BBB: GR teen running earbud sales prompting AG probe

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Attorney General’s Office is investigating two Grand Rapids-based businesses accused of failing to refund customers for earbuds that arrive broken, if at all.

Blvck Pods, LLC and BlvckedPods, LLC sell something you may have seen advertised on Instagram or Facebook: black earbuds that look like Apple’s AirPods.

Customers have filed 50 complaints about the companies with the Better Business Bureau. Buyers say they never received their order or it arrived months after ordering. The attorney general’s office says some sets of earbuds arrived inoperable.

The BBB tried to track down the company at its listed address in the 600 block of Livingston Avenue NE, but hit a dead end. The BBB then found another address connected to the business in the 500 block of Fairview NE on Belknap Lookout.

“The gentleman that owns that home has not responded to the Better Business Bureau, but through some other outreach we’ve learned that he had done the corporate registrations on behalf of his son. His teenage son is really running the company,” said Troy Baker with the BBB Serving Western Michigan.

The attorney general’s office calls it a case of drop shipping—a scheme that’s expected to worsen during the holiday season. The attorney general’s office says the Grand Rapids-based company takes orders from customers who believe they’re getting a Grand Rapids-made product, but the business taps a Chinese company to fulfill the orders.

While drop shipping isn’t illegal in Michigan, the attorney general’s office says it causes problems and raises concerns under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

It’s believed a Grand Rapids teenager is behind both companies.

“Most of these purchases are somewhere around $50 to $55 a piece, which is significantly cheaper than the regular AirPods, so it seems like a great deal. These are advertised on Facebook and Instagram social media, so a lot of younger people are seeing these ads,” said Baker.

Baker says some red flags that the business is not reputable include the unusual spelling of the company’s name and the deep discount on what it’s selling.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says her office delivered investigative subpoenas to the companies’ owners Thursday morning.