DENVER – Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has settled a consumer protection lawsuit against Morphcorp LLC, a Parker, Colorado company, as well as the company’s President and General Manager, Maxwell MacMaster, for alleged deceptive advertising and sales of “Family Yearbooks.”
“The ‘Family Yearbook’ was nothing more than a photocopy of the same material deceptively sold to thousands of consumers,” said Suthers. “We are pleased that Morphcorp and MacMaster have agreed to stop making these deceptive claims and pay penalties and fees for misleading consumers.”
Under the terms of the settlement, approved by the Court on February 3, 2006, Morphcorp and MacMaster have paid a $30,000 civil penalty and have agreed to significant changes in the way the “Family Yearbooks” are marketed.
“Colorado consumer protection law prohibits the use of false and misleading advertising to sell products to unsuspecting consumers,” said Suthers. “Our office is committed to enforcing that law by pursuing companies that violate it, as we have done here.”
Among other things, the court-approved settlement prohibits Morphcorp and MacMaster from stating or implying that:
- MacMaster or any other employee has the same last name of or is otherwise related to the consumer;
- the “Family Yearbook” is compiled, authored, sponsored, or announced by “contributing family member(s);”
- it contains 2000 years of history regarding a specific family, or that it represents a complete revision of the family’s classic history;
- the product is a “Family Yearbook” without a clear and conspicuous disclosure that it is not published yearly and that it contains no pictures of members of the specific family;
- any price for the “Family Yearbook” is a “special pre-publication price” or “pre-publication price.”
Morphcorp and MacMaster have agreed to provide refunds to consumers who request one. They also agreed to return any photographs that consumers have sent to them if the consumer requests their return and is able to identify the photographs. Finally, Morphcorp and MacMaster have paid to the State $25,000 in attorney fees and costs.
The lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General’s Office in November, alleged that the advertisements for the “Yearbook” included various false and misleading statements about the content of the “Yearbook” as well as misrepresentations such as MacMaster and his then-wife holding themselves out as having the same last name of the consumer to whom the flyer was sent. The lawsuit also claimed that Morphcorp engaged in improper pricing practices by falsely advertising that the “Yearbook” was available at a “special pre-publication price” for a limited period of time, when in fact nearly all of the “Yearbooks” sold were at the “special pre-publication price.”
Consumers with complaints regarding Morphcorp or the “Family Yearbook” may call the Colorado Consumer Line toll-free 1-800-222-4444 or may download a complaint form at: http://www.ago.state.co.us/consline/complaint.pdf.
Consumers desiring a refund or the return of photographs sent to Morphcorp, also doing business as Family News, may also contact the company directly at: (720) 297-6250.