Although renters usually expect to pay through the owner of the property for utilities, they usually only expect to do so if it is specifically included in the lease. According to a recent class action lawsuit against Regus PLC and its subsidiaries, the company allegedly charged fees to its renters for kitchen amenities, use of the telephones, telecom handsets, and internet activation and access.
According to the complaint, each plaintiff was provided with an “Office Agreement” which listed the location of the office, the duration of the client’s entitlement to the office, the amount of the “Initial Payment”, the amount of the security deposit, and the monthly payment from that point forward. The agreement allegedly did not “disclose any goods, services, penalties, and/or taxes for which Regus assesses charges and the amounts or methods of calculation of Regus’ charges associated with such goods, services, penalties, and/or taxes.”
However, once the plaintiffs received their bills, they found charges for things which were never mentioned in the lease. These charges included “amounts for one or more of the following …: i) ‘Kitchen Amenities Fee;’ ii) ‘Telephone Lines;’ iii) ‘Telecom Handset;’ iv) ‘Local Telephone;’ v) Internet activation and access charges; vi) taxes; and vii) penalties”. The lawsuit refers to these charges collectively as the “Unauthorized Charges”. Because of these Unauthorized Charges, the monthly payments made by clients was regularly in excess of what the Office Agreement had provided. However, if clients failed to pay these extra charges, they were allegedly subjected to penalties by Regus.
The lawsuit further alleges that Regus had clients make payment via an automated system in which the charges were automatically applied to the clients’ debit card or credit card. This meant that customers frequently got charged by Regus before even seeing a bill or having a chance to dispute the charges.
According to the complaint that was filed, Regus is also guilty of false advertising. Contrary to the experiences of the plaintiffs, the advertisements that Regus put on its website included the following:
“With Regus, you only pay for what you need when you need it”; “No up front capital expenditure required”; and “Flexible terms and one-page agreements.”
The complaint alleges that the additional fees the plaintiffs were charged directly contradict, not only the leases which were signed by the plaintiffs, but also the advertisements provided by Regus. For example, regarding the kitchen amenities, the lawsuit alleges that “Regus assessed a $30 per person monthly charge to Plaintiff … in excess of the monthly office payment amount indicated in the Office Agreement. Neither Regus’s practice of assessing this charge nor the amount of the charge is disclosed in the Office Agreement or the Fine Print. The charge was assessed regardless of whether any kitchen amenities were used.”
As far as the use of the telecom handset for which some plaintiffs were charged, the complaint alleges that “the retail value of the two handsets provided by Regus does not exceed $99.00, yet Regus charged … a total of $222.75 (including purported taxes) per month for the use of the handsets during the term of the Office Agreement.”
The lawsuit seeks to bring a class action which would include everyone who had an Office Agreement or similar agreement for one of Regus’s locations in California and who paid one or more of the Unauthorized Charges between May 8, 2008 and the time that the complaint was filed. The lawsuit is also petitioning for a second New York class which would consist of similarly situated renters in the state of New York. The plaintiffs are currently unaware of just how many people qualify to participate in the classes, but they believe that each class could consist of more than 100 members.
The Chicago class action attorneys at Lubin Austermuehle located in Chicago and Oak Brook near Wheaton and Naperville have decades of experience representing consumers throughout the greater Chicago area and the Mid-West region, including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. Class action lawsuits give consumers a way to assert their rights in cases of consumer fraud, even if they lack the resources individually to fight a much larger opponent. Please contact us today online, at (630) 333-0333, or at (833) 306-4933 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.