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June court date coming in uniform refund case

May. 17, 2010 - 12:22PM   |   Last Updated: May. 17, 2010 - 12:22PM  |  
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The Maine attorney general's office is still fighting for service members who have been trying — some for years — to get refunds for military uniform items ordered from Military Accessories and Community Support.

The owner of MAACS, Allison MacDonald, "has to go to court in June and explain why she hasn't paid and what kinds of assets she has," Maine Assistant Attorney General Jim McKenna said.

MacDonald has been ordered by a Maine Superior Court judge to pay $75,574.61 in restitution to troops who have submitted affidavits. She also must pay a $30,000 fine.

To date, 114 service members have filed complaints with the attorney general's office.

MacDonald did not respond to e-mail requests for comment, and the company's phones apparently do not work. Its previous toll-free line now encourages customers to call a 900 number that charges $1.99 per call.

Some service members have sought refunds for more than three years. Troops repeatedly were told their items were on back order — and were delayed long enough that it became too late for them to dispute the charges through their credit card companies and get a refund.

In February 2009, MacDonald entered into a Maine Superior Court consent decree requiring her company to pay refunds to 96 service members for uniform items that were never delivered. She also agreed that if any more complaints were received by the attorney general, refunds would be paid within 30 days.

After the attorney general's office found out that many troops still hadn't gotten their money back, the office pursued further action. McKenna said the latest move is a judgment against MacDonald, attempting to collect from her personal assets.

The Better Business Bureau has received 661 complaints about MAACS in the past 36 months and gives the company an "F" rating.

Remember:

• Military exchanges are the only authorized vendors for uniforms. Even if a company touts some kind of military link, it is not a defense-authorized vendor.

• Use a credit card, rather than a debit card, for online purchases. You have more protection when disputing charges and a better chance of getting a refund.

• Check out a company's complaint history with the BBB.

• Read all terms and conditions. Unless you agree to a longer term, the company must ship items within 30 days or you can cancel the order and get a refund.

• File a complaint with the BBB and your state's consumer affairs office if you cannot get a satisfactory response.

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