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MADISON - Timothy M. Ebert has been ordered by Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Jean W. DiMotto to pay $7,089 in forfeitures, fees, surcharges, and restitution, Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen announced today. The court's order also enjoins Ebert from conducting direct marketing (such as telephone solicitations) to Wisconsin residents and forbids Ebert from engaging in any type of duct cleaning business or services for Wisconsin residents. The order was signed upon stipulation of the parties, resolving the action filed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice alleging Ebert violated the no-call law and engaged in unlawful deceptive marketing or business practices on multiple occasions.
Wisconsin law requires individuals to register with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) prior to making telephone solicitations to residential telephone customers. Once registered, a telephone solicitor may not contact residents who have signed up on DATCP's "no-call list," a list of telephone customers who have indicated to DATCP they do not wish to receive telephone solicitations. Telemarketers are further prohibited from contacting residents who have previously requested not to be contacted by the caller.
The State's complaint alleged that Ebert, who operated a number of businesses, including "Cooper D.U.C.S.," "White Glove Duct Cleaning, Inc.," "Wisconsin Professional Cleaners, LLC," and "Wisconsin Carpet Outlet, LLC," violated these provisions. The State's suit also alleged Ebert had engaged in deceptive practices in the course of conducting sales by making misrepresentations in violation of Wisconsin's deceptive advertising and direct marketing laws, including failing to disclose his refund and cancellation policies prior to the sale of goods or services. Finally, the State alleged Ebert had engaged in harassing and threatening behavior in the course telemarketing.
"The law protects consumers from unwanted telemarketing and deceptive marketing practices," Van Hollen said. "Consumers are encouraged to do what they did in this case: report incidents by contacting DATCP. At the Department of Justice, we will work closely with DATCP to enforce the state's consumer protection laws."
This case was initially investigated by DATCP, who received complaints from several dozen consumers since 2003 relating to Ebert's marketing and business practices. DATCP referred the matter to the Department of Justice for prosecution. Assistant Attorney General Nelle Rohlich represented the State.