The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has filed a lawsuit against All State Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc. and its master plumber, Wayne E. Garrity, for charging extra for permit fees but failing to obtain permits and inspections when installing hot water heaters.
The lawsuit, filed through the Office of the County Attorney, is based upon an OCP investigation documenting that more than a dozen consumers were charged $90 to $150 for a permit from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), the regulatory authority for plumbing and gas fitting in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. However, All State failed to apply for or receive permits, and consequently no inspections were conducted by WSSC upon completion of the installations. Between January 1, 2009 and May 15, 2010, All State installed approximately 100 water heaters in Montgomery County as the plumbing contractor for a home warranty program sold by American Home Shield.
The lawsuit charges that All State Plumbing and its master plumber violated Montgomery County’s Consumer Protection Act by charging for services it did not provide and for failing to provide documentation to OCP pursuant to an administrative subpoena.
“In addition to financial harm, if the work has not been inspected, this case potentially involves safety issues related to the installation and venting of gas appliances,” said OCP Director Eric Friedman. “We are coordinating our investigation and legal action with other State and local regulatory agencies. In addition, WSSC staff provided valuable technical assistance throughout this investigation and continue to work with our office.”
The County’s lawsuit seeks a court order to terminate these deceptive practices, provide restitution to consumers and pay approximately $100,000 plus punitive damages to Montgomery County for violating Montgomery County’s Consumer Protection Act. The suit also seeks to have All State comply with the administrative subpoena to provide copies of customer receipts so that OCP can determine how many other consumers in Montgomery County may have been affected by the practices referenced in the lawsuit.
The Office of Consumer Protection urges consumers in Montgomery County who have recently paid a contractor to install a new gas water heater to contact them or WSSC if they believe the work was not performed with a permit and not inspected by WSSC. An improperly installed gas water heater can be the cause of unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in a home.
For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636 or email email@example.com. Consumers should call WSSC at 301-206-4004 if they are concerned that their gas water heaters were not inspected.
OCP, the County’s consumer protection agency, investigates thousands of complaints each year involving automotive sales and repairs, new home purchases, home improvements, credit issues, retail sales, internet services and most other consumer transactions. OCP provides pre-purchase information to consumers, as well as speakers to the community on consumer issues.
For more information and to check any merchant’s complaint record, call 240-777-3636 or visit OCP’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/consumer.
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