Luskin's seeks injunction to protect air fare giveaway

September 18, 1992|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

BEL AIR -- Luskin's Inc. is seeking an injunction to block a challenge by the attorney general's office that its air fare giveaway ads violate Maryland consumer protection law.

Luskin's filed its complaint in Harford Circuit Court last Friday.

The Howard County-based retailer, which has a dozen metropolitan outlets, says it voluntarily discontinued an ad campaign July 31 that offered "free airfare . . . with selected purchases" and presented a revised campaign to the Consumer Protection Division on Aug. 17.

The division had notified the company July 27 that its print and television promotions in June violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. It cited three reasons:

* Consumers had to buy items to receive a vacation.

* Consumers were required to book hotel accommodations through a travel agent to receive the free airfare.

* Ads did not inform consumers of the retail cost of the air fare.

The key change in Luskin's new ad campaign was that a "certificate" for air fare and vacation would be offered with any selected purchase. The ads also contain a disclosure that consumers are not required to make any purchase at Luskin's to receive the certificate.

Luskin's contends that the new ads violated no state law. It says the Consumer Protection Division is erroneously interpreting provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

Principals on both sides agree that the dispute centers on whether Luskin's sales promotion represents a prize.

"The General Assembly prohibits free prizes" in sales promotions, said William Leibovici, chief of the Consumer Protection Division.

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