The Michigan Attorney General's Office has sent cease and desist letters to 11 senior living facilities for charging residents $900 COVID-19 fees.
The charge could be in violation of the state's consumer protection laws.
The AG's Office received nearly 40 complaints from senior living facility residents or their families in regards to the fee.
The letters were sent Tuesday to CSIG Holding Co. LLC, which had facilities in Brighton, Petoskey, Plymouth, Oxford, Midland, Grand Ledge, White Lake, Rockford, Chesterfield, and Saline.
The operators have 10 days from receipt of the letter to respond or face a formal investigation and potential legal action.
The operators may also sign an agreement requiring them to cancel and refund the $900 fees to residents, the AG's Office said.
“This pandemic has caused financial strain for many people and businesses in Michigan, but that does not provide companies with the right to impose unauthorized costs on their customers and clients – especially those in our senior communities and others who are already living on a fixed income,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “As Attorney General, I am bound by duty to ensure our laws are enforced, and it as my responsibility to protect our vulnerable populations and all Michigan residents from unlawful actions.”
A senior official with the company told the AG's office the fee was to "partially offset cost increases attributed to the COVID-19 response," the AG's Office said.
The AG's Office alleges the fee implicates the following unfair trade practices:
- Causing a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction;
- Failing to reveal a material fact, the omission of which tends to mislead or deceive the consumer, and which fact could not reasonably be known by the consumer;
- Causing coercion and duress as the result of the time and nature of a sales presentation; and
- Making a representation of fact or statement of fact material to the transaction such that a person reasonably believes the represented or suggested state of affairs to be other than it actually is.