U.S. Water News Online
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Attorney General Jay Nixon has filed
suit 0against the owners of Hague Quality Water of the Ozarks for
repeatedly violating Missouri's consumer protection laws in the sale
of its water systems. Nixon is seeking at least $55,000 in
restitution for consumers who say representatives of Hague falsely
promised them the water treatment system would improve their family's
health, save water and give them other benefits. Nixon's lawsuit says
the misrepresentations violate Missouri law.
"This company pours out promises it knows it will not deliver,"
Nixon says. "We want an immediate end to this deception, and
repayment for all of the families taken by the company's
Nixon filed his lawsuit in Greene County Circuit Court against K
& H Mitchell Inc., which does business as Hague Quality Water of
the Ozarks. The suit also names Heather Mitchell, Republic, and Keith
Mitchell, Springfield, as defendants.
Eleven consumers from throughout Missouri have complained to the
Attorney General about problems with the defendants. Hague Quality
Water has offices in Republic and Joplin, and previously had an
office in Columbia.
The suit states that since at least August 2002, Hague Quality
Water of the Ozarks has advertised, offered and sold water treatment
systems to Missouri consumers. Hague sales representatives go to
consumers' homes and give presentations that usually last more than
During the presentation, they "test" the consumers' tap water for
various conditions including "hardness" and the presence of chlorine.
Hague's sales representatives then tell the consumers their tap water
is hard and contains chemicals and substances that have been proven
hazardous to their health. The consumers are told the Hague water
treatment system, which costs several thousand dollars, will
alleviate these problems.
According to the lawsuit, Hague sales representatives gave at
least one consumer articles on how the water treatment system would
improve the asthma and eczema of the consumer's son. The consumer
bought the water treatment system based on this information. To date,
the consumer's son has not experienced any improvement. Nixon says
this misrepresentation violates the law.
Another of Hague's deceptive practices involves financing. Hague
sales representatives routinely tell consumers they will help them
obtain financing to pay for the water treatment system, and if the
consumers make payments of $99 a month the system will be paid for in
four or five years. The lawsuit says that some customers end up
getting financing at an interest rate which does not allow them to
pay off the system in four or five years, as they were promised. They
do not learn this until they receive their first bill.
According to the lawsuit, Hague also fails to comply with
Missouri's law that gives buyers a three-day right of rescission.
This law states that consumers must be told they have three days to
terminate their contract after an in-home sales presentation. Many
Hague customers are not told about this. Others are told they have
until installation to terminate the transaction. One consumer was
told Hague offered a 60-day trial period.
Consumers who tried to cancel the contract based on the time frame
specified by Hague employees have been denied cancellation. They were
told they were only entitled to a three-day right of rescission,
regardless of what was said during the sales presentation.
Nixon is seeking a permanent injunction that bars Hague Quality
Water of the Ozarks and its employees from further unlawful, unfair
and deceptive acts. The Attorney General is seeking full restitution
for all consumers who have been misled by the deceptive practices
named in the lawsuit. Nixon also is seeking a civil penalty of $1,000
per violation and payment of court and investigate costs.
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