(CN) – A vacuum cleaner salesman pressured a 75-year-old monolingual Russian immigrant into buying a $2,500 machine for her single, cheap throw rug, the woman claims through her attorney in Cook County Court. And when her daughter complained, the salesman said that if she didn’t pay up, the government would cut off her Social Security, throw her out of her apartment, and wouldn’t let her become a citizen, according to the complaint.
Liliya Baradulina does not speak or read English, and lives in “a very small one-room studio apartment” in a government-subsidized senior home in Chicago, according to the complaint.
“The floor in Liliya’s studio apartment is tile, over which there is a 10′ x 8′ area rug she purchased for a few hundred dollars in 2008,” the complaint states.
Yet in January this year, a salesman named Vorobel, from New York-based Seven Colors Inc., allegedly insisted that she needed the $2,500 machine to maintain the cheap throw rug.
He charmed his way into her apartment by falsely claiming that her friend had recommended the vacuum cleaner to her, according to the complaint.
After a pitch that lasted almost 5 hours, “Vorobel convinced Liliya that she needed to purchase a Rainbow Home Cleaning System E2-Series Vacuum with an expensive ‘Power Nozzle’ … for the net price (which Vorobel represented included an alleged discount) of $2,504.70,” according to the complaint. (Parentheses in complaint.)
“Also, as a gift, Vorobel gave Liliya some inexpensive cookware,” the complaint adds.
Although he conducted his lengthy presentation entirely in Russian, Vorobel had her sign a contract in English: to pay $1,000 in cash and the $1,500 balance over 1 year at 15 percent interest, the complaint states.
When Baradulina’s daughter found out, 1 month later, she tried to cancel the contract, saying her mother had been duped to “sign consumer transaction documents she neither understood nor could read to purchase the Rainbow Vacuum Cleaner she could neither afford nor needed.”
The daughter, Marina Miron, says she called Seven Colors to complain. She says the Seven Colors representative told her that her mother should “learn to read and speak the English language if she is living in the United States.”
Later that month – February, 2010 – Vorobel threatened Baradulina that if she did not pay the $135.39 monthly installment, “the failure will go on her ‘record’ and the government will take away her Social Security income, she would be thrown out of her senior-subsidized apartment, and that failing to meet her obligations on the installment loan will prevent Liliya from becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen,” according to the complaint.
The complaint adds: “To date, Liliya has not used the Rainbow Vacuum, the nozzle or the cookware.”
Baradulina seeks punitive damages from Seven Colors for fraud, deceptive trade, consumer law violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Spencer Marks with Pokorny & Marks.