Triangle womans falls victim to Blue Hippo

RALEIGH An ad in the Sunday paper caught Ruth Frazier's attention. She called the 1-800-number and ordered her new computer from Blue Hippo. "I paid the $99 and I'm thinking I'm waiting for the UPS truck to deliver the computer," Frazier said.

Instead of a computer Frazier had to wait more than two months to get the paperwork explaining the computer deal. Ruth explains, "After I read the paper, I said oh no I didn't know I was getting it on lay-a-way and I didn't know I had to pay all this money up front."

The deal stated that Ruth would have to make 26-consecutive bi-weekly payments of $69.98 for a total close to $2000. Once those payments are made, Ruth would get her computer. Ruth didn't want the lay-a-way plan called Blue Hippo to cancel. The representative told her she couldn't get her money back, "He said because it's lay-a-way," she explained.

Ruth said she didn't know any of these terms when she signed up with Blue Hippo – and Ruth was not alone.

The Federal Trade Commission recently took action against Blue Hippo Funding and Capital for its sales tactics. Part of their complaint alleged Blue Hippo debited customer accounts without disclosing before delivery of the product. The complaint also states, Blue Hippo failed to provide written agreements disclosing terms and conditions before debiting customers non-refundable payments.

Blue Hippo is charged with violating the FTC mail order rule by failed to hop merchandise in a timely fashion.

Now as part of the settlement, Blue Hippo Funding and Capital has agreed to pay at least $3.5 million and up to $5 million towards refunds for customers.

The settlement maybe too late for Ruth, but she hopes others don't fall for the same sales pitch. Her simple message to Blue Hippo is, "I want my money back."

As for when Blue Hippo will start refunding customers, the FTC says the refunds should happen within the year, and the refunds go directly to customers who had contracts with Blue Hippo before March 2006.

As for customers who have contracts after that time, if you have a complaint, you should file it with the FTC.

Blue Hippo entered into the settlement but did not admit to any wrong doing. Blue Hippo did not return our calls for a comment.

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