A girl who had saved up her money to buy a “Disney Princess” jewelry making kit opened it to find it less than half full.
The girl’s mother filed a complaint against the toymaker with the San Diego City Attorney’s Office.
On Thursday, officials announced a penalty of $225,000 against the distributor of the craft kits that used Disney characters on the packaging.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith described the toy packaging as a classic case of “bait and switch."
There were 16,484 packages delivered to California and sold at Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us for $13 each.
The toy gives children the chance to create bracelets and necklaces with colored string and beads. Some of the beads have images of Disney princesses.
The package was sealed and designed to look like a full case of beads.
Once the kit was opened however, the buyer soon realized the only beads in the kit were the ones that could be seen through the small window in the packaging.
The New Jersey company, Horizon Group USA, cooperated with prosecutors and agreed to pay the penalties without admitting wrongdoing.
Now the company is under a court injunction prohibiting them from offering items for sale in California marked under the Walt Disney Company brand in such packaging.
“I know there are tough times in the business world and profits need to be increased but not in expense of misrepresenting a product to kids,” said Goldsmith.
Officials with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office said the ruling should be a reminder to businesses that they work with the City Attorney’s office on consumer fraud violations.
“We are watching. We are looking at what you’re producing and how you’re selling it,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “You need to be fair to our consumers.”
The City Attorney’s office has a consumer hotline available to residents to report any violations 619-533-5600.
Ed. Note: This article has been revised. The original article included a quote using an inappropriate slur.