After more than a year investigating the Slanted Fedora conventions, and its owner David Scott, the Kansas attorney general's office has finally filed suit against the Kansas-based company for allegedly bilking customers.
The suit was filed last week in Johnson County District Court naming Slanted Fedora Entertainment, David Scott and his wife Jackie Scott of violating Kansas Consumer Protection Act in 27 transactions. If the court finds in the state attorney's office favor, the couple could be fined up to $10,000 for each violation.
In response to the lawsuit, David Scott told the Kansas City Star that he did pay back customers who wanted refunds, but some of them went slow because of financial problems the convention has been having. The suit, however, also accuses Scott of repeatedly cancelling conventions without refunding deposits. But Scott denies this, saying that two conventions were rescheduled following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and cancelled another one after that. He told the paper he gave customers the choice of refunds, credit for future conventions, or merchandise.
The suit also accuses Slanted Fedora of promoting speakers that ended up not appearing at conventions. Scott explained that sometimes talent cancelled on short notice.
The suit finally accuses Slanted Fedora of double-charging credit and debit cards. Scott said that "five or six" customers were accidentally double-charged, but they received refunds.
The story of the investigation was first broke by Airlock Alpha in Summer 2002. In a July 1, 2002 story, Kansas Attorney General's office spokesman Mark Ohlemeier said that the office had received seven consumer complaints from across the country about Slanted Fedora. At the time, the office had received seven complaints, only one actually coming from Kansas. Others came from California, Maine, Connecticut, Ohio and Michigan. All the complaints were similar in nature, and were being investigated individually, Ohlemeier said.
The attorney general's office originally tried to contact Scott in February 2002, and when it couldn't get Scott to answer a subpoena, a judge in April 2002 filed an order forbidding the company from the sale or advertisement of "any merchandise or servies within the state of Kansas ... until (Scott) satisfies the court thae he has obeyed the order." (original story). That order was lifted May 24, 2002.
The original roder only identified Kansas statute 60-623, which promotes the protection of consumers from suppliers who commit deceptive and unconscionable practices, protects consumers from unbargained for warranty disclaimers and provides customers with a three-day cancellation period for door-to-door sales.
During the original story, Ohlemeier did say that none of the complaints came from actor Patrick Stewart (Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, "Star Trek: The Next Generation"). The actor publicly slammed Slanted Fedora in January 2002 after the convention claimed he would be at a 2001 convention. When the actor was approached about the appearance, and Stewart -- who said he never signed an agreement to appear -- had a scheduling conflict and could not attend, he did agree to sell 1,000 autographed photos, which he said he was not paid for.
"we have made mistakes, lots of them," Scott told Airlock Alpha last year. "We will continue to make mistakes, unfortunately lots of them. As always, people who attend our conventions are, for the most part, satisfied. Those who do not attend would prefer that we were something different, or gone completely."
The Kansas attorney general's office is still looking for others who feel they might have been hurt by Slanted Fedora's business practices. They can call 1-800-432-2310.
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