A Maryland cemetery firm has agreed to change its sales tactics because of alleged violations of the Consumer Protection Law.
Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland signed a written agreement with the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Affairs after questions were raised about the way the cemetery sales staff was selling grave markers, monuments and grave services, such as opening and closing the grave.
Consumer investigator Susan Cohen said the sales personnel telephoned persons who own plots at Cedar Hill and told them new deeds were being issued. The deeds were to be picked up by owners at the cemetery offices or delivered by cemetery employes, Cohen said.
But when a salesman arrived at the customer's home with the new deed, he would try to sell markers, monuments and grave services, Cohen said. She said the cemetery violated the consumer law when it failed to notify the customer in advance of the intent of the salesman's visit.
In addition, Cohen said, the new deeds omitted references to the cemetery's perpetual care.
Cedar Hill, without admitting any violation, agreed in the settlement to have its sales staff read the consumer law, to ensure future sales presentations are true and to provide deeds indicating perpetual care is provided.
Consumers who paid deposits to the financially troubled Carolina Furniture Galleries Inc. of Fredericksburg, Va., but never received their furniture should file a claim for a refund with the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs, officials said.
Mary Ann Shurtz, coordinator of the Northern Virginia consumer office, said claims should be filed no later than Dec. 5, the deadline set by the court in the case against Carolina Furniture.
"We will then try to work with the store's attorney to resolve the complaints," she said.
Thirty-three customers who had paid deposits totaling $30,000 already have filed claims for refunds from the discount furniture store, which closed in October and now is planning a liquidation sale.
The amount of the deposits ranged from $200 paid by one customer toward the purchase of two end tables to $1,825 paid by another customer toward the purchase of a suite of furniture.
Some deposits were paid as far back as August, 1981, while others were as recent as July, 1982.
When customers complained to the state consumer agency about delays in delivery, officials took the matter to court. The attorney general's office obtained an order from Spotsylvania County Circuit Judge John A. Jamison directing restitution for customers. The order said customers could receive either a financial settlement or the merchandise originally ordered, if it was available.
For information on filing a claim for a refund, consumers may call the consumer office in Fairfax County at 573-1286.