A Cobb County man and his company, accused of ripping off clients and disparaging customers who complained about his heating and air conditioning firm, have been slapped with a $1.3 million judgment, state Attorney General Sam Olens’ office said this week.
The judge also ordered Monty G. White Jr. to shut down his company, Mechanic’s Heating & Air Conditioning LLC and pull down content from some 62 websites he allegedly used to harass customers. (The release states the name as Mechanics Heating & Air Conditioning LLC, but the company’s business license includes an apostrophe in the name.)
The AG’s office accused White of posting false favorable consumer web reviews and ordering his employees to inflate customers’ bills and charge for unneeded services and repairs, according to a state news release. All told, White and Mechanic’s were accused of some 263 violations of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act.
Attempts to reach White by phone were not immediately successful.
The judge’s order was entered Sept. 8 in Cobb County Superior Court.
White was accused of retaliating by creating “attack” websites to harass and intimidate customers who complained to consumer groups or to regulators, the release said. The websites reportedly included customers’ addresses and degrading comments.
White and his business practices have been the subject of television news investigations by stations, including Fox 5 Atlanta and CBS 46. White’s smear campaigns extended to the reporters that investigated his practices, including Fox 5 investigative reporter Randy Travis and former CBS Atlanta investigative reporter Wendy Saltzman, who is now in Philadelphia.
One website was called “DirtyCustomer.com,” the release said. That site appears to have been disabled, though cached versions show posts disparaging consumers and Atlanta journalists. A byline of “Monty G. White Jr. — Investigative Reporter” is listed in cached versions of web posts.
“Deliberately dishonest, deceptive and intimidating tactics such as these hurt consumers and steer business away from legitimate companies. Our office will do whatever it can to protect consumers from activities like these,” Olens said in the release.
The defendants also were ordered to permanently stop doing business in Georgia’s heating and air industry and hand over business and trade licenses, the release said.