Disgruntled consumers have secured a settlement worth up to $27.6 million resolving claims that the water filter company Enagic sent out a deluge of unwanted telemarketing calls.
Class Members include those who received a robocall from Enagic or any of its distributors between July 8, 2011 and March 13, 2018. The call must have been made by an automatic dialing system or used a prerecorded voice.
Lead plaintiffs alleged that Enagic, a company that sells alkaline water filtration and ionization systems through direct sales, peppered consumers with unwanted telemarketing calls urging them to buy systems and also become distributors for the company.
According to the Enagic auto dialer class action lawsuit, the company violated federal consumer protection law when it used “robocalling” to contact consumers who had not given their permission to receive such telemarketing calls from the company.
The plaintiffs contended that Enagic violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA. The TCPA is a federal law that protects consumers from certain telemarketing activity, including the use of automatic dialing systems and prerecorded messages. The TCPA also requires companies to obtain permission to call consumers with marketing messages prior to making those calls.
In the Enagic class action lawsuit, several plaintiffs complained that they had received both unauthorized telemarketing calls and prerecorded messages from the company. One plaintiff alleged that she had never worked with the company before receiving the calls.
Enagic agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle the auto dialer class action lawsuit. Of that amount, Class Members can expect to share $21.6 million, resulting in an award of approximately $12 each.
Enagic also agreed to a $6 million injunction as a part of the settlement, which will cover the cost of training distributors about how to be in compliance with the TCPA, as well as auditing, monitoring and reporting of this compliance to Class counsel twice each year.
Class Members will need to submit a claim via mail or online by Nov. 14, 2019 to receive payment. Class Members must provide their phone number or Claim ID from the settlement notice. Class Members who have not received notice of the Enagic class action settlement can update their mailing address or contact the settlement administrator for more information.
The deadline for Class Members to object to or opt out of the settlement agreement is Nov. 14, 2019.
Contact 2: Consumer complaint leads to resolution with water filtration company
ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Health and wealth are the pillars of Hironari Oshiro’s philosophy.
Oshiro founded Enagic International, a Kangen-branded water filtration and alkaline-ionizer distribution company. The company’s website claims its systems transform regular tap water into pure, healthy, electrolytically-reduced and hydrogen-rich drinking water.
Cole Reynolds was a believer. Living in St. Charles at the time, he says he was introduced to Enagic by a friend. Cole attended a product demonstration at a now-shuttered St. Peters storefront. He proceeded to finance nearly $8,500 for an anti-oxidizer machines and a “home spa system” for the shower.
Cole says Enagic representatives convinced him he wasn’t just buying a product, he’d be able to sell them as well.
“It would be a free machine because you could sell a couple of these and they’ll pay it off with the money you’d get off commission,” Reynolds said.
Enagic’s website clearly shows it operates as a direct sales system. In fact, the products Cole received come with instructional DVDs he showed us, detailing how the business plan works.
“Unfortunately, most multi-level marketing distributors don’t earn a substantial income, let alone a lavish lifestyle and financial freedom,” said Laura Smith, legal director at the non-profit consumer advocacy organization TruthinAdvertising.org.
In 2017, the company investigated Enagic as part of a larger probe into the Direct Selling Association. The findings showed 97 percent of DSA’s member companies were making false and unsubstantiated income claims to promote business.
“The particular company you’ve been looking into, we had about 20 examples of these kind of exaggerated income claims and all but one are still up today in 2019,” Smith said.
Had Cole Reynolds known then what he knows now, he says he definitely wouldn’t have bought the products. He says he still owes close to $5,000 on the two unused devices he bought. He wants out.
“I’m willing to give them pretty much free money just to take their stuff back,” he said.
The return policy on the Enagic website includes a clause that says the buyer must pay the full price for the product if it’s not returned within a month of delivery.
“I don’t want to kill my credit with this because I’ve got college payments to do,” Reynolds said.
Fox 2’s Mike Colombo reached out to an Enagic representative in Chicago and the man who ran the local shop where Cole attended the presentation.
The Chicago guy said they would not accept Cole’s return because the 30-day window had long passed. The local guy told Colombo he’d try to help and help he did. A week after Colombo first spoke him, he informed Colombo Enagic would offer Cole a full refund if the products are in the condition Cole says they are.
Contact 2 thanked him for his willingness to resolve this matter.
Contact 2 reminds you not to get swept up in what could be high-pressure pitches. Take time to research any company you’re considering doing business with thoroughly and make sure you fully understand its terms, conditions, and return policies.
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A water filter company that allegedly used auto dialer software to spam call more than a million people, has agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle a class action lawsuit.
The nationwide class includes nearly 1.8 million U.S. residents who received at least one call from Enagic or an Enagic distributer between July 2011 and March 2018. Each class member will be eligible for a $12 award of the $21.6 million settlement pot. Enagic also accepted a $6 million injunction.
By using auto dialer software, or an artificial or prerecorded voice, Enagic is accused of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a federal law that protects consumers from receiving unwanted telemarketing or robocalls unless they’ve given the company prior express permission to make such calls.
Enagic is a company that sells alkaline water filtration and ionization systems by direct-selling through thousands of distributors. The company insisted the individual distributors are independent contractors, but the call recipients alleged Enagic exerted more control over their distributors.
Auto Dialer Software Used
According to lead plaintiff Edward M., in May 2015, Enagic called Edward’s cell phone and presented him with a 22-minute prerecorded sales message encouraging him to not only purchase an Enagic water filtering machine but also to become a distributor.
Just two days later, Edward claims he received another call from Enagic, this time from a live male distributor who was trying to talk Edward into becoming a distributor, too.
After receiving these two unwanted phone calls, Edward filed a TCPA lawsuit in June 2015. Class Members were certified in March 2018.
Another plaintiff alleges that also beginning in 2015, she received unwanted text messages and phone calls from Enagic, trying to convince her to buy its water filtration system. She said Enagic contacted her 40 times over the course of a year even though she said she had never done prior business with the company, according to businessforhome.org.
As part of the $6 million injunction, Enagic will have to ensure its distributors do not use an auto-dialing system. The company also will put its distributors through an extensive TCPA compliance training program. To make sure the company follows through with the training and TCPA enforcement, Enagic will be required to produce a bi-annual status report that is sent to class members, says the motion.
Since the passing of the TCPA, the Federal Communications Commission has restricted telemarketing efforts that use auto dialers and artificial or prerecorded voices.
Businesses used to use the excuse that they already had an “established business relationship” with a customer that the businesses believed provided implied consent to call or text the customer without interruption. TCPA clarifies that telemarketers cannot robocall a customer without receiving prior express consent from the customer.
Businesses are strictly prohibited from calling numbers that appear on the National Do Not Call Registryor on company-kept “do not call” lists.
Other companies that have faced similar TCPA violation allegations in court include Walmart, Rite Aid, Chase Bank and Wells Fargo.
The Auto Dialer Software Lawsuit is Edward M. v. Enagic USA Inc., Case No. 2:15-cv-05145, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
.MLM Selling Water?? Compensation Plan Reaction -- Enagic/Breakaway Movement -- Anti-MLM
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