The state of Washington is suing the parent company of Value Village claiming it misled customers into thinking the stores are non-profit.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a 37-page complaint alleging Bellevue-based TVI, Inc. deceived thousands of Washington consumers and donors "for more than a decade."
The company runs 20 stores in Washington state and 330 worldwide generating more than $1 billion in revenue annually.
The complain alleges TVI engages in widespread deceptive marketing campaigns leading customers and donors to believe their purchases and donation benefited charity. In a news release, the AG's office claims, "In fact, no portion of Value Village in-store sales benefits its charity partners, and contrary to Value Villages marketing, for years, some types of donations - including furniture and housewares - did not benefit charities at all."
"If a for-profit company asked you to donate your couch so it could donate zero dollars to charity, you might think twice and decide to donate your couch to an actual charitable organization," Ferguson said. "Value Village made millions by deceiving consumers and donors."
A spokesperson from TVI, Inc. tells KING 5 the company just received the lawsuit and is reviewing it. Sara Gaugl said the company believes the suit is "misguided" and company complies with "all relevant Washington state laws.
Gaugl goes on to say that last year TVI paid nearly $13 million to its non-profit partners.
"For 50 years, Value Village has proudly operated as a Washington state-based company that has turned goods donated to charitable organizations into funds that support their missions. Last year alone, we paid nearly $13 million to our nonprofit partners in Washington state, and more than $120 million during the last 10 years, enabling them to provide valuable community services.
We are aware of the Complaint from the Office of the Washington State Attorney General and are reviewing its details. For the last several years, we have addressed questions from the Attorney General’s Office and continue to believe their actions are misguided. We are fully compliant with all relevant Washington state laws and are confident this matter will be resolved in our favor. It’s unfortunate the Attorney General’s Office has continued down this path despite all facts to the contrary.
On December 11, in anticipation of today’s actions, we filed a Federal Complaint against the Washington State Attorney General in response to its unlawful demands that threaten to undermine our ability to support our Washington state charitable partners. We stand by the position and facts established in our Complaint and are proud of our business and the positive impact we make across the state. We have always held ourselves to high standards of transparency, integrity and accountability with our nonprofit partners, their donors and our customers.
We will continue to devote our full energy to supporting communities and serving the best interests of our nonprofit partners and their donors."
The suit alleges Value Village violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act.