Fri, September 17, 2010
Thu, September 30, 2010
Greenville South Carolina United States of America
1322 Space Park Drive, Suite A-276 Houston, Texas United States of America Phone:
Vending Machine Companies
Centerpoint Industries Centerpointe Industries Slick salesman, missed deadlines, excuses, lies, incompetence. Houston, Texas
*Author of original report: Update (a few weeks later)
Not a scam (I think). As far as I can tell, Centerpointe is a legitimate business. They do 1-2.5 million dollars of business a year, according to manta.com. The locator they recommend claims to place several hundred machines per year for them. They give references. All in all, probably not a scam.
They are geared for the individual just getting into the business. They will put you in contact with a locator if you choose to use one. The costs for getting into the business are realisticthey list $10,595 as the cost for getting set up. That includes three machines, delivery, the locating service, and the product for the machines. That money is not all paid to Centerpoint, but it is a realistic estimate for the total cost of setting up three machines.
Slick salesman. Steve Green has all his memorized speeches ready. If you have a question, you'll get a speech that may or may not apply, but it'll sound good. I've heard some of his speeches 2 or 3 times.
Gimmick "specials." I talked with David in March. He told me that every machine comes with a free dollar bill validator. I talked with Steve in May. He put me on hold to "check on this week's special" and guess what? A free dollar bill validator. I received the paperwork, and "if I ordered within five days, I get a free dollar bill validator!" Later Steve told me that as long as I change the date on the order form, I can get the free dollar bill validators anytime. Why would a reputable company need to use gimmicks, and lie about "needing to check this week's special"?
Questionable claims. Steve claims that you can expect "$500-700 per machine per month" based on the industry average. I asked where those figures came from. He told me the company that did the study, and I called that company. They had never heard of the report that Steve claims to be quoting.
Sending in your payment is the watershed event--everything changes at that point. They will accept a personal check, but it adds "about a day" to allow the payment to clear the bank. (I asked several times, and Steve confirmed, "only about a day.") In reality, it actually adds about a week. Before, Steve claims to work with you and teach you how to maximize your earnings, with tips like popping a bag of popcorn when you service the machine, or taping prizes to some of the soda cans. After, there is no list of suggestions or other "teaching" services, just the ideas already mentioned. Before, the customer service is great. After, it's terrible. (See below).
Delivery. Steve will tell you that the machines will be delivered in "10-14 business days." The contract says "21 working days," but it also states that in the event of "circumstances beyond our control," it could be 45 working days. That's nine weeks that Centerpoint has to deliver, and believe me, they are in no hurry. They don't provide any evidence that there has been an unavoidable delay. In fact, Steve doesn't even call or contact you. He just takes his time and leaves you hanging.
Ignored deadlines. First it was "10-14 days." When that passed, he didn't call. After several days of trying, I got hold of Steve. He said that there was a "minor part delay, but the part should be in by Friday." After Friday, no call or contact. I called repeatedly, and finally got him on Wednesday. The part wouldn't be in for another two weeks! That deadline passed--no call, no contact, again. I got hold of them the following Monday. Supposedly the machines had shipped Friday, and I should have the confirmation and tracking number Tuesday. Then Wednesday. Steve was unavailable Thursday. Still nothing by Friday. OK, IF the part delay is genuine (which I question), I understand that Steve can't help that. But any decent company should at least call if they blow a deadline--and six deadlines in a row is inexcusable!
Unreturned calls. Before you send in your full payment, Steve is always available. He will call you, sometimes two or three times a day. (Think "pest." I stopped answering unless I needed to talk to him.) After the payment was received, he was constantly "out of the office," "in a meeting," and once "mowing the lawn" (apparently they were running thin on excuses). It took several days of calling before he'd return my calls. He claimed that a family emergency had pulled him away from work "momentarily." That's the same excuse he used two weeks before. If the "family emergency" was genuine (a big "IF") I can sympathize, but it doesn't explain why the secretary didn't say that, nor how a "momentary" absence equals 3-4 days of unreturned calls on four separate occasions.
He once told me that if he wasn't available, I could talk to "Amy Willis," the other account manager. Guess what? There is no Amy Willis working there, and Steve Greene is the only account manager! Just how stupid does he think I am? (OK, I ordered from him. I guess does qualify me for the "stupid" category.)
Arbitration. According to the contract, you cannot take Centerpoint to court (although I have contact info for a lawyer to test that out). All disputes are to be handled by arbitration, in Houston, TX. Convenient--he can take your money and ignore you, and there's nothing you can do about it.
BBB reports. When I checked the Better Business Bureau, there were only two complaints in the last three years--not too bad for a company doing 1-2 million a year. Now there are seven--and now that I've filed one, that's eight. At least six new complaints within two months!! That indicates some major problems in my view.
References: When I asked for references, he gave me 2 numbers. Both were cell numbers without personalized greetings ("You've reached 123-456-7890. Please leave a message" variety). I paid to get the owner info for both. One was a relative of Steve Greene. When I told Steve this, he claimed that he'd given me the wrong number. The new number was supposedly a woman living in California--but it was a cell number for Houston, TX. And again, no personal greeting. Both the "customers" I finally talked with were very positive about Centerpoint, but when I've tried to contact them more recently to verify what they told me, I can't get hold of anyone on either number. I can't help wondering just who these "references" are.
Bottom line: STUNNINGLY, BLINDINGLY, OUTSTANDINGLY TERRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE. So far, 6 missed deadlines and 16 unreturned calls on 14 separate days (and counting). When I do get hold of Steve, I get plenty of excuses and outright lies, but no solid answers or action. Centerpoint is either crooked or incompetent--either way, avoid the company.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/17/2010 11:07 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Centerpoint-Industries/Houston-Texas-/Centerpoint-Industries-Centerpointe-Industries-Slick-salesman-missed-deadlines-excuses-641544. 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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