Pittsburgh, PA – February 4, 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 February 4, 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. Budget Me Today – Consumer finance loan company
An F rated company, Budget Me Today received its 62 complaints with BBB beginning August 14, 2012. BBB has received a pattern of serious complaints from consumers alleging that the business made unauthorized charges of $34.95 on their bank accounts, after having applied on the internet for a loan. Many complainants claim to have never heard of the business prior to money being taken out of their accounts. In December 2012, BBB contacted the company to request information as to why it believes consumers are filing these complaints and what actions are being taken to help eliminate the causes of them. BBB is currently waiting for the company’s reply.
2. Great American Readers – Magazine telemarketing services
Great American Readers has had 648 complaints filed with BBB in the last three years. Complaints allege that consumers are contacted by the company via phone and told they won a $1,000 shopping spree if they order magazines. Consumers state they are told they can cancel anytime, but when they try to cancel are told they cannot or are unable to speak with anyone. Consumers also allege that merchandise shipping costs are more than the merchandise is worth or that the merchandise is not what was promised. The company has responded to most complaints by cancelling contracts or by sending magazines for the amount already paid by the consumers. While the company has resolved most complaints, it has not eliminated the underlying cause. Check out BBB’s tips regarding magazine sales.
3. LoanTree Advances – Payday loans
Having received 137 BBB complaints since August, 11, 2012, complainants of LoanTree Advances allege being debited $30 in unauthorized charges for online payday loans. According to complainants, they neither applied for any payday loan nor authorized these charges. After contacting the company to remedy the charge, consumers are told that they applied for a payday loan and that they will receive a refund within fifteen business days. Complainants claim that the promised refund fails to materialize. In addition, the address that BBB currently has on file for this company is a mail drop at a mail service office that appears to be shared by multiple payday loan companies. For more information on payday loans, visit www.bbb.org.
4. NoMoreRack.com, Inc. – Internet shopping
448 BBB complaints have been filed against NoMoreRack.com, Inc. since August 29, 2012. Consumers claim that they are not receiving merchandise purchased through NoMoreRack.com by the estimated delivery date. In addition, consumers are not being alerted to revised shipping dates and must make repeated inquiries to the company’s customer service department. NoMoreRack.com has responded to BBB’s inquiry about their complaint patterns and the business has experienced supplier logistical issues, which delayed merchandise shipment. The business is working to strengthen its supply chain and has increased customer service representatives to resolve concerns. See how you can protect yourself when internet shopping.
5. Online Local Yellowpages – Directory advertising
Based out of New York, all 275 complaints filed with BBB against Online Local Yellowpages were received from November 6, 2012 until now. Consumer complaints to BBB allege that representatives of the company have been contacting local businesses and organizations regarding payment for advertising space in Online Local Yellowpages. Businesses that had previously declined or never agreed to purchase the services are receiving billed invoices with interest charges and in some cases, collection notices. Complainants are being told that they had entered into a verbal contract with Online Local Yellowpages and are liable for the payments. Read BBB’s tips on bogus billing schemes.
6. Vertrue, Inc. – Discount membership programs
Of Vertrue, Inc.’s 1,838 complaints closed with BBB in the last three years, 241 were closed in the last twelve months. Complaints primarily involve claims of unauthorized charges by the company’s affiliates. The company has responded to all complaints by offering a full unconditional refund for such unauthorized charges, while also denying that any of its charges were not authorized by the customers. On February 23, 2012, New York Attorney General Schneiderman announced a settlement with Vertrue Inc. and its subsidiary, Adaptive Marketing, LLC to provide $2 million in refunds to New York consumers who were tricked into enrolling online in Adaptive’s discount club programs and then charged hidden fees. Similarly, in 2011, a Polk County Judge ordered Vertrue, Inc. to pay more than $30 million after ruling the company violated Iowa’s buying club law. Vertrue, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2012.
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.