Pittsburgh, PA – June 20, 2012 – The Better Business Bureau of Western PA’s Hot Topics is a monthly alert regarding companies across all industries that are currently targeting Western Pennsylvania consumers. The Hot Topics list and information is also available on the BBB website under the News Center.
According to Warren King, President of the Better Business Bureau, “The BBB’s goal in creating Hot Topics is to help educate and protect the marketplace from businesses targeting local consumers.”
The following report is based on your BBB’s research as of June 20, 2012 and includes information received at our office on companies marketing to local Pennsylvanians. Click on the company name for an updated BBB report. Please take into consideration the importance of the practice and total performance of the company. To access over four million companies nationwide, visit www.bbb.org.
- Adison High School – Online high school diploma program
An F rated company, Adison High School has failed to respond to 61 out of 62 complaints closed with the BBB in the last three years. Students complain the company fails to disclose that diplomas are not recognized by higher learning institutions and are not verifiable by potential employers. Other complainants allege unauthorized credit card charges or that the company fails to deliver the diploma. In 2011, BBB wrote to Adison High School concerning these allegations and the company's indication that diplomas issued are accredited by the International Accreditation Committee of Online Schools. To date, the company has not responded to BBB’s request for more information. Visit www.bbb.org for BBB tips on choosing a reputable online degree program.
- IT Service Plus – Employment scheme
In March 2012, consumers began contacting BBB claiming that this company was offering employment requiring prospective employees to provide bank account information prior to being employed. Upon investigating, BBB believes that the current company offering employment is fraudulently using the address and name of IT Service Plus, a Washington, PA based company that is no longer in service. BBB is unable to verify the location of IT Service Plus, but according to its website domain registry, it is registered out of Russia. BBB has concerns about this company’s offer and is reminding consumers to be cautious about providing personal information to unknown entities. For more tips when seeking employment, visit www.bbb.org.
- Pinnacle Security, LLC – Burglar alarm systems
Based out of Utah, this F rated company has closed 1,173 complaints with the BBB in the last three years and 200 complaints in the last 12 months. Pinnacle Security has also had government action taken against it by various states’ Attorney General’s Offices, including Utah, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Florida and Missouri. Most recently, on April 20, 2012, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office announced a settlement in which Pinnacle Security will provide $46,000 in refunds to customers who were misled about Pinnacle’s relationship with other security companies, the cost of its services or its cancellation policy. The company will also pay $12,500 to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Revolving Fund and $17,500 in civil penalties.
- Silv Communication, Inc. – Long distance telephone company
Due to overall complaint history, including serious complaints, unresolved complaints and failure to respond to complaints, Silv Communication, Inc., based out of California, has an F rating with the BBB. Some complainants allege long distance services are being switched from their local providers without authorization, along with a variety of billing and service related issues. Others allege that this company misrepresents themselves by stating they are affiliated with their local service provider and can lower monthly long distances costs. The company responds to some "phone slamming" complaints by stating they have audio confirmation by a third party verification service. In a few cases, credits or refunds have been issued.
- Sweepstakes Clearinghouse – National mail order company
This F rated national mail order company sends mailings stating that the recipient has been awarded a credit voucher that can be applied towards the purchase of merchandise. Customers pay the balance of the price for the product they choose, plus shipping and handling. Sweepstakes Clearinghouse complainants allege slow delivery of ordered merchandise, non-receipt of refunds, poor product quality and unsatisfactory customer service. The company has resolved some complaints by offering refunds, making deliveries or explaining its policies. During a 2009 Advertising Review, BBB concluded that the company failed to provide adequate substantiation materials regarding product comparisons that inflated the reference prices of a product.
- Universal Timeshare Sales Associates – Timeshare resale and rental marketing
Having received a pattern of complaints from consumers alleging failure to honor a contract or agreement, Universal Timeshare Sales Associates has an F rating with the BBB and has closed 69 complaints in the last 12 months. Customers claim the company contacts them offering to buy their timeshare and says there is a buyer in the office ready to buy it. Customers send the requested $1,798 to cover a processing fee, transfer and title search, and do not hear from the company or get their money back. Universal Timeshare Sales Associates is not accredited with the BBB, but advises consumers to view its “BBB license number” in sales presentations, despite signing an agreement to remove this statement from all advertising. Visit www.bbb.org for tips on selling a timeshare.
About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 116 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.