UPDATE on: Pinnacle sued again


Pinnacle Security got back to me with a response regarding a new lawsuit filed against the company that I wrote about this morning, so I wanted to include Pinnacle's side here.

I’ve just been writing recently about Pinnacle's efforts to fight the negative image that came with an “F” rating that the Utah-based summer model company received from the Better Business Bureau in 2009. Pinnacle contends it is being "unfairly tainted" by the rating now because it has transformed its corporate culture this year to address such issues as “rogue” sales staff using deceptive sales tactics and the state licensing problems that earned it the low ratings. The company now is going around the country saying any problems dated back to a time of explosive growth in 2009, and that the company changed in 2010.

But I had just learned about a lawsuit against Pinnacle filed last week by the Ohio attorney general that makes the same old charges of deceptive practices by Pinnacle's door-to-door sales staff. It seemed at odds with Pinnacle's new image makeover.

However, Stuart Dean, vice president of corporate communications, told me early this afternoon that the claims in the lawsuit appear to predate the changes at Pinnacle.

The company just learned of the lawsuit late last Friday and has not had a chance to review it and can't respond in detail, Dean said. However, he said, "Our understanding is that many of the claims are going back to issues raised in 2009 or earlier."

It's not clear from the filing when the Ohio AG is alleging the violations by Pinnacle took place. I've called the AG's office to find out more and am awaiting a response.

In the lawsuit, filed Dec. 17, Attorney General Richard Cordray accuses Pinnacle “of installing security systems in Ohioans’ homes based on misrepresentations and then failing to honor rights to cancellation.” Cordray says that is among other violations Pinnacle allegedly committed against Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.

“Through door-to-door sales, this company encouraged consumers to sign contracts and then installed home security systems on the spot,” Cordray said in a statement. “My office received more than 50 complaints, many from consumers who bought the systems based on misrepresentations of the product or its prices. Pinnacle often refused to allow consumers to cancel and continued to bill them for the systems that they did not want. Through today’s lawsuit we are asking the court to issue a permanent injunction to end these sales practices and to order Pinnacle to pay restitution to Ohio consumers.”

Ohio isn’t the only state to have taken action against Pinnacle. The company this year agreed to settle lawsuits filed in 2009 by Illinois and also New York, both of which accused the company of misleading sales practices.

And security giant ADT this November also filed suit  against Pinnacle, alleging it used deceptive sales tactics to steal ADT’s customers. Pinnacle denies that claim, saying the Florida-based ADT is just threatened by Pinnacle’s growing success in the home security market.