September 1, 2020
LANSING – The Michigan Department of Attorney General has received court approval for civil subpoenas to launch an investigation into a Traverse City business making 3D-printed facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic, but allegedly failing to fill customer orders and misrepresenting its products, among other alleged violations of Michigan’s consumer protection laws.
Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office obtained a court order from the Grand Traverse County 13th Circuit Court on July 30, 2020, authorizing its investigation into DreamLab Industries LLC.
Last week, the Attorney General confirmed the successful service of investigative subpoenas upon the company. The Attorney General’s office alleges DreamLab engaged in, and continues to engage in, violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) by misrepresenting its product as having approval or sponsorship that it doesn’t actually have, false advertising, making false or misleading statements for price reductions, failing to provide goods to customers at all or in a timely fashion, price-gouging and others.
The subpoenas allow the Attorney General to secure DreamLab’s records, including sales and financial records, customer correspondence, supply and shipping details, advertising records, employee testimony and other information.
“Michigan consumers who pay a fair price for a product, should expect to receive that product in exchange,” Nessel said. “My office won’t stand for deceptive business practices that mislead customers into paying for inferior products, or paying for products that never arrive. Michigan’s consumer protection laws provide avenues for my office to investigate and sue wrongdoers to protect consumers from bad actors, and we intend to use those tools whenever practical to ensure bad actors are held accountable.”
Multiple complaints about DreamLab have been received by the Attorney General’s office, the Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Recent media coverage of DreamLab’s internet crowdfunding page – where the company was soliciting donations from the public, allegedly for the purchase of additional 3D printers to allow DreamLab to keep up with demand – ultimately resulted in an influx of orders for the 3D-printed masks. DreamLab’s alleged inability to fill those orders, its provision of defective products and its other deceptive business practices led to the filing of multiple consumer complaints.
Customers who called the company to complain about not receiving their orders reported being told various excuses from the customer service representative, including the printers were down, the company was waiting for materials and the products were in the mail waiting to be picked up, but no one had retrieved them.
The customer service representative admitted in an interview with investigators to being directed by management to provide customers with various excuses as to why their orders had not been received.
Several customers received orders months after they were placed, with some of the 3D-printed facemasks being split down the middle and unusable when they were received.
The company’s website claims that DreamLab has been contacted by various governmental agencies that were seeking orders. In fact, DreamLab CEO Brandon Williams later admitted in an interview with investigators that the contact was actually to see if the company had emergency authorization to create the facemasks, which it did not.