State authorities have changed the locks at Red Carpet Pageant & Prom in Wayne, impounded all merchandise and records, and is looking to return prom dresses to buyers who can provide the necessary documentation.
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs already returned one dress to a consumer who provided proof of purchase after a Superior Court judge ordered a temporary freeze of the defendants’ assets and authorized the Division and a temporary receiver to impound the store’s merchandise.
“A prom is a significant event in a teenager’s life, and one for which many consumers deposit significant amounts of money for the perfect dress,” state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “We will not tolerate businesses that make false promises to consumers, then fail to provide the goods or services consumers have paid for.”
The Division of Consumer Affairs filed suit on June 5 against Red Carpet and its manager, Patricia A. Dowling, of Deptford, and her husband, Michael J. Dowling, after the store closed its doors and ceased business operations in the midst of prom season – leaving many young women without their prom dresses or a refund, after they paid in full or in part for the dresses.
The agency “is working to help the affected consumers reclaim garments they paid for, with the hope to get them their dresses in time for the prom,” Acting DCA Director Eric T. Kanefsky said. “We urge consumers to gather up any and all documentation that can prove they purchased a specific dress, and to contact us immediately.”
State authorities have accused Red Carpet and its owners of violating New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by engaging in unconscionable commercial practices, false promises, misrepresentation, and/or deception.
“The defendants allegedly took payment for special-order dresses that were to be provided at a later date, and then failed to provide the garments; and failed to provide refunds to consumers who did not receive their garments,” the DCA said. “On at least one occasion, the defendants allegedly took a consumer’s deposit and told him his order for a tuxedo would be placed with a supplier – but then failed to place the order.”
At least 16 consumers paid $5,400 in all for dresses that have not been provided, state authorities said today.
As late as the first week of May, Red Carpet contacted consumers and told them their dresses were ready for pickup, they said, but when consumers arrived, the place was closed and no one was around.
State authorities have asked a judge for a permanent freeze of the defendants’ assets, full restitution for affected consumers, as well as the imposition of civil penalties, costs, and fees.
Consumers who are seeking garments or a refund from Red Carpet can contact the Division at: (973) 504-6321.