Be Warned: BBB issues alert about "public offer" for computers advertised locally

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(WOIO) - The 84-year-old Cleveland woman thought she had found a good deal on a laptop computer. The advertisement from Top Ten Imports claimed that its EZ Book computer was "Great for students, grandparents, and small businesses." Hoping to find an affordable computer to help fill up her days, the Cleveland consumer ordered one at a cost of $179.

When the computer arrived, she was surprised at its size. It measured 8 ¾" x 5 ½". At that size, the viewing area was so small she wasn't able to see the graphics and text well enough to be able to use the product. "I thought I was buying a laptop computer," she told BBB. "When I tried to return it, the company said they did not give refunds."

EZ Book is sold by Top Ten Imports, an Indiana company. Top Ten Imports' advertisements claim their computer is available thanks to a " national program (that) makes computers affordable". Advertisements also state quantities are "extremely limited." Its most recent promotion claims, "Lines close in 48 hours. Don't wait to call."

In May, 2010, BBB contacted Top Ten Imports about their advertisements for EZ Book - specifically the statement that the products "…can sell for up to $600 in stores.." as well as the claim that quantities are limited. The company did not respond.

Top Ten Imports has a BBB rating of "F" due primarily to the 122 consumer complaints on file, most of which concern refund disputes, and issues with the company's advertising practices.

Prior to selling the EZ Book, Top Ten Imports sold the iHeater. Consumers complained to BBB when the heater did not live up to advertised claims that it would heat up to 1500 square feet and save energy costs. Purchasers reported the $400 product barely heated one room and actually increased their electric bills.

EZ Book purchasers have complained to BBB that the product does not function as advertised. Consumers also complained they felt the advertisements were misleading because the company's policy of no refunds and the actual size of the computer were not disclosed.

Consumers should also be aware that the EZ Book uses a Windows CE operating system. Windows CE is a specialized operating system for minimalistic computer such as hand-held devices. Don't expect it to have the same capabilities as a laptop or other computer.

BBB advises consumers to:

  • Carefully research the purchase of electronics. Promotions that emphasize limited quantities and "now or never" opportunities to buy can result in impulse purchases that may not live up to expectations.
  • Get refund and exchange policies in writing. Some returns may cost you a restocking fee which could be 10% or more of the purchase price.
  • When buying products sight unseen, ask about the products size and features.
  • Check the company's BBB rating at or by phone at (216) 241-7678.

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