• Report: #1010279

Complaint Review: International Masters Publishers, Inc.

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  • Submitted: Thu, February 07, 2013
  • Updated: Thu, February 07, 2013

  • Reported By: Billie D — Concord North Carolina United States of America
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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My 87 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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