...Blue Hippo, right?
This is one of those businesses that can get you a computer even if you have bad credit.
You'll get it alright...but not the computer!
(There's a video story at this page)
TONIGHT 7 ON YOUR SIDE INVESTIGATES A COMPANY THAT'S ACCUSED OF PREYING ON THE POOR AND DECEIVING THOUSANDS OF CONSUMERS.
IT'S A STORY THAT'S NOW RECEIVING NATIONAL ATTENTION, BUT OUR ROSS MCLAUGHLIN HAS BEEN FOLLOWING IT FOR A YEAR.
SO FAR THE OWNER HAS AVOIDED THE SPOTLIGHT, UNTIL NOW. ROSS?
Ross McLaughlin on set:
HIS NAME IS JOE RENSIN. HIS COMPANY, BLUEHIPPO FUNDING...A SORT OF COMPUTER "LAYAWAY" PROGRAM FOR THOSE WITH BAD CREDIT..PAY NOW..GET YOUR PRODUCT LATER..SOUNDS PROMISING BUT THIS LIST OF COMPLAINTS REVEALS WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WHEN CONSUMERS BOUGHT THE PITCH.
Advertisement:"This is your chance to get a brand new, brand name computer from BlueHippo regardless of your credit"
THE PITCH IS PROMISING.
Risa Hucks/Consumer: "It grabbed me just like that I called instantly."
RISA HUCKS NEEDED A NEW COMPUTER..SHE JUST DIDN'T KNOW WHAT SHE WAS IN FOR.
Risa Hucks:"The first thing they said is do you have a checking account."
AND THAT'S ALL THEY NEEDED.
Risa Hucks: "From that point that was the end of that, everything went downhill."
SHE THOUGHT HER COMPUTER WOULD COST 13 HUNDRED DOLLARS..BUT AFTER 6 MONTHS OF AUTOMATIC DEDUCTIONS FROM HER CHECKING ACCOUNT SHE FINALLY LEARNED THE TRUTH WITH A COPY OF THE CONTRACT....THE ACTUAL PRICE 23 HUNDRED DOLLARS.
Risa Hucks:"I'm stuck"
THE CONTRACT CLEARLY STATES NO REFUNDS..AND SHE'S NOW GETTING COLLECTION NOTICES.
JUST LOOK AT THE COMPLAINTS WE'VE RECEIVED ABOUT BLUEHIPPO. THIS CONSUMER PAID 900 DOLLARS IN PAYMENTS AND DIDN'T GET ANYTHING. ANOTHER DECLINED TO SIGN THE CONTRACT YET MONTHS PAYMENTS WERE DEDUCTED FROM HIS ACCOUNT.
Joe Enoch/ConsumerAffairs.com: The business plan here is flawless financially, you're selling 400 dollar computers which a lot of times you don't even ship to people."
CONSUMERAFFAIRS.COM INVESTIGATOR JOE ENOCH POINTS TO THE TOTAL PRICE OF THE COMPUTER. BACK IN JANUARY HE DISCOVERED BLUEHIPPO CHARGING MORE THAN ($2178.00) TWO GRAND FOR ONE OF THEIR DESKTOPS COMPUTERS, EVEN THOUGH YOU COULD SPEND ABOUT 600 DOLLARS AND GET A LOT MORE SOMEWHERE ELSE. SO WHAT'S BLUE HIPPO'S OWNER HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT?
Joe Enoch:"They've never talked to me and I know other reporters who've tried and he's never talked to them."
MAYBE WE CAN FIND HIM. AND WE DO.
Ross:"I'm Ross McLaughlin from 7 On Your Side."
Joe Rensin: "I'm Joe Rensin. It's very nice to meet you. Please turn it off and we'd be happy to speak with you. "
Ross: "but we're here now"
Joe Rensin: "Well, that's very unreasonable."
SEVERAL STATES HAVE TAKEN ACTION AGAINST BLUEHIPPO OVER THE WAY IT'S DOING BUSINESS, INCLUDING ILLINOIS, WEST VIRGINIA, FLORIDA AND NOW
Doug Gansler: "This is a sham operation I mean it is a sham operation."
MARYLAND'S ATTORNEY GENERAL.
Doug Gansler:"This was a very sophisticated scheme that worked over a long period of time and duped many many consumers."
WHICH LEAVES ONE QUESTION, WHY?
Ross:"I'm asking the question now
Joe Rensin:No let me stop we'll be delighted. Hold on.
Ross:why do you charge so much for your computers
Joe Rensin:"This is gotcha journalism. And it's yellow and you know it."
Ross:"And why are you taking advantage of your customers?"
Joe Rensin:"Nah that's silly come on."
IT'S NOT SILLY. JUST ASK RISA.
Risa Hucks:"I had the worst experience ever in life I would never do it again."
SHE'S ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES SHE GOT A COMPUTER EVEN IF SHE PAID WAY TOO MUCH. WE GOT OUR HANDS ON SOME OF BLUEHIPPO'S OWN DATA. WE ANALYZED A TWO YEAR PERIOD AND DISCOVERED, OF COMPUTERS ORDERED ONLY 34 PERCENT WERE SHIPPED.
Doug Gansler: "Clearly what they were doing was not in compliance with the law and that's why they've reached a settlement with us to avoid prosecution."
BLUEHIPPO HAS SETTLED WITH MARYLAND AND NOW HAS AGREED TO GIVE REFUNDS TO CONSUMERS WHO DIDN'T GET THEIR COMPUTERS..COMPENSATE THOSE WHO WERE OVERCHARGED AND PAY 300 THOUSAND DOLLARS TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S DIVISION..WITH THE STIPULATION THAT THE COMPANY DOESN'T HAVE TO ADMIT TO DOING ANYTHING WRONG. AND RENSIN WASN'T ADMITTING ANYTHING TO US.
Ross:"What time do you want to do it? Where are you going?"
Joe Rensin:"That's unprofessional and you know it. "
Ross McLaughlin on set:
MR RENSIN NEVER RETURNED OUR CALLS OR SET UP A TIME FOR AN INTERVIEW..INSTEAD WE GOT A THREATENING LETTER FROM HIS ATTORNEY BUT EVENTUALLY GOT A COMMENT FROM BLUEHIPPO'S PR FIRM STATING THEY HAVE VIGOROUSLY WORKED TO RESOLVE CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS AND WON'T COMMENT ON LEGAL ACTIONS TAKEN AGAINST THEM.