Lots of people say they have a way to kill roaches, but two young District entrepreneurs found out yesterday that advertising those plans in the newspaper is another matter.
The District's Office of Consumer Protection yesterday released a consent agreement that forces Charles W. Davis Jr., 21, and Edwin M. Lyons, 22, to refund $6.95 each to more than 200 consumers who have ordered a "compound guaranteed to exterminate roaches for a three-year period."
Claiming that authorization was received from the Environmental Protection Agency and that they had "cooperation" from "Texas State University," the two men placed quarterpage advertisements in The Washinton Post and The Washington Star.
"We were very inexperienced in business practices," Davis said yesterday. "We thought we had enough information to start the business, but we got in a lot of trouble."
Davis said the two men, calling themselves American Research Labs, have an insecticide product with ingredients that have been approved for use by other firms. "We didn't know that each company has to apply for registration, also," Davis said.
Davis said that he now realizes there is not a "Texas State University." He and Lyons had used "some books and pamphlets written years ago" at the University of Texas on "insecticides and roaches" when they prepared the advertisement.
The advertisement, which ran in The Washington Star on Aug. 19 and in The Washington Post on Aug. 29, was published in The Post without the routine checks made on such advertisements, a spokesman for the Post's advertising department said.
"The ad should not have run without being looked into," said the official, noting that because the ad offered claims about other pesticide products and said that the firm had government authorization for its pesticide, the department should have investigated the claims.
In addition to returning the money sent to them by local consumers, the two men, under the terms of the consent agreement, will pay $500 to cover the cost of the District governemnt's investigation.
The District Department of Environmental Health Services' Environmental Health Administration and The U.S. Postal Service's Fraud Division also participated in the case.
"Once we clear up everything, we hope one day to start up the business," Davis said, noting that the two hope to get advice from the Small Business Administration and a private attorney.