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Company Labeled Ogre for Selling Half-Empty ‘Disney Princess’ Kits Here

San Diego officials tell $250,000 in costs, penalties against Horizon Group USA Inc. of New Jersey.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — A $13 “Disney Princess” jewelry kit left the mother of a 6-year-old girl unhappy when it was found to be half-empty.

Now a New Jersey company that marketed the kit in California will find its wallet $250,000 lighter.

The company must pay $225,000 in costs and penalties for distributing deceptively packaged jewelry-making kits marketed to California children, city and county officials announced Thursday.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis filed a consumer protection case with the San Diego Superior Court against Horizon Group USA Inc. of Warren, NJ, after the City Attorney’s Office received a complaint from a woman who bought the “Disney Princess” kit for her daughter, 6, later to find that half the package was empty.

Stickers covered empty compartments and only those filled were visible.

“I can’t even imagine the disappointment of … probably a young lady who picks up one of these things expecting to have a full box of beads and things to play with, and really the fact of the matter is they're just getting gypped,” Dumanis said.

More than 16,000 of the $13 kits were delivered to California Target, Walmart, Toys “R” Us and Michaels stores and were sold online.

They have been taken off the market, said Assistant City Attorney Tricia Pummill.

The city attorney’s Consumer & Environmental Unit investigated the complaint then joined with the District Attorney’s Office for action.

“It’s our responsibility to protect consumers and this was misleading, aimed at children and its not going to happen in San Diego, or for that matter California,” Goldsmith said.

Prosecutors alleged in the civil complaint that the kits “were packaged in containers that were constructed or filled as to facilitate the perpetration of fraud, in violation of state consumer protection laws.”

Horizon cooperated with prosecutors and stipulated to the entry of a judgment without admitting wrongdoing. Judge Judith F. Hayes signed a stipulated final judgment that required the company to pay $225,000 in costs and penalties and prohibits similar future violations within the state.

Disney was not part of the case.

Dumanis said the judgment was a warning that companies “will be held accountable for deceptive business practices that violate the law.”

Deputy District Attorney Tom Papageorge said consumer fraud was preventable by a well-educated populace.

He advised consumers to do research to make sure a product was not too good to be true, ask a salesperson what was included in the package and ask about return policies.

A Better Business Bureau website gave Horizon Group an A-plus rating.

The site said: “BBB has determined that Horizon Group USA Inc. meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.”

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Edgar Morris Leonard Sr November 18, 2012 at 07:27 AM
Too much of greed, and anything else, is more greed. When will the greed stop.? God bless the legal system to take the appropriate and effective action against such deception and intolerable heinous greed. True Faith Minister.
Dennis Hull November 18, 2012 at 07:54 AM
Greed lives in all countries of the world (and in comfort I must say)
MiMi November 18, 2012 at 01:02 PM
The kit was probably made in China....this company should have to pay the damages....it doesn't matter....so many companies try to scam people these days....it is sad that this is just the *TIP OF THE ICEBERG*.....it is sad that such as this goes on in this world today....too many CROOKS, CORRUPTION AND COVER UP....throughout our country and the world as well....
David Smith November 18, 2012 at 03:12 PM
First I certainly don't blame President Obama, Clearly it is the Fault of the American government and its corporate leaders and their greed. And to the comment cereals are sold by weight, really thanks, they just want to impress the public with a large box - certainly a better product, more hot air. I began to think that's why everything purchased today is sold in odd weights & sizes, so consumers can't compare pricing simply between items example ... Coffee at 31 to- 39 oz containers and have prices different at different locations, surely different sizing promotes cheaper box cost ? Yes, our children can start off the day (Children are the primary consumers of cereals) WITH A BOWL OF HOT AIR & CEREAL each morning always thinking of America. Good for southern California, fine should have been million. OH, this from a republican, and really what do people have against the oil companies ?? remember this is a capitalist society and they did pay billions in taxes last year and the year before & before that while others like GE paid none, moving to china and giving them technology that will allow them to go into competion with American Airplane Manufactors, Yep and Auto industries not far behind.

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