SEATTLE — A judge has ruled that Value Village deceived customers in its advertising and misled consumers that it was a charity or nonprofit for a decade, the Washington state attorney general announced Friday.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the company violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act.
“Value Village profited by misleading Washingtonians into believing that it was a nonprofit,” Ferguson said. “My office received numerous complaints from consumers who feel deceived by Value Village’s advertising.”
Ferguson said in a news release that Value Village is a for-profit business that brings in $1 billion in revenue annually.
King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff found that Value Village misled local Washingtonians into thinking that their purchases benefited charities.
Rogoff will determine the penalties the company will face.
In 2017, Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the company that owns Value Village.
The suit alleged that TVI Inc., of Bellevue, had used deceptive marketing that led consumers and donors to believe that Value Village is a nonprofit or charity and that that types of donations and purchases benefited charity.
In 2018, a federal judge dismissed a preemptive lawsuit filed against Ferguson by TVI Inc. The lawsuit said the attorney general had demanded $3.2 million to settle a three-year investigation but that the demand violated its free speech rights.
Value Village's general counsel, Rich Medway, provided KIRO 7 with this statement:
"Value Village is proud of our business and we have operated with the support of our customers and non-profit partners for more than 50 years."
"Today, the judge commended our business model, saying, 'there is nothing wrong with TVI's business model, in fact I would say that we should have more corporate community members who reuse unusable, unsellable items; who look for ways to properly get rid of the stuff they can't sell; who work with charities and non-profits, who do the kind of business that they do.'"
"Value Village won the majority of the claims at trial. The court ruled that we have always operated in accordance with Washington state's Charitable Solicitations Act. The judge also confirmed in today's ruling that Value Village has always paid for all goods donated by the public to our non-profit partners, which he said 'provide a steady stream of funds to support the incredible work those charities do.'"
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