USA Discounters, the Virginia-based retailer that ProPublica reported offers "easy" credit to military members but files thousands of suits when its loans aren't repaid, is criticizing the non-profit news organization's portrayal.
Through its New York-based PR firm LAK PR (the former Linden Alschuler Kaplan), USA Discounters said the ProPublica piece, which also ran in the Washington Post, "inaccurately" portrayed its practices and policies in its dealings with military customers.
ProPublica's Paul Kiel reported July 25 that the retailer has filed more than 13,470 suits since 2006, and highlighted its claims against military members based "anywhere in the world, no matter how much inconvenience or expense they would incur to attend a Virginia court date." The company then garnishes service members' pay after obtaining default legal judgments from two courts in Virginia.
The retailer, which promotes its serivce to "all military and government employees since May 1991," said it is illegal to discuss the cases of individual customers who have defaulted and asked ProPublica to obtain permission from customers for the company to release details, which it said the news organization did not.
In a follow-up piece after USA Discounter's retort, Kiel noted the retailer did not identify any errors in the piece. He said he submitted more than 50 questions to a USAD vice president, who provided a statement that was excerpted in the story.
USAD said it gives consumers the option to have legal matters heard outside of Virginia, but Kiel said USAD's contracts do not state the option, adding that the company did not answer his question when he asked for an example of such a case. The retailer said it goes to court as a last resort
LAK PR senior executive VP Hannah Arnold is advising USAD.