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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Injured Woman Says Marketers Rolled Her

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A woman with traumatic brain injury claims an aggressive marketing company bilked her of thousands of dollars with repeated, insistent calls claiming she could make thousands of dollars pushing their stuff from the group home where she lives.

She sued Medical Marketing Group and First Choice Marketing & Medical Solutions.

Jenny Leigh Ayers suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1996 and lives in a group home. She says Phoenix-based Medical Marketing Group began calling her in the summer of 2010 - and kept calling. She says she "repeatedly declined the services," but that "(a)s a result of persistent calls offering services at different prices, Ayers eventually authorized a charge to her credit card of $220.00 and signed an 'Affiliate Agreement' with MMG in early December of 2010."

Ayers suffers from "chronic cognitive deficits that interfere with her daily functioning and decision-making and remains under the care of a doctor for her condition," according to the complaint in Multnomah County Court. "Her speech is generally slow, she is easily confused, and has trouble with her memory. ... She lives on a monthly income of less than $700," from Social Security Disability and Supplemental Income programs, and lives in a group home, with help from a caseworker.

"The Affiliate Agreement provided that Ayers would be paid on commission for new product enrollments," the complaint states. "The packet of materials sent to her along with the Affiliate Agreement highlighted the money she could make by referring new Affiliates to the company in addition to new enrollments. These materials included very little detail on the supposed products she would be marketing and rather suggested that nearly two-thirds of her compensation could come from enrolling new Affiliates like herself."

The $220 was only the beginning, Ayers says: "Nearly immediately after she authorized the $220.00 transaction by phone, and prior to receipt of any materials, she was deceived into purchasing another $4,200.00 worth of 'advertising'. ... She did not understand what the 'advertising' consisted of, was not informed that any purchase would be non-refundable, nor that any disputes could only be resolved through arbitration in Arizona. Immediately after the phone call, a courier was sent to her group home to have her sign an 'Advertising Invoice' for the same. The courier handed her the 'starter kit' and then gave her the advertising invoice to sign in return. She did not understand that she was signing a contract rather than a receipt for delivery."

She says the "invoice" stated "in small print at the bottom" that the purchase was nonrefundable, and that disputes could be resolved only through arbitration in Arizona. "It contained no cooling off period or provision to cancel the transaction. These terms are substantively and procedurally unconscionable."

Ayers says that after reading the materials she had signed, "and realizing that she may have authorized a $4,200.00 charge to her credit card," she contacted her personal assistant at the group home to help fix the "big mistake."

Ayers and her assistant called First Choice Marketing & Medical Solutions, an affiliate company, to try to remove the mistaken charge from the credit card.

She says a representative told them that Ayers could get a refund of $220 for the "starter kit" but there was no refund available for the $4,200 transaction.

Ayers, her assistant, and her father all made multiple attempts to cancel the mistaken transaction, to no avail.

Ayers wants her $4,200 back, and damages for fraud and unfair trade.

She is represented by Gregory Mowe and Sara Bergan with Stoel Rives.

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