PHOENIX (CN) - Best Buy advertised its Insignia auto speakers as three-way speakers, but the third "speaker" was only a "nonfunctioning plastic replica," a class action claims in Federal Court. The class claims Best Buy had the speakers specially made in China "to defraud consumers" with a dummy tweeter, which, not surprisingly, was "manufactured at dramatically lower costs."
The class seeks damages for fraud and racketeering.
Class representative Emily Winger says she bought a set of Insignia three-way speakers from Best Buy in March. She claims that its high-range speaker drivers were "not wired or capable of producing any sound."
Best Buy has "received a high level of returns on the speakers falsely represented to be 3-way speakers," according to the complaint.
Winger claims that "Peiying Electro-Acoustic, at Best Buy's request ... made speakers for Best Buy Co. Inc. and Best Buy Enterprise Services Inc., with a false driver that would allow the speakers to be falsely advertised as 3-way speakers but manufactured at dramatically lower costs." Peiying is based in Shenzen, Guangdong, China.
"Best Buy designed or had significant input into the design of the two speaker models and provided the designs, plans, specifications, schema and other information for manufacturing to Peiying Electro-Acoustic, as is the common practice in the industry," according to the complaint.
"Best Buy, Best Buy Enterprise Services, Inc., and Peiying Electro-Acoustic
had a common purpose to defraud consumers for the purpose of making money by falsely representing 2-way speakers to be 3-way speakers, and acted together as an organization to do so."
Best Buy then "shipped and sold the speakers falsely represented to be 3-way speakers to consumers nationwide over the Internet," according to the complaint.
The class claims that since 2001, Insignia, a trademark and exclusive brand of Best Buy, made two models of car speakers falsely advertised as three-way.
A three-way speaker splits the sound in three ways, with "three drivers to reproduce the sounds within those three ranges."
"Unlike the microtweeters, or highest range drivers, in later models, the fake 'drivers' in the Insignia 3-way speakers plaintiff purchased were not wired or capable of producing any sound," Winger says.
The complaint includes comparison photographs of two models of the speakers.
The class seeks costs and damages for racketeering, mail fraud and wire fraud. It is represented by Robert B. Carey with Hagens, Berman, Sobol and Shapiro.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.