KINGMAN – The Arizona Attorney General’s office has filed a complaint against Malow’s Jet Ski Rentals in Bullhead City after receiving numerous complaints of consumer fraud and deceptive advertising, a spokesman for the AG said Friday.
“Defendants charged consumers far more than the price their advertisements disclosed,” states the complaint filed June 19 in Superior Court in Maricopa County.
The business, owned by Mahriar Akbari, advertises “$65 All Day” and “$75 All Day” jet ski rentals at multiple locations, including the wall of a building next to a gas station, sidewalk signs outside the business at 1080 Highway 95 and on Facebook, but doesn’t mention restrictions and additional fees.
The rates are only good a few days a week, excluding weekends and holidays. Renters are hit with a $15 launch and recovery fee, and gasoline charges can be confusing.
During specials, Malow’s would include the price of gasoline in the total rental cost. At times, consumers are charged a flat rate for an unlimited quantity of gasoline. Other times, consumers are charged a per-gallon rate for the amount used during the rental period. Or they might be charged at a per-gallon rate by checking the number of bars measuring consumption on the fuel gauge.
“There’s all sorts of hidden fees that customers don’t know about until they pay the bill,” said Ryan Anderson, director of communications for Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Many people saw cheap prices only to find hidden charges on their credit card.”
Anderson said online business reviews at Yelp and TripAdvisor show either one star or five stars for Malow’s Jet Ski Rentals. The five-star review is probably from a business family member, he said.
He acknowledges that Yelp isn’t the “end-all, cure-all” for business reviews, but there seems to be a pattern.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Malow’s has a pattern of complaints involving customer billing and collection, and refund and exchange issues. Consumers sign a lengthy waiver prior to renting the jet skis, only to have the company claim damages due to rocks, dents, scratches and bent propellers. Gas charges ranged from $60 to $100.
Until August 2016, the jet ski rental business failed to include specific rental terms in the contract such as an itemized list of charges, specific watercraft rented, rental period, amount of refundable deposit, method of payment of refundable deposit, or any fees for gasoline, launch and recovery of jet skis, or labor to repair damages.
Anderson said some folks don’t know about the AG’s consumer fraud division. Arizona has some of the strongest consumer protection laws in the nation, including up to $10,000 in fines for each violation.
They might write something on Facebook or Yelp, but they won’t take the time to file a complaint.
“It’s $150 or $200. For a lot of people, it’s annoying, it’s frustrating, but it’s not worth their time,” Anderson said.
“What we’re trying to do is we want to hear from consumers. We believe other consumers out there may have been the victim of consumer fraud and we want to hear from them, to have the ability to identify more victims and seek restitution.”
The AG’s office handled 16,000 complaints last year and gave more than $5 million in restitution to consumers, Anderson noted.
“We see a pattern here, so that hammer we have, that $10,000 fine will bring a company to the table to address complaints against them,” he said.
Anyone who has experienced problems with Malow’s Jet Ski Rental is encouraged to contact the AG’s office at email@example.com.