(a) Every discount buying club shall obtain and maintain a bond from a surety company licensed to do business in North Carolina. Such bond shall be in an amount not less than one hundred times the one-time or annual membership fee, or fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), whichever is greater.
(b) Every discount buying club shall hold advance payments for goods and services in trust in a separate account used solely for that purpose. The funds in such account shall be held free from all liens. Records of such account shall be kept by the buying club in the regular course of its business sufficient to identify the amount held for each customer, the dates of the receipt and withdrawal of funds, and the purpose of withdrawal. Such records must be retained for a period not less than four years following withdrawal. Funds may not be withdrawn from the trust account unless and until (i) the ordered goods have been actually delivered to the customer or consigned to a certified public carrier, or (ii) ordered services have been provided in full, or (iii) the buying club has refunded the customer's payment. Provided, the discount buying club shall not be required to comply with the foregoing trust account requirements if the discount buying club meets the requirements of G.S. 66-132(b), bills its customers through a credit card account and obtains and maintains an additional bond in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) from a surety company licensed to do business in North Carolina.
(c) Any person who is damaged by any violation of this Article, or by any breach by the discount buying club of its contract, may bring an action against the bond, provided that the aggregate liability of the surety shall not exceed the amount of the bond.
(d) Violations of subsections (a) or (b) of this section shall constitute a Class I felony. (1981, c. 594, s. 1; 1989, c. 495, ss. 2, 3; 1993, c. 539, s. 1282; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)