TACOMA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that national jewelry outlet Harris Jewelers will provide more than $1.5 million in debt relief and refunds to more than 1,000 Washington service members. The company preyed specifically on active-duty military members and induced them into signing contracts that Ferguson asserted were violations of the federal Military Lending Act and the state Consumer Protection Act.
Harris Jewelers closed all of its stores, including a store in the Tacoma Mall it operated for only a few years, and now only offers service for purchased products online. It had stores in 17 states, all of which were near military bases, and its company motto was “Serving Those Who Serve.”
“Harris Jewelers provided a disservice to those who served,” Ferguson said. “I am proud of my office’s proven track record of shutting down businesses and charities who prey on military service members. Our work to protect military personnel in Washington state does not stop here.”
Today’s announcement is part of a multistate resolution. To avoid a trial in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Harris Jewelers will stop collecting on $21.3 million worth of contracts nationwide and will refund more than $12.8 million to tens of thousands of servicemembers across the country who purchased Harris’ extended warranties, also known as “Jewelry and Watch Protection Programs.”
Under the terms of the judgment, Harris Jewelers’ will stop collecting on $911,525 worth of debt for 547 Washington service members who made purchases from the company’s stores, which averages to approximately $1,666 per customer. Under a separate claims process, $597,925 will be split among 1,804 individuals who are eligible for refunds depending on which warranties they purchased.
The Attorney General’s Office and Harris Jewelers will notify service members who made purchases through its Jewelry and Watch Protection Program of their eligibility for refunds. Harris Jewelers will email all service members who will receive debt relief. Some service members will receive both debt relief and a refund for the additional service fees, depending on what programs they used with Harris Jewelers.
Moreover, the company must pay $50,000 to Washington state, which the Attorney General’s Office will split between four Armed Services relief organizations that assist active-duty service members serving in Washington. These organizations provide zero interest loans to service members who need financial assistance. This is how the Attorney General’s Office will split that money among those organizations, which reflects in part, each service’s respective active duty population in Washington:
- Army Emergency Relief — $23,000
- Navy & Marine Corps Relief Society — $15,000
- Air Force Aid Society — $11,000
- Coast Guard Foundation — $1,000
Harris Jewelers also faces a suspended $24 million civil penalty based on its compliance with legally mandated changes to its business practices.