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TMCNet:  State Consumer Protection Orders 'Fireplace Doctor' To Halt Doing Business, Pay Restitution

[January 04, 2013]

State Consumer Protection Orders 'Fireplace Doctor' To Halt Doing Business, Pay Restitution

Jan 04, 2013 (The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The doctor is out.

Out of Connecticut, anyway.

A chimney cleaning businessman doing business as "The Fireplace Doctor" was told to cease-and-desist doing business in the state by the Connecticut Commissioner of Consumer Protection, William M. Rubenstein. The order was issued on Dec. 27.

Since April 2012, James Dean Joyner of Milton, Fla., had offered chimney cleaning services as The Fireplace Doctor, and more than 1,400 Groupon vouchers were sold to Connecticut consumers last year for his chimney cleaning, according to state officials. Joyner sold services through http://www.fireplacedoctor.net, http://www.fireplacedoctorstore.com and http://www.groupon.com.

The Department of Consumer Protection claims that The Fireplace Doctor does not have proper credentials. Chimney repair specialists typically have professional training and certification and are members of professional associations. The Fireplace Doctor was not a member of such an association, according to the Department of Consumer Protection.

In 2009, the Chimney Safety Institute of America demanded Joyner refrain from falsely using the group's trademarks in advertising, and it won a permanent injunction against Joyner, according to state consumer protection officials.

"This resolution not only offers reimbursement to a number of homeowners for services that were unfairly sold to them, but reminds everyone, including homeowners and contractors, that chimney repair work is not to be taken lightly -- it must be done correctly in order to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning in homes," Rubenstein said. "We want only properly credentialed individuals doing this work, which has numerous important health and safety implications." Joyner agreed to cease doing business in Connecticut and will provide full restitution to any Connecticut consumers who request a refund for services before Dec. 27, when the state's order was issued. This does not include customers previously refunded through Groupon. Consumers seeking a refund should file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection with a copy of a receipt or invoice from The Fireplace Doctor.

The Consumer Protection department recommends the following to consumers who want to get a chimney cleaned or repaired: Check to see if the company is registered with the Department of Consumer Protection at: https://www.elicense.ct.gov.

Beware of scare tactics -- you can always shut a unit off and not use it until you get a second opinion.

If the repair person shows you photographs of damage, verify that it is actually your chimney by asking him to also provide you with a photo taken from a wider angle.

All chimney liner and wood stove installations require a permit from your town -- as such, it is incredibly rare for a same-day installation of a liner or wood stove.

Ask for a copy of the company's insurance certificate.

Educate yourself before the service person arrives, and let family members know that you are having an inspection or repair done.

___ (c)2013 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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