Jeweler to Pay $34.2 Million in Settlement Over Deceptive Sales to Servicemen

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
July 20, 2022 Updated: July 20, 2022

SAN DIEGO—A nationwide jewelry retailer announced July 20 that it would agree to pay $34.2 million to resolve allegations of using deceptive sales tactics on active duty servicemembers, including those stationed in San Diego.

Harris Jewelers reached the settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of more than a dozen states. It requires the company to write off $21.3 million in consumer debt and provide millions in consumer refunds.

The debt includes more than $800,000 owed by Californians, according to a statement from the California Attorney General’s (AG) Office.

Officials in California said Harris operated stores on or near military bases, including Naval Base San Diego, where service members were told that purchasing products on credit would improve their credit scores, regardless of the customer’s credit history.

The company also “utilized unfair and deceptive sales practices” with its jewelry protection plan and did not include disclosures in its advertisements and retail installment sales contracts, according to the AG’s Office.

The settlement requires Harris to stop collecting the more than $21.3 million in outstanding debt held by 13,426 servicemembers, and provide nearly $12.9 million in refunds to 46,204 servicemembers who paid for protection plans. Those refunds include more than $700,000 to California servicemembers.

The company will also be required to vacate unpaid debt to 112 consumers, which totaled more than $115,000 while deleting any negative credit entries reported to consumer reporting agencies. Injunction terms also include a ban on the future marketing or sale of related products.