTA, GA – John Sours, Administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection (“GOCP”), today announced that the agency has entered into a $250,000 settlement with water mitigation company Emergency Services 24, Inc. and its owner Micah Bass to resolve allegations of unfair and deceptive sales and advertising practices.
Emergency Services 24, Inc. is in the business of resolving residential water damage like the type that might occur due to flooding, burst pipes or storms. GOCP alleges that the company told consumers that the cost of its services would be taken care of by the consumer’s insurance company and that the consumer would only be responsible for paying the deductible. Not only was this frequently not the case, but the company would then allegedly use illegal tactics to try to collect the balance due from consumers, such as threatening to file liens on the consumers’ properties, even though the legal time period for filing a lien had expired.
GOCP alleges that Emergency Services 24 and Micah Bass committed additional violations of the Fair Business Practices Act, including:
- Falsely advertising that Emergency Services 24 had multiple locations throughout the state of Georgia and the United States, when, in fact, the company only has offices in Alabama, Florida and one office location in Georgia. Emergency Services 24 advertised that a company representative would be at consumers’ homes within an hour when that was frequently not true and, with only a single office in Georgia, the company had no rational basis for stating that it would be able to respond in that time frame.
- Falsely representing to consumers that it was handling overflow for another mitigation company and that it was therefore associated with that company.
- Using various insurance companies’ logos to falsely represent that it was endorsed by or had a special relationship with those companies.
- Advertising that consumers would be able to get a free estimate without disclosing that the estimate would only be free if it was provided over the phone, and the consumer would be charged if a technician had to go to a consumer’s house to create an estimate.
- Listing its Florida General Contractor’s license on Georgia marketing materials, contracts, and other materials, thereby giving consumers reason to believe that the company had a water mitigation license in Georgia.
- Falsely advertising that there would be no “travel charge.”
In resolution of these allegations, Emergency Services 24 and Mr. Bass have entered into a settlement with GOCP requiring them to bring the company’s advertising and sales practices into compliance with the Fair Business Practices Act and to pay a $125,000 civil penalty and an additional $125,000 in administrative expenses. Furthermore, the settlement requires payment of an additional $100,000 if the company violates the terms of the settlement or if GOCP receives additional, verifiable, actionable complaints from consumers during the next 12 months indicating that the company has violated the terms of the settlement.
“Emergency Services 24 and Micah Bass tried to take advantage of consumers whose backs were to the wall,” says Administrator John Sours. “They seriously misled consumers concerning the costs of their services, the company’s geographic presence, its ability to respond in a timely manner, and its licenses, endorsements and affiliations. These are serious violations and we are accordingly responding with serious penalties.”