A court judgment requires Jennifer Convertibles to significantly reform its practices and to provide restitution to consumers, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced.

The judgment permanently enjoins Jennifer Convertibles from engaging in deceptive, fraudulent or illegal business practices, and requires the company to make substantial reforms to its sales practices and customer service operations.

The judgment also requires Jennifer Convertibles to make restitution to consumers for its failure to replace or repair defective goods. In addition, Jennifer Convertibles agreed to pay $275,000 in penalties, and $2,000 in costs.

"My office will continue to commence enforcement actions against companies that violate the law by engaging in deceptive practices," Spitzer said. "The court's order requires the company to change its business practices and ensures that those customers who have received defective merchandise from Jennifer Convertibles will receive restitution."

The company, based in Woodbury, Long Island, operates retail stores in 21 states with more than 50 showrooms in New York State.

The charges against the company sound familiar to Janet of Montclair, CA, who complained to ConsumerAffairs.com a few months ago about Jennifer's failure to remedy problems with a sofa and loveseat despite the $200 she spent on the company's "lifetime" protection plan.

"I called to make a claim and they said someone will call me within five days. No one ever did. When I called back the lady said sorry it's not their problem. I feel so ripped off," Janet said.

Jennifer Convertibles agreed to the consent judgment after the Attorney General filed a motion for contempt in April 2004 alleging that the company was in violation of a 1998 order that prohibited deceptive business practices. The 1998 order was obtained after hundreds of consumers filed complaints with the Attorney General's office.

However, since January 2000, Spitzer's office has received more than 200 new complaints alleging that Jennifer Convertibles failed to provide refunds for damaged or defective furniture, failed to repair or replace defective merchandise, and did not honor guarantees and warranties.

Under the new judgment, Jennifer Convertibles is required to give new consumers full notice of their rights to obtain refunds for damaged or defective goods, or to elect to have the merchandise repaired or replaced. The judgment also requires Jennifer Convertibles to honor its warranties and guarantees, and clearly disclose any restrictions on them. In addition, the company has agreed to improve its customer service operations, by maintaining a toll-free telephone number for consumer inquiries, providing proper training for its customer service representatives and promptly responding to consumer complaints.

Consumers who believe they may be eligible for restitution should file a complaint with the New York State Attorney General's Office no later than 180 days from July 21, 2004. Consumers may contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.