State claims monument company owners failed to deliver goods

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 12:48pm
Staff reports

Two cemetery memorial companies are facing state charges claiming that they failed to deliver promised goods or make refunds to consumers, according to the state Attorney General's Office.

Attorney General Bob Cooper, on behalf of the Division of Consumer Affairs, filed suit Monday against Marcus Donnell Jones and Wayne Monk, the owners of three Nashville memorial companies.

Jones is the owner of Jones Memorials and Half Off Stones and Monk is the owner of Monk Memorials and a former employee of Jones Memorials and Half Off Stones.

The state claims the defendants allegedly offered monuments, headstones, grave markers, memorials, and other cemetery goods, and accepted payments. However, the suit alleges, they failed to produce or deliver the promised cemetery goods and services, and did not refund consumers who had ordered the items.

Among other allegations, Monk is alleged to have falsely told consumers that he was working with the Attorney General’s Office to resolve consumer issues and complaints. To date, consumers have filed 87 complaints against Jones. Monk was involved in seven of those. The state is still trying to determine if there are other consumers who have complaints against the defendants.

The state is seeking to freeze the defendants’ assets, to award the state’s attorneys’ fees and costs in the investigation and to revoke their business licenses or any other certificates authorizing them to engage in the memorial business in Tennessee.

“These complaints come from grieving people who bought these services with the intent of honoring their deceased loved ones,” Cooper said. “By taking these cases to court, we intend to ensure integrity to this market and send the message that taking advantage of people in these circumstances is not acceptable. “

According to the complaint, the Jones Memorials Web site, as of July 24, 2009, allegedly continued to falsely advertise defendants’ business practices. For example, the Web site promotes “accelerated free shipping,” “extreme value,” “fast e-mail and return calls,” and “patient, experienced & friendly staff.” The complaint filed Monday alleges that all of these claims are false and misleading and constitute unfair and deceptive practices under the state’s consumer protection law.

The defendants primarily advertised their products and services to consumers nationwide and in Tennessee through the Internet at www.jonesmemorials.com, www.halfoffstones.com and www.monkmemorials.com. They also used print ads, telephone, e-mail and operated a storefront in Nashville at 3918 Dickerson Pike.

If you have purchased a product from either of these companies or had a problem with the defendants or if you have any other consumer complaint, you may contact the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-342-8385 (toll free inside Tennessee) or (615) 741-4737 or online at www.state.tn.us/consumer.

For more information on this lawsuit, please visit the Tennessee Attorney General Web site at www.attorneygeneral.state.tn.us then click on Office Information and Cases of Interest.