Q: Could I take an out-of-state online business to small claims court?
This last May, I won $500 in free airfare credit from a vaping website I use, named Breazy. I was told I would have my prize “no later than the 30th” of the month (so May 30th). It’s now almost mid October and still no prize. I’ve emailed and called many times. Filed a BBB complaint that was ignored by Breazy. I’ve been told everything from “we needed to confirm your email address” to “we’ll have it to you by the end of the week” to “we’re a small company and don’t have the money for it”. I was planning on using this airfare to take my wife on vacation for our anniversary this month. I requested off for a week because of it. Now we can’t go, and now I’m out a vacation and time at work. What can I do?
A: I'm sorry to hear that Breazy won't keep its word. Filing suit in small claims court against an out-of-state company like Breazy won't do you much good for reasons that would take too long to explain in a short answer, but deal with your ability to collect the judgment if you get one. I suggest you contact an attorney with experience filing cases under Missouri's consumer protection statute, the Merchandising Practices Act (MPA). https://law.justia.com/codes/missouri/2011/titlexxvi/chapter407/section407025/
The MPA is great for consumers who've been wronged, because it allows you to seek not only actual damages but in some circumstances punitive damages (which may be many time more than the actual damages), and the court may also award you attorneys' fees if you prevail. For that reason, many attorneys who file MPA cases will do so on a contingency basis. You need an attorney who not only knows how to get a judgment but also to collect it. Contact a local attorney with experience in these areas of law.
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