Ex-Grand Junction firm tops list of consumer complaints
A former Grand Junction man’s company led in the number of consumer complaints received by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in 2009 and the first two months of this year, the office announced Monday.
The office attributed the top complaints — 631 in 2009 — to rebate offers in general, but the Grand Junction-based National Energy Rebate Fund drew the almost all of them with 627.
That fund was owned by Tim Stubbs, formerly of 265 Red Rim Drive, who was fined $100,000 by Attorney General John Suthers in January for defrauding customers for rebates they were promised after purchasing energy-efficient housing materials.
Stubbs was ordered to return $4.2 million he collected from more than 14,000 customers in Colorado, Wisconsin and elsewhere in the nation.
Suthers’ spokesman, Mike Saccone, said the state also is seeking a judgment against Stubbs’ personal funds, but he is believed to have fled the country and may be living in Costa Rica.
Last year, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen obtained a $5.5 million judgment against Stubbs and similar funds he was associated with there.
According to that judgment, 320 Wisconsin households had received rebate vouchers worth about $3.8 million, but the fund had set aside only about $309,000 to pay them. Van Hollen said the fund had issued about $60 million in vouchers nationwide.
Neither Stubbs nor any other worker with the fund could be reached, but the following message was posted on its Web page at http://www.nationalrebate-fund.com:
“Due to ongoing legal issues we are unable to continue processing. You do not need to mail your claims, unless you want to, but they will most likely be returned as the FA (fund administrator) has resigned and is not accepting mail. Our plan is to make payment to ALL voucher holders from April 1, 2004 through Oct. 31, 2008, claim pools. We are working to gain the states’ cooperation in this matter to allow us to make payment to all these consumers with outstanding vouchers. The escrow does remain in tact (sic).”
Suthers’ office also fielded 185 rebate complaints in January and February of this year, 130 of them specifically on the rebate fund with more expected.
In 2009, the fund received more than twice the number of complaints than the second-largest category, utility complaints on cable and satellite televisions services. Most of those complaints were lodged against Englewood-based DirecTV, which regularly leads Suthers’ list.
Saccone said the investigation against the fund began with complaints first lodged in June 2009, meaning it quickly took the lead on the complaint list from reports that came in the last half of the year.
Under Suthers’ judgment order, money in the fund’s escrow account will be redistributed to defrauded consumers based on their level of participation. Stubbs had placed $4.6 million into the account. About $4.4 million remains.
How much individual consumers get back compared to what they were defrauded will depend on how many file claims and how many more rebate complaints are received, he said.
Stubbs misrepresented the likelihood that consumers actually would receive a rebate, and the scheme was not a way to promote energy efficiency but for Stubbs to sell higher-priced items from other companies he was associated with, Saccone said.