Two online digital camera and electronic retailers used deceptive tactics to dupe consumers into buying overpriced and, in some cases, used products, according to a lawsuit filed today by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Abbott's office charged Broadway Photo, L.L.C. and Starlight Camera & Video Inc., both of Brooklyn, N.Y, with conducting unlawful bait-and-switch sales schemes.

According to state investigators, those companies hoodwinked consumers by offering the lowest retail prices on price-comparison Web sites.

Once consumers bought merchandise and made credit card purchases on the companies' Web sites, they were told their orders had been processed. Despite those notifications, consumers were later told to call and confirm their orders.

"Rather than use the calls to confirm customers orders, the defendants instead initiated aggressive, high-pressure sales pitches promoting over-priced accessories, including memory cards and batteries," Abbott's office said in a written statement. "The defendants' telemarketers insisted these upgraded accessories were needed in order for the customers' confirmed merchandise to function normally."

When consumers refused those offers, the companies told them their merchandise was "substandard and lacked warranties," Abbott said.

"The defendants' telemarketers encouraged customers to purchase different, more expensive products," Abbott said. "If customers refused, the defendants canceled the orders, claiming the products were indefinitely back-ordered. When the defendants actually did ship orders, customers who intended to purchase new merchandise often received used or refurbished products."

Abbott's office is seeking restitution for consumers, injunctions to stop the companies' action, and civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Texas consumers taken by the companies' schemes can file complaints on the Attorney General's Web site.

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