Consumers to get refunds under settlement with local company

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced last Friday that his Corporate Oversight Division has secured $20,000 in reimbursements for Oakland County residents who did not get the snow-plowing services they paid for this winter.

The payments are part of a settlement agreement with Five Star Landscaping and Snow Removal and its owner, Karl Bolin of Waterford Township. The agreement resolves issues raised by the attorney general in a cease-and-desist letter to Five Star Landscaping last month in which Schuette’s office said it intended to file a lawsuit. 

The Corporate Oversight Division anticipates it will be sending out claim forms to the more than sixty consumers that filed complaints with the Attorney General about Five Star. These claim forms will help the Attorney General’s staff determine the appropriate amount of all settlement disbursements.

“I am very pleased we are able to start putting money back into consumers’ pockets,” said Schuette. “My office will work hard to make sure this company does a better job of scraping together payments than it did on driveways.”

This agreement, which is called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, was filed last Friday with the Ingham County Circuit Court. The agreement explains that, over the past two weeks, Five Star Landscaping made $4,000 in refunds as part of a good-faith showing in negotiations with the attorney general’s Corporate Oversight Division. Five Star and Bolin, will make another $16,000 in payments to the attorney general for distribution to affected consumers.

In the settlement, Five Star also agreed to make several improvements to its operation for next winter. Although it had more than eight hundred customers this winter, it may not have more than 500 next winter. It also must assign fewer customers to each subcontractor and plow truck. Five Star’s compliance with these measures will be monitored by the Corporate Oversight Division through documents that Bolin must provide early in the next snow-plowing season. The agreement contains a provision expressly warning Five Star and Bolin that, if there is evidence of any future violations of the Consumer Protection Act, the attorney general will bring a lawsuit asking a court to permanently stop them from undertaking snow-plowing services.

The agreement states that Five Star and Bolin do not admit to any violations of the law, and that it is being entered to resolve the dispute and avoid the threatened lawsuit. Payments to consumers will be made over the next several months as Five Star and Bolin make installment payments to the attorney general.