- Report: #1010279
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: International Masters Publishers, Inc.
International Masters Publishers, Inc.948 Plaza Dr. Montoursville, Pennsylvania United States of America
International Masters Publishers, Inc. Takes advantage of selling an 87 year-old woman with dementia a cookbook for $828.00 Montoursville, Pennsylvania
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year-old mother, who has dementia, is in an assisted living home. She ordered two series of books from an advertisement received through the mail from IMP: American Home Baking and Gardening Made Easy . Through their selling practice of omission and
doubletalk, she misunderstood the policy
and was soon receiving late payment statements. When I
looked at the paperwork, I found that not only was IMP's advertisements and
paperwork deliberately deceiving , the
company had obtained my mother's checking account number and turned her account
over to a collection agency. They made three draws ( $68.90 , 2.95, 9.76.) before we canceled the checking acct.
I went to
their website, imponline.com. The
advertisement for American Home Baking
describes the cookbook collection in bold letters, enticing
consumers with promises of " Absolutely
free welcoming package" (36
recipe cards, a binder w/10 dividers, and a pie dish,
listing a total value of $89.95.)
The welcoming package arrived, along with a bill for $3.68, for postage/handling, which was clearly omitted in the ad. The letter
stated that the consumer would
receive a packet of 12 recipe cards every three weeks for $7.95, plus $1.25
shipping/handling. However, the second paragraph starts with " In response
to customer requests , we have made available the option to receive 3 packs at
a time.... save on every shipment...pay only $.97 for an immediate savings of $2.50!" This is confusing and misleading at best. Even though other prices were noted, it never
makes clear that the cost every 3 weeks
is going to be $26.61. Nor do they mention the number of packets they will
receive or the total cost of the cookbook and gardening book. To confuse the consumer even more, subsequent statements come with offers to save $1 if they sign up for the "easy
payment" plan using their credit card again making it more difficult to track the cost. Also on
their website, there was a FAQ. which is wordy, non-definitive and omits key information.
Besides the overall cost, among other things, the return policy leaves out key information, such as if the packets are not sent back within 10
days, there is no refund and the consumer pays shipping, no exceptions.
I called the help number as listed , When I finally
spoke with someone, I told her I wanted
to ask a few questions about American Home Baking and Gardening Made
Easy before I ordered. She gave me the sales pitch and then asked for name,
etc, so I could begin the series.
Several more "scripted" exchanges were made in attempt to get me to
order. After a long dialog of direct questioning by me, and indirect answers
from the associate, I was finally told what is clearly omitted in their
information by mail and on the website: there
were 90 packets in both books, l
with the complete cost of $828.00 each. I find it
difficult to believe that a cookbook or a gardening book could possibly
be worth that amount of money!
In the case of my mother, I called Customer Service number twice. Both
phone calls began with asking for my customer number before I could speak with
someone. The first call, when I called
to address the late payment issue and total cost of both series, I had no trouble speaking with the
billing dept in a timely manner. However, I was on the phone with 3 different
associates before they finally pulled her records and we went over them. I
could not understand what the
billing/payment issues were, so I asked that they send a copy of the transactions.
About three weeks later, I received the records, along with a letter stating
that I could save 15% by signing up for the "easy payment plan." Obviously,
I cancelled the subscription. The other call was to find out how to send back 21 unopened packets for
reimbursement . (I accepted we had to keep and pay for the packets which were
opened.) The associates
and supervisor were adamant about the 10 day reimbursement, and would not agree
to refund my mother's money if we sent them back (again, no clarity about their
policy. ) The associate said even if the
packets were unopened, they were sent in a random (?) order, so they could not
use them even if I sent them back. They ended up claiming my mother still owed them money, but finally
said they would waive the money owed since my mother was in a facility. Of the 6 people I talked to
over the course of my discussions, 5 were second-language speakers, making
conversing difficult. It also became clear they had scripted responses, were trained to avoid questions by asking
questions, and told to frequently refer back to a desire to order.
I believe IMP
preys vulnerable customers, such as the elderly, who have difficulty
comprehending their doubletalk and omission of information.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/07/2013 08:25 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/International-Masters-Publishers-Inc/Montoursville-Pennsylvania-17754-2400/International-Masters-Publishers-Inc-Takes-advantage-of-selling-an-87-year-old-woman-wi-1010279. 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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