About a year ago, in June 2006, I got a call from a sales agent at IT DataDirect saying that our community centre's subscription to an online directory had been automatically renewed after two years, and that the organization's name was already in a new directory, therefore we had to pay an overdue sum.
As I had been in the organization less than two years at the time, I assumed my predecessor, who was into marketing and fundraising, had signed the center up. I accepted the fee but requested that the organization been withdrawn from the automatic renewal list. The agent told me that the fee was 99$ and that another agent would call to confirm our adress.
Much to my surprise, when the other agent called, the fee was up to 199$ + tx and shipping. I thought I had misunderstood, as we were speaking French, and the agent's French had a heavy English accent (we are a French-speaking organization).
Dismayed, I still sent out a cheque, thinking the matter resolved. However, I was much surprised and irritated when I got another call saying that my 199$ (which had somehow become 251$) was only the first installment. This had not been specified. I requested a written confirmation that we had already paid (Last payment written on our bill) and also a contract detailing installments, if that was the case. The agent refused, saying it was not the company's policy. I asked to speak with a supervisor, which was also refused. When I asked the name of the company's president, this information was also refused.
Meanwhile, a company named Megabyteinfo.com also contacted me saying we still had an installment to pay on another directory. Thinking my predecessor had gone a little too far in his marketing strategies, I asked if this was the last payment on a product we had already received, and was told yes, it was. This was in March 2007.
However, much to my surprise, the company sent me another bill in April saying that the March installment was confirmation of our renewed subscription, when I had clearly stated that our organization did not wish to renew and wanted to be withdrawn from their list. The agent had assured me in March that we would not be sollicited again.
I requested the same as with IT DataDirect: a written confirmation of last payment and detailed installments. The agent first said yes, but when another agent called, she said that this was against company policy and muttered something about their printer not being able to produce invoices with this statement. I was also told that in order to get a copy of the initial contract with a detail of installments, it would take three months, and that we would be sued for non payment in the meantime.
Seeing as I could not get any written documents, I sent a number of letters to both companies saying that I was not authorized to pay until I had written confirmation that this was the last payment and had a copy of the contract. I was harrassed by calls from both companies. The agents repeated the same thing: we cannot give you any written proof. You must pay and write on your cheque that it is the last payment (yeah right !). So we are not paying ! This is fraud ! I submitted a report to the RCMP (phonebusters) concerning these two companies.
While researching more information, I could only come across sites that reported these companies as a scam. It is a very elaborate scam, and it is a real shame that they target nonprofit organizations who depend on donations, grants and fundraising events to provide important services to the population!
We are now down over 500$ over this (money with which we could have served 125 free meals, for example, or bought 25 soccer balls for kids) and I doubt we will recover this money, even though we will try to.