Pittsburgh, PA – May 2, 2013 – 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 May 2, 2013 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.
1. Caribbean Cruise Line – Vacation certificates
Caribbean Cruise Line’s BBB file contains a pattern of complaints from consumers who were contacted by the company and told they won a free three day, two night cruise to the Bahamas. The only fees mentioned are $59 per person port fees. Some consumers state they are not told of additional fees or that they must attend a two hour timeshare presentation which is reported to be very high pressure. Some consumers also allege difficulty obtaining refunds that are mentioned during the sales presentation. The company responds to BBB complaints by issuing a full or partial refund. BBB urges consumers who choose to do business with this company to read and understand all aspects of the agreement and obtain all verbal promises in writing. Visit www.bbb.org for more helpful tips on vacation offers.
2. Global International – Foreign lottery scam
Consumers report to BBB that Global International representatives call and state they have won a lottery and/or prize valued from $25,000 to $8.5 million. In order to collect winnings, consumers are instructed to wire $175-$499 to pay for administrative fees and insurance. Those who pay the money never receive the prize and if the offer is declined, consumers report receiving harassing phone calls. The company lists a conflicting street address and zip code, while phone numbers originate from Jamaica. BBB reminds consumers that it is illegal for a company to offer a foreign lottery in the United States and it is illegal to participate in one. Check out BBB tips on identifying foreign lotteries.
3. Advanced fee loan schemes targeting Western PA consumers
BBB has identified through consumer complaints and investigations that Pittsburgh Infinity Financial Trust, Keystone Lending Group, Dowell Financial Solutions, Payday Loans of America and Merrick Capital Lending are targeting consumers and alleging to be located in the Western PA region. All of these companies have an F rating through BBB and are offering loans for an advanced fee. Consumers state that they have responded to advertisements from the companies on the internet for loans. After paying several hundred dollars, consumers report that they never receive the promised loan. BBB has confirmed that these businesses are not registered with the PA Department of State or PA Department of Banking. View BBB’s information regarding advanced fee loans
4. Universal Adcom – Specialty marketing company
Universal Adcom has received 371 BBB complaints in the last three years. Of these complaints, which were filed by businesses, 307 were resolved through BBB. This company also had past government action taken against it by different states’ Attorney Generals. Complaints have been filed against various alternate business names and allege the company billed for orders not placed; misrepresented its affiliation with a school, chamber of commerce or other civic organizations; harassing and deceptive sales calls, non-receipt of product and poor quality product; and refusal to remove from calling lists. In July 2010, Universal Adcom met with BBB to discuss their pattern and volume of complaints. To date, the company has not eliminated the underlying causes of customer complaints. Visit www.bbb.org to review schemes against businesses.
5. Universal Syndications, Inc. – Currency and coin collectibles
An F rated company with an alternate business name of World Reserve Monetary Exchange, Universal Syndications, Inc. has received 68 BBB complaints in the last 12 months. The majority of complaints allege problems with the product/service, delivery issues and advertising/sales issues. The company has been the subject of various BBB advertising challenges regarding ads that appeared in newspapers across the country. Once contacted by BBB, the company has responded to, modified or discontinued any BBB advertising concerns brought to its attention. BBB files still indicate that the business has failed to resolve the underlying cause of a pattern of complaints though. BBB wants consumers to be aware that while the company obtains products from the Department of Printing and Engraving, it is not a government agency, nor does it have any government affiliation. Read BBB’s information pertaining to coin collection.
6. WN Positions – Work-at-home scheme
Beginning in March 2013, BBB has been advised by consumers who have filed complaints on WN Positions that it is a work-at-home scheme. Consumers allege receiving unwanted calls to their cell phones during work hours regarding an online survey and home job opportunity. When consumers request to have their numbers removed from the company’s calling list, they continue to receive calls. When consumers ask to speak to a supervisor, the callers hang up. BBB is uncertain where these calls originate, but there is some indication calls are routed through Central Florida from the Philippines. Consumers with complaints against this company are also encouraged to notify the PA Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission. Find information and tips on work-at-home schemes by clicking on the link.
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 and Charity Reviews and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB offers dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 115 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Visit www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.