A US cookware supplier has been heavily penalised for frightening customers into believing that non-stick pots and pans would damage their health.
HyCite Corporation will have to pay $1m in restitution to its Californian customers, along with fines and costs to the Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs and Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Brown said that the sales tactics of HyCite, which sells its Royal Prestige cookware door to door, amounted to consumer fraud.
“HyCite’s sales approach has been to scare people into buying high-priced pots and pans by telling customers that the cookware in their own home was unsafe,” he said.
“Once in people’s homes, the salespeople often used high-pressure sales tactics and deception to convince consumers to buy the expensive cookware.
“Salespeople scared consumers into believing that cookware made of non-stick materials or aluminium would make them sick, claiming that Royal Prestige’s stainless steel cookware was safer to use.”
Part of the selling process was to conduct bogus experiments to demonstrate the alleged dangers of non-stick coatings.
HyCite also used discriminatory practices in its dealings with customers. “Anglo” customers were offered a payment plan that included post-dated cheques and 90-day deferral, which was not available to Latino customers.