I was also solicited by Poetry.com. My first contact was as a result of a contest entry by mail. Of course they were gushing with praise for my poem. Then came their sales pitch - 'buy this anthology, including your poem for only...' I did not buy the book. My personal philosophy is that paying anyone, other than a reputable printer, to publish your writing is not an option.
I relate to the deflation you feel when you realize that you are the victim of a sales pitch rather than a legitimate contest. But again, I parted with no money, I heard some nice words (no matter how insincere) and suffered no more than a mild disappointment.
It seems that this company operates under more than one name. When I submitted a poem to an online contest by 'The International Society of Poets', I again began receiving many emails from Poetry.com. This was, of course, discouraging but I will say that my poem did get a little bit of exposure. I could confirm that my poem was posted online and there were votes cast for it. I was also able to send the link to friends and family who could go there to read and vote.
Of course, I was again solicited to buy their books and plaques - which I did not do. My suggestion would be this; if you want some experience of entering contests and would like some limited exposure (very limited), go for it, but I would not send them ANY money. They should be ashamed of the way they pray on the desire of aspiring poets to be read and recognized.
For those people who really crave some very real feedback and recognition, let me suggest Writing.com. It is an internet site where authors of all genres and poetry can post their writing. Other writers and/or readers will read you work and give you feedback on it. I cannot say enough about this site. I have been a member for about six months and I have gotten thousands of hits on my writing as well as a plethura of wonderful feedback. Here is my page http://Writing.Com/authors/marchbooks
You can post any forms of poetry or prose (fiction or non-fiction). Granted, it is not the rush of publication, but it is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to get feedback from people other than their family and friends.