Angie’s List Manipulated Reviews and Ratings Class Action

Angie’s List offers consumers a listing of local service providers (plumbers, carpenters, masseuses, dentists, mechanics, etc.) along with reviews, rankings, and ratings. The beauty of Angie’s List is that it allows consumers who have already had experience with particular service providers to post reviews about them. Consumers pay a monthly fee to become members and get access to these supposedly unbiased reviews before hiring a service provider.

The class action alleges that, instead of providing unbiased and unfiltered information, Angie’s List secretly manipulates the information it posts for the company’s own economic gain.

According to Angie’s List, a service provider’s position in a member’s search results “is determined by their recent grades and number of reviews. Companies with the best ratings from members will appear first.” It also assures consumers that “service providers cannot influence their ratings on Angie’s List,” and that businesses and companies can’t pay to be on the list. Angie’s List claims it places the interests of the consumer first, and that it “simply acts a passive conduit” for reviews and ratings based upon actual first-hand experiences other users have had.

The plaintiff alleges that, in fact, service providers can and do pay to influence their reviews, rankings, and ratings, in at least three ways.

First, the plaintiff alleges that service providers can pay to appear higher up in members’ search results. For example, a plumber with an A rating and all positive reviews who did not pay “advertising” fees may rank lower than a plumber who did pay such fees but has worse reviews or ratings. One investigation report alleges that the best-reviewed heating and air company in its area was ranked below eleven others that had inferior ratings or few reviews. This best-reviewed service provider claimed that Angie’s List had asked it to pay $12,000-$15,000 for ranking at the top of the list.

Second, the plaintiff alleges that service providers can pay to suppress negative reviews, so that these reviews do not appear in members’ search results. Members are therefore not getting the objective assessment that Angie’s List promises to give them.

Third, the plaintiff alleges that Angie’s List threatens to suppress positive reviewers of service providers unless they pay “advertising” fees. This also prevents members from making an accurate assessment of the service providers.  

Angie’s List promises unfiltered reviews, ratings, and rankings, driven entirely by consumer opinion. The class action alleges that it does not provide this, so that it defrauds its members. It alleges that Angie’s List does not help members find the best service providers, but rather those who have paid the most to Angie’s List.


Safeway Brand Frozen Waffles 100% Natural Class Action Lawsuit

In September 2013, Ryan Richards filed a class action suit against Safeway, Inc., a California corporation, claiming the grocery store unlawfully and deceptively marketed its Open Nature brand frozen waffles as “100% Natural”, when the product contained the chemical preservative Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (SAPP), in violation of California business code and consumer protection laws.


SAPP is an odorless white powder with various uses in the food service industry, including as a leavening agent in baking powders.  The substance is also used for stain removal in treating leather and to facilitate hair and feather removal in animal slaughter.  Excessive use can lead to imbalanced mineral levels in the body and bone loss. 


In his lawsuit, Mr. Richards alleges that he purchased Safeway Open Nature 100% Natural Multi-Grain waffles for himself and his daughter at Safeway grocery stores in California multiple times over several years in reliance on the accuracy of the label representation that the products were “100% Natural.”  He alleges that he paid a higher price for the waffles than he would have to pay for similar products that were not labeled “100% Natural” (i.e. , waffles that were acknowledged to contain synthetic ingredients).   Richards claims he would not have purchased the products if he had known that a synthetic ingredient was contained in the products.


Safeway developed the Open Nature product line for consumers looking for products with all natural ingredients and marketed the line as “made with the best quality ingredients that nature offers.”   The company website asked consumers to “trust” Safeway that ingredients would be listed on the front of the package, warned of “hidden ingredients, like artificial flavors, colors, and preservative,” and noted the lack of federal oversight of natural products.


According to FDA policy, a product is not accurately described as “natural” if it contains color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.  In September 2014, the FDA warned a Massachusetts bakery that the use of the term "ALL NATURAL” on a bakery product was considered to be misbranding, in violation of section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [21 USC § 343(a)(1)], because the product contained SAPP, a synthetic ingredient.  Click here to read the FDA letter.  The Safeway Open Nature packaging allegedly included the representation “100% Natural” and appeared nine times and on all six sides of the product packaging.






Toyota Excess Oil Consumption Class Action Lawsuit

This class action alleges that Toyota’s 2AZ-FE engine is defectively designed and/or manufactured and these defects lead to excessive oil consumption.  

Toyota’s 2AZ-FE engine is a 2.4 liter engine that was manufactured by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. at its manufacturing plant in Kentucky. The 2AZ-FE engine is a straight-four piston engine with an aluminum engine block, cast iron cylinder liners and aluminum cylinder heads with dual overhead camshafts.
The following models and model years have the 2Az-FE engine

  • 2007-2011 Toyota Camry HV, 
  • 2007-2009 Toyota Camry, 
  • 2009 Toyota Corolla,
  • 2009 Toyota Matrix,
  • 2006-2008 Toyota RAV4,
  • 2007-2008 Toyota Solara, 
  • 2007-2009 Scion tC, and
  • 2008-2009 Scion xB 

The lawsuit alleges that certain parts of the piston are defectively designed such that excess oil leaks into the combustion engine.

The lawsuit first alleges that the pistons and piston ring assemblies are defectively designed or manufactured and have insufficient tension which can cause engine oil to seep into the combustion chamber.

The lawsuit further alleges that the oil control ring groove and patin drain holes are defectively designed or manufactured  which can cause debris build up that in turn prevents the oil from returning to the oil pan.

The lawsuit alleges that these two design and/or manufacture defects can cause excess oil consumption.

iCard Gift Card Spam Text Messages Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that iCard Gift Card sent unsolicited text messages promoting pre-paid gift cards to consumers’ cell phones without express consent from those consumers.

iCard Gift Cards offers merchants the ability to offer consumers gift cards.  The class action lawsuit alleges that beginning in 2015, and continuing for weeks if not months, iCard Gift Cards and its agents caused the mass transmissions of wireless spam text messages to the cell phones of individuals it hoped were potential purchasers of its gift cards.

The plaintiff received such a text message in July, 2015, The “from” field of the transmission was identified cryptically as “313131,” which is an abbreviated telephone number known as an SMS short code operated by iCard Gift Cards and/or its agents. 

The body of such text message read: 

Do you have an iPhone? Download the new iCard Gift Card app in the App Store and save 10% on your gift card purchase. Enter promo code: APP10

At no time did Plaintiff provide consent, including any written consent, to receive the above referenced message or any other such wireless spam from Defendant, its agents, or
partner entities.

In 2015 it is simply a violation of federal law for businesses to send marketing-related text messages to consumers without express consent from the consumer.

Total Customer Services Illegal Debt Collection Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Total Customer Services violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by leaving voice messages on consumers’ answering machines that failed to properly identify that Total Customer Services was a debt collector attempting to collect on a debt.

The FDCPA is designed to prohibit unfair debt collection practices.  The FDCPA has “per se” violations, which means that such a violation is automatically a violation of the FDCPA.  To prohibit harassment and abuses by debt collectors, the FDCPA, at 15 U.S.C. § 1692d, provides that a debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt and names a non-exhaustive list of certain per se violations of harassing and abusive collection conduct. 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(l)-(6). Among the per se violations prohibited by that section are the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity. 15 U.S.C. § 1692d(6).

This lawsuit alleges that Total Customer Services violated the FDCPA by among other acts:

  • Leaving messages for consumers, which fail to provide meaningful disclosure of Defendant's identity;
  • Leaving messages for consumers, which fail to disclose that the call is from a debt collector; and
  • Leaving messages for consumers, which fail to disclose the purpose or nature of the communication (i.e. an attempt to collect a debt).

Benny Burritos Delivery Workers Unpaid Overtime Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that the owners of up to seven Benny Burritos and Blockhead Burritos restaurants in New York City failed to pay overtime to its delivery workers and also required those workers to perform off the clock work.  The lawsuit alleges a plethora of additional employment law violations as well but this write up deals only with this primary set of allegations.

In downtown New York, most restaurants offer delivery service, usually performed by employees riding bikes.  Those employees typically receive an hourly wage below minimum wage plus tips.

Defendants own and operate a chain of Mexican restaurants in New York City, each of which appear to do business under the names Blockhead Burrito or Benny’s Burritos.  Each of the plaintiffs work as delivery workers of one or more of those restaurants.

The lawsuit alleges that each delivery worker must perform a variety of non-tipped and non-delivery work while employed at either Benny’s Burritos or Blockhead Burritos.  This work included stocking the restaurant; typical janitorial work such as taking out the garbage, mopping and sweeping the restaurants, and cleaning the windows; food preparation; transporting items between the various restaurants; and receiving store deliveries.

So there is the rub:  If a delivery worker is getting a below minimum wage hourly salary because that worker is getting tips, then an employer can not maintain that same pay structure if the tipped worker is performing other non tipped work.

The complaint also alleges off the clock work, failure to maintain accurate records, paying employees two separate paychecks to avoid paying overtime and failure to offer meal breaks.

Cornerstone Lending Unpaid Overtime Loan Officers Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Cornerstone Home Lending violated federal employment laws by not paying loan officers time and a half for overtime.

Cornerstone claims that it is “a national home lender” which “has more than 1,000 full-time employees” and “[o]ver 100 branch offices throughout the United States.”   Cornerstone offers mortgages and loan products to individual consumers in at least 36 states and claims that it “ranks #30 nationally [in] annual loan volume among all home lenders” and “ranks #10 nationally among independent mortgage companies.”

Plaintiff Christina Bingham currently resides in Peoria, Arizona. She was a loan officer at Cornerstone from approximately October 2014 until March 2015 at a Scottsdale, Arizona branch office. 

She was compensated by getting a weekly “draw” against commissions, which practically meant she was a commission employee.  She alleges that she was discouraged from inputting more than 40 hours a week into Cornerstone’s timekeeping system and she further alleges that at times her employer would enter in only 40 hours of work for her when in fact she worked substantially more than 40 hours.

The plaintiff goes on the allege that her schedule fluctuated from day-today.  Her regular schedule had her working Mondays through Fridays, generally from 8:30 am until 8:00 pm. Additionally, she worked at least five (5) to six (6) weekend days every month, generally working from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Plaintiff also performed additional hours of work each week using her mobile device to send and receive business-related emails, texts, and/or phone calls. As such, during this time period, Plaintiff’s regular schedule had her working an average of 60-65 hours per week.

Loan Officers are not “exempt” under federal wage and hour laws and therefore must be compensated time and a half for all hours worked each week over 40.  She alleges that she was not and that there are many similar situated current and former loan officers who were similarly underpaid.

C.TECH Illegal Debt Collections Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that debt collector C.TECH sent debt collection letters demanding payment of an amount larger than the actual amount owed, and to the extent the additional amount was collection fees or interest, C.TECH failed to itemize those added charges.

This is yet another class action challenging the practices of the debt collection industry.

Here, the plaintiff owed $585.56 to Radiology Associates or Ridgewood.  Yet when the debt went to collections, C.TECH sent various written communications to the plaintiff demanding payment of $731.95.

The lawsuit alleges that by sending initial and/or subsequent collection letters to Plaintiff and others similarly situated that identified an amount owed that was greater than the actual balance due and/or an amount due that included a collection or other fee that was not separately itemized from the principal balance, C-TECH violated several provisions of
the FDCPA, including, but not limited:

  • 15 U.S.C. §1692e, by using a false, deceptive or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692e(2)(A), by falsely representing the character, amount, or legal status of any debt;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692e(2)(B), by falsely representing any services rendered or compensation which may lawfully be received by a debt collector for the collection of a debt;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692e(10) by using any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692f by using unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt;
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692f(1), by collecting or attempting to collect any amount not expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law; and
  • 15 U.S.C. §1692g and 15 U.S.C. §1692g(a)(1), by failing to accurately identify the amount of the debt allegedly owed.

Sunoco Rewards Card Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Sunoco does not always pay the 5 cent per gallon discount it advertises to Sunoco Rewards Credit Card cardholders.

It is common practice for gas companies to offer reward programs to consumers who use the gas company’s credit card to purchase gas.  Sunoco offers a 5 cent per gallon discount to all consumers that first open a Sunoco Rewards Credit Card and then use that card to purchase gas at a Sunoco gas station.

The complaint goes to some length to chronicle Sunoco’s efforts to market the 5 cent per gallon discount, reciting the advertising and claims on Sunoco’s web site as well as photographs of Sunoco’s brochures.

The plaintiff in this case used the Sunoco Credit Card in January, 2015 and then again in April, 2015.  He noticed that he did not receive the 5 cent discount.  The lawsuit alleges that he contacted Sunoco and was even told he should get the discount, but Sunoco at no time ever gave him the discount.

Consequently, he brought this suit and seeks to represent a class of cardholders that did not get the promised 5 cent per gallon discount when using their Sunoco Rewards Credit Card at Sunoco gas stations.

Nutritional Brands Junk Fax Class Action Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Nutritional Brands sent unsolicited faxes to various persons and business in violation of federal law.

The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005, 47 USC § 227 prohibits a business from sending faxes to other businesses or persons without express consent from the receiving party.  The law places a $500 per fax fine on the sender.

It is about that clear.

In this case the plaintiff Scoma Chiropractic received a unsolicited fax from Nutritional Brands in May, 2015.  The complaint alleges that it was part of a broad marketing campaign and thousands of others also received unsolicited faxes.

Not much else to say.  Its that simple.