Costa Del Mar Lawsuit Filed
Costa Del Mar, Inc. is facing a class action suit that alleges the sunglass maker’s lifetime warranty on its non-prescription sunglasses is a scam that results in customers paying far more than the company’s advertised “nominal fee” for repairs and replacements. Costa is the fourth-largest brand of sunglasses in America. The company proclaims in its advertising, on its boxes, and website it is “the best” sunglass manufacturer “in the industry.”
According to the complaint brought forth on behalf of consumer Brendan C. Haney, the following statement is printed on every box of Costa glasses :“[I]f our sunglasses are damaged by accident, normal wear and tear, or misuse, we replace scratched lenses, frames, and other parts for a nominal fee.” In practice, however, customers are charged substantial fees for repair, the suit alleges. Such fees range from $89.00 for replacement glass lenses, $69.00 for plastic lenses, and $49.00 for frames. Consumers are also charged shipping and handling fees.
The complaint also states that Costa is aware of its “significantly higher failure rate,” but has done little in terms of making the product more durable during production. Nor do they warn consumers of this information. The plaintiffs are disputing Costa advertising which says the products are backed by what the company calls a “rock solid” warranty. For this warranty, consumers pay an insurance premium that goes to fund the company’s repair center, which has “profited enormously from its falsely-marketed products and its carefully-orchestrated label and image,” according to case filings..
Filed in Florida, the lawsuit claims Costa’s warranty is a gimmick and that charging the $11.95 plus tax premium is “illegal” and does not entitle consumers to sunglasses that are repaired or replaced free of charge as required by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA). The lawsuit states, “Congress passed the MMWA specifically to curb false and deceptive warranty practices, like those warranty practices employed by [the defendant]” and that “as a consequence of Costa’s illegal practices, [the plaintiff] and the class members have purchased Costa sunglasses under the false impression that their sunglasses are protected for life against manufacturer’s defects at no charge to them.”
This isn’t the first class action suit brought against Costa Del Mar. In fact, the company has been engaged in litigation for the last several years. All suits are brought forth by US citizens who, bought the Costa sunglasses backed by a “Lifetime Warranty” prior to the company’s switch to a “Limited Lifetime Warranty.” all complaints were filed during the applicable limitations period and paid Costa fees above and beyond their initial premium to repair or replace defective.
These complaints alleges that product boxes are labeled, “backed by our lifetime warranty” in capital letters. They complaint also says packaging reads, “[W]e stand behind our craftsmanship with a rock solid Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer’s defects.” Furthermore, “If a pair of Costas needs to be fixed, they get sent back to the shop where they were made and the Costa Repair Shop experts will bring them back to ‘like new’ standards.”
Texas plaintiff Brian H. Burden purchased a pair of Costa Brine sunglasses in September 2015, retailing for $179.96. Like Haney’s, Burden’s suit alleges the following statement was prominently featured on the back of the product packaging: “If our sunglasses are damaged by accident, normal wear and tear, or misuse, we replace scratched lenses, frames and other parts for a nominal fee.”
Later in 2016, Burden’s Costa sunglasses broke due to normal wear and tear so he sent them in for repairs. Burden’s suit charges,“Instead of charging a nominal fee, Costa charged [Burden] $63.39 for repair, including a diagnostic fee, not including shipping.” Further, “Costa charged [Burden] nearly 40 percent of the cost of a brand new pair of sunglasses, far more than a nominal fee.” “Costa’s claim that it will repair damaged sunglasses ‘for a nominal fee’ is false and deceptive, designed to lure consumers into paying a premium for a warranty against damage due to accident, normal wear and tear, or misuse, only for consumers to later discover the bait-and-switch.”
The petition goes on to read,“Unfortunately, Costa’s ‘no gimmicks’ warranty is just that–a gimmick–designed to trick customers and maximize revenues for Costa’s repair center at the expense of Costa’s customers.” Burden is seeking more than $1 million in damages as are similar suits filed in Texas. Burden’s attorneys, Charles T. Jeremiah, a partner in the Houston office of Holland & Knight, have filed a parallel lawsuit against Costa in Florida.
Another plaintiff, Troy Smith, brought forth a lawsuit against Costa del Mar claiming that he was charged for repairs to a product that came with a premium free lifetime warranty. Smith states he bought a pair of Costa Fisch sunglasses which he believed to be backed by the lifetime warranty, as stated on the package. According to Smith’s complaint, in September 2015, he sent the sunglasses to Costa where they were inspected. The warranty center determined that the nose piece needed replacement, that the lenses were in need of relamintion and that the company accepted the responsibility that the issues were caused by a company manufacturing defect, which falls under the warranty.
However, Smith claims his sunglasses weren’t repaired for free. Instead, the complaint says, Smith was charged $11.95 plus tax and was informed that Costa charges all customers who make a claim under the warranty this fee.
Smith’s claim also points to fraud under the MMWA stating, “requires warrantors like Costa advertising full lifetime warranties to remedy consumer products ‘without charge.’” Thus requesting restitution for all customers forced to pay for use of the warranty.
A full copy of the Costa Del Mar Lawsuit is below:
Costa del Mar isn’t only having issues with consumers. Some retailers are also dropping their line of products due to customer complaints they feel harms their brand. Others, like ADS Sports Eyewear say that the company handicaps American retailers by giving preference to Essilor International, a large French conglomerate, who owns their prescription lens designs.
ADS filed an antitrust complaint in 2013 with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stating Costa gives Frames Direct almost exclusive rights to sell their prescription sunglasses in the online market. The outcome of the FTC investigation is unknown, but ADS no longer carries Costa del Mar eyewear.
Editor’s note on the Costa Del Mar Lawsuit:
This piece is written about the recently filed Costa Del Mar Class Action Lawsuit. For more information, please shoot us an email to Outreach@ConsiderTheConsumer.com, find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or even connect with us directly on our website! We look forward to hearing from all of you.
About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, and co-host and producer of “All Our Own” radio show and podcast and co-host of “Staggers State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been featured on MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!
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