You're up late watching CSI and eating popcorn when on comes a Bargain Network commercial. Images of foreclosed homes for only $199 a month and police-impounded cars for only $500 flash rapidly on the screen while a voice urges you to call the 1-800 number for more information. Are these deals too good to be true, or are you really being taken for a ride?
First and foremost, Bargain is a great company to work for if you are a college student or if you can't do physically demanding work. Their lower management or "Team Leaders" are very friendly and help motivate the sales staff. They offer performance bonuses, especially if you are a great producer. They also don't require that you pass a drug test before employment which may or may not be good depending on your situation.
I would often be among the top 10 sellers and as a result I got a nicer desk, computer and comfy leather chair. Free lunch everyday, come-in-when-you-feel-like-it schedule, preferred parking and massages every Wednesday also came with the extra $150-$600 bonuses I made weekly.
Daily top sellers could shoot basketballs for cash at the end of the day or grab extra winnings inside a glass cash-filled wind tunnel, all in sight of the other employees who would be even more motivated to take your call and credit card number. This was nice for us employees, especially me, but I wondered how the company made enough money for all this. How does the consumer fare? Coming from a Bargain Network top employee, here are some things you may want know before giving your credit card number to Bargain Network or their ever-spewing promotion associates.
Bargain Network doesn't only advertise on TV. They place advertisements in your local newspaper for, say a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house for only $129,000. You call the number, only to find out that the "seller" is really an operator at a facility full of telemarketers and has absolutely no knowledge about the home or its location. (On a side note, management doesn't like the word telemarketer and instead prefers Telephone Sales Representative, "because we don't make calls, we take them.
Once you are hooked by the great offer and you call, the operator diverts you from the ad and asks for your zip code, then tells you about listings for thousands of homes in your area, including the one you called about. The listings would only be mailed to you for only $1.95 supposedly to cover postage. However, paying the postage also requires you to become a member that receives more listings, which after a free 30 day trial will cost you nearly $500 a year.
Additionally, they will only accept your credit card number or your bank account info from the bottom of your check, even if you offer to send them a money order or pay in advance for this small fee. Why? Because once they have your credit card info, they can make canceling their services a living hell. Consider it a more sophisticated bait and switch.
When you try the free 30 day trial, Bargain Network also tells you that since you are now a new member, as a special reward you get to try other services free too. In reality this is offered to everybody who has a card that can be charged for worthless programs. The services renew after various time periods and by the end of the call you may find yourself with 5 companies that will charge your credit card.
Fairly enough, Bargain Network provides numbers you can call to cancel these after the free trials expire. But here's the problem: The numbers often change or are disconnected, are for places in different time zones that operate during their business hours, and have a wait time upwards of 45 minutes.
Also, according to many angry callers I've gotten, the customers were still charged after canceling their services. Even according to complaints to the Better Business Bureau, callers still get charged after canceling. It is nearly impossible to timely cancel these charges, and Bargain Network knows this. This is how they make money.
I've gotten a lot of calls from consumers regarding non-existent cars or homes. Many of the callers don't speak English well and don't understand that they are about to be financially raped by credit-card charges. Most of the callers we target have a low income and as a result are understandably more interested in a cheap car or ultra-affordable home. This is also true of the elderly and especially victims of Hurricane Katrina who lost their homes and are looking for an affordable way to rebuild their lives. But let's get real. When is the last time you've seen a home sell for $27,000, like the one in the example at Bargain's website?
I remember one call I got from a guy who was really excited about a newsprint ad for a house selling for about $125,000. He said he and his wife were looking for a house big enough for his 3 kids and he wanted the address so he could check it out.
A TSR gave him the spiel about how that listing is one among many other listings only available to members, and enticed him into signing up. The caller said that even after becoming a member, he never got the address of the house, and it wasn't on Bargain's website either. He told me that when he called to ask why, he was told it was because the house sold fast because it was such a good deal, so the listing was removed.
He realized that he was still being charged for other listings available for free elsewhere, and went through the canceling process to put an end to the $39.95 monthly charges for the home listings program. I found all this out when he called back 4 months later asking why we have the exact same ad in the newspaper for the same house, same price, when it had supposedly been sold. Bargain doesn't provide employees with a rebuttal script for what to do when caught in the act of false advertising, so all I could do was apologize to the guy.
Bargain Network does the same thing when advertising cars, computers and other so-called products and services. Their website proclaims Over One Million Members Have Trusted Bargain Network to Help Them Achieve Their Dreams. But before you take out that credit card, maybe you should check out the Better Business Bureau and the grade Bargain Network has earned itself from some of these apparently ever-grateful members.
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