Watch Brokers settles with Governor's Office of Consumer Protection; Consumers to receive over $651,000 in restitution
ATLANTA, GA – John Sours, Administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”), today announced that Georgia has entered into a settlement with International Estate Brokers, LLC d/b/a Watch Brokers and d/b/a www.webuywatches.com, and its individual proprietor, resolving allegations by the State that the Atlanta-based wrist-watch brokering company engaged in deceptive advertising, sold watches on behalf of consumers without paying consumers their share of the proceeds as agreed to prior to the sales, and failed to return watches that had gone unsold to the consignors upon their request.
In settlement of this matter, Watch Brokers and its principal Ronald L. Bergh III, have entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with OCP, under which the company is required to pay restitution to 475 consumers in the amount of $651,258.92, to cease from making false representations in its advertising, and to pay a $20,000 civil penalty. Consumer restitution will be made on a payment schedule over the next several months.
“This was a particularly troubling case,” commented Mr. Sours, “since people who are willing to part with a watch of this quality are often in serious financial straits. Nevertheless, we appreciate the fact that Mr. Bergh has fully cooperated with our agency over the past few months, making it possible to provide full restitution to the affected consumers, and we took this cooperation into account when setting the civil penalty.”
The Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection offers the following tips to people who are selling valuables through an online broker:
- Know the reputation of the business you are dealing with. You can go to the Better Business Bureau’s website (www.bbb.org) to check the business’ overall rating and see if there have been any complaints lodged against the company. You may also want to search online for consumer or industry reviews of the business.
- Make sure you get all sales terms and policies in writing. Read the fine print and make sure you understand and are comfortable with the terms of the contract.
- Consider all your alternatives. For example, you may feel more comfortable selling the item to a local jeweler. That way you don’t have to part with the item until you have payment in hand.