- Report: #380641
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Area Circulation, Media Communications, Universal Buying Club, Magazine Specials Today, Readers Serv
Area Circulation, Media Communications, Universal Buying Club, Magazine Specials Today, Readers Serv5656 Shell Rd Virginia Beach, Virginia U.S.A.
Area Circulation, Media Communications EX employee, With the REAL Scoop Virginia Beach Virginia
I used to work for this company and on a day to day basis customers were advising that they had received phone calls being solicited for magazine services. They were given a small amount to pay on the first call then was transferred to a second and sometimes third person that then gave them an astronomical amount to pay for magazines instead of being billed the small amount in which the customer wouldn't or didn't have a problem with. On the final verification some sales reps talked so fast that the customers could not get a full understanding of what it was they were signing up for. Then customers were advised that they were not in a contract, but the company did request that they fulfill the agreement that was made (which was made under false pretense).
The customers then were sent letters telling them of the actual amounts that they would be billed monthly ranging from 37.50 to 79.50, for magazines and if they want to cancel or change any magazines to contact customer service within 3 days to do so to alleviate any initial entry cost and to contact Stacey Jones, who doesn't exist for assistance. At that point it came to be a matter of retention going through several rebuttals that either got the customer to stay because they really thought they couldn't cancel, and extend the amount of lowered payments, deferring the payments, or if they would continue to push back, the customer would be able to cancel. If customers asked about Stacey then reps were advised to tell the customer that she works in another office. But when and if a call was transferred over to a supervisor if the account was over 35 days old, we would have to do the same (retention) by offering lower payments deferment or telling the customer that we would settle their accounts for half of the remaining balance. In some cases these accounts were $1600.00, who can really pay that. Some of these people have no monthly income and the tapes were verified and processed any way. Some people are too old (being in their 90's and can't fully understand, some people are mentally disabled and after listening to the tapes that were made when the orders were verified they clearly should not have been put through. In other cases, there have been customers that have clearly stated they were not interested and the orders were put through anyway. Customers stated to me that they told the rep they weren't interested and was told by the rep that the order was placed and there is no way to cancel and then they were rudely hung up on. In one situation, a woman said they coaxed her 6 year old son to say he was over 18 to place the order on her credit card.
This company Area Circulation also goes under the names of Media Communications, which this was just added this year for the sake of reducing some of the BBB/Attorney General and anyone else who can be contacted, threats and not only that, the company changed banks that they dealt with and told the employees that we'd better hurry up and cash the checks that were written under that bank account because that account would be closing. It was also stated by one of the Admin representatives that they were dealing with a large amount of missing money that the IRS could not account for. They also have company's under the names of Reader's Services of America, they handle Universal Buying Club, which is offered with the magazine service after the magazine account is verified for $1.00 for 30 days, then customers are charged 95.40/yr. Some customers don't even know they have been billed to a year later and can't receive their money back, because it has been a year, but if it is risk free, it shouldn't matter, give the money back and especially if the person is oblivious to the charge. If a caller comes in through the magazine service asking about Universal Buying Club, we as reps are advised to tell them that they have the wrong # and we don't know what the # is and they should call their bank. They also work with Caller Advantage and Platinum 1 which is another story I will get to in a moment, and Reader's Direct.
As far as Caller Advantage and Platinum 1, these company's were contacting customers setting up services for Magazine Specials Today, offering 5-6 different things stating that they already have the customer's credit card information but the customer just needed to verify it. Most, if not all of the customers I spoke to said they didn't want the service, but the credit card information was billed. There are some people who say they said no to all the additional offeres and then a month later, they see several transactions on their credit cards. Customers were told they would receive a $150.00 gas card. They received a letter in the mail confiming their order as well as a gas voucher that works the same way as the $400.00 gas card/voucher below. For the customers who think this subscription was a good deal, they were told they were getting the $150.00 gas card, but received $50.00 in the mail, which prompted the customers to call in. We were advised to tell the customers that it was an error, we are actually in the process of calling customers to tell them that, and we are sending out the other $100.00 and that will more than cover the cost of the magazines which range from 300.00 to 897.00. Then if the customers want to cancel we have to rebuttal them too. But, there are no recordings for these calls.
There was a gas card being offered through Freebee Gas also in which the amount is $400.00, but the catch is 1st you have to register and send a $5.00 processing fee, you spend $100.00/mo in gas and send them in then you get $25.00 back. Customers have been livid because they are under the impression that they are getting $400.00.
On a renewal account, the customers are advised that the magazines are free but they are helping to pay the cost of shipping them to them in a good condition. In most cases the customer had already paid or was close to paying 897.00 (package prices do vary).
Customers have been contacted shortly after placing orders with the above companies, by other companies saying that they are their magazine distributor and they HAVE to sign up for their service. They are selling you guys information to them using the same lines that YOUR credit card companies are giving this information. They buy leads and that is how your information is given.
There are several accounts of people who live in Puerto Rico, Guam, and Virgin Islands that the company has collected over $20,000 in payments from customers who will never receive the magazines. You may ask why, well magazine companies do not ship to those places. Then they have the nerve to send these people to outside collection agencies to collect a debt that should not be.
I suggest that all of you who have been affected by this contact somebody to get an end put to this fraud/scam. Get your money back. Don't let them tell you, that you can't get your money back. Threaten a lawyer, BBB or Attorney General and you will be able to cancel and get every single penny you have put into this illegal scam. The owners name is Tom Johnson, the President of the company is Russell Barnes. I am not doing this as a disgruntled employee. This is not right. Tell ALL your friends and family. DO NOT BE A VICTIM
Virginia Beach, Virginia
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/12/2008 07:18 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Area-Circulation-Media-Communications-Universal-Buying-Club-Magazine-Specials-Today-Readers-Serv/Virginia-Beach-Virginia-23455/Area-Circulation-Media-Communications-EX-employee-With-the-REAL-Scoop-Virginia-Beach-Vir-380641. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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