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Jos. A. Bank subpoenaed by Ohio attorney general

By Sarah Skidmore Sell
AP Business Writer

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. disclosed Thursday that Ohio’s attorney general is looking into some of its advertising and marketing practices.

The retailer said in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it received a subpoena this month, but has not yet dealt directly with the attorney general’s office about the matter.

Jos. A. Bank’s General Counsel Chuck Frazer said that the company could not discuss ongoing legal matters. Kate Hanson, a representative for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, said the office could not comment under state law.

The investigation comes after Jos. A. Bank has faced two lawsuits in Ohio alleging deceptive sales and marketing practices for its use of the words “free” and “regular price.” Both cases were filed by the same law firm, one in May and another in July, on behalf of different clients.

The complaints argue that the retailer’s “buy one get one free” promotions and other offers are deceptive because they are based on the purchase of an item at regular price. But the “regular price” is a fabrication, because most purchases are made with some sale or discount. The complaints say this practice is deceptive and illegal.

Jos A. Bank, which is based in Hampstead, Md., said in its regulatory filing Thursday that it plans to defend itself vigorously in the most recent case. The first was voluntarily dismissed in July.

The company was also subpoenaed by the Florida Attorney General last year regarding its advertising and sales promotion practices but the office has since recommended the case be closed.

Shares of Jos A. Bank slipped 43 cents to close at $56.46, in line with broader market movement.


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