New Beginnings, a Phoenix Arizona dating service, invited me via a telemarketing call to investigate their program and tell them what I thought of it, which I accepted. I called the morning of the appointment (Friday, January 31, 2003) and told Robert Shore I had decided I wasn't interested. However, he made me feel guilty saying he had come in to the office early so he could meet with me. I agreed to meet him after he had lunch.
I endured a two hour sales pitch, during which I was probed about my financial situation. I told him that I was out of work and looking for a job. I also emphasized that I was not sure I even wanted to start dating in the first place. He asked me if I would try it if he could get my payments to under $40 a month. I said I didn't know, and that I would have to go home and run the numbers. He asked if I had a credit card and if I would let him see how low he could make the payments with the interest rate of the card. I let him take my card for the purpose of determining the interest rate but informed him that I wasn't in any position to make a decision until I looked at my budget.
He took my card, SWIPED IT, AND CHARGED THE FULL $1,295.00. He returned with an application already filled out and the ticket ready for me to sign! When I protested his unauthorized use of my credit card, he gave no justification for his actions. To confuse the issue, he then offered me a job, saying that I could begin work on Monday. Knowing that I was out of work, I see in retrospect that this was a very manipulative move on his part. It also effectively skirted the issue of his swiping my card without permission. I accepted this unexpected job offer with the verbal agreement that I would start Monday, February 3.
I then indicated to him that I really needed to leave because I was late to my appointment to care for grandson. Because of his insistence in not taking no for an answer, he got me to sign both documents just so I could get away. He kept saying that I had nothing to lose since I could rescind my purchase within three days with a written letter of cancellation. He indicated that this could be done via fax. The written contract, however, states:
The client may rescind contract within three (3) business days after the customer signs the contract if within the three day period the customer either sends a signed written notice by hand delivery or certified mail to New Beginnings at . . .
(Note that the pathetic wording is that of New Beginnings. Also, the entire terms of the contract were printed in 8 point font.) Against my better judgment I signed everything, since I needed to leave and supposed that it would be easy enough to cancel. For no reason that was apparent to me at the time, he changed the day that I would start work to Thursday just as I was walking out the door. I now see this as very significant, since I had signed no employment contract and in fact had no legal guarantee of a job at all. By Thursday, it would have been to late to get a refund in the event that something came up and the position were no longer available. As I reviewed the events in Robert Shore's office later that evening, I became convinced that I had been taken in a scam. The following is a list of my communications with New Beginnings following my decision to cancel the agreement. Note that New Beginnings is open 7days/week.
February 1, 1:31 a.m.Faxed a letter of cancellation
February 1, 9:10 a.m.Faxed letter of cancellation.
Response: Phone call from Robert Shore. Said he had received my phone call. I indicated that I had not called, rather I had faxed my cancellation letter. He then reluctantly acknowledged having received the faxes. Said, Give me until Monday to find you a job. Did not volunteer that he would return the fax with his signature.
February 2, 6:41 a.m.Faxed letter of cancellation.
February 3, 8:30 a.m.Faxed letter of cancellation.
February 3, 8:50 a.m.Called by phone.
Response: Answering machine gave business hours of New Beginnings.
February 3, 10:30 a.m.Visited office with cancellation letters, requesting a signature.
So Monday morning at 10:30 I was in their office, two cancellation letters in hand, for someone to sign. Here is where I was really stone-walled: the receptionist told me that nobody with authority to sign the letter was in the office. She said that Robert would be in the office within an hour. I left two copies of the cancellation letter with the receptionist and indicated that I would call in one hour to verify that they had been signed.
When I called back to see if I could come get the signed letter, ROBERT TOLD ME THAT THERE WAS NOBODY IN THE OFFICE WHO HAD AUTHORITY TO SIGN THE CANCELLATION LETTERS. He said to come in at 8:00 PM and they would have it signed for me. Somehow, I don't believe anybody would have been in the office at 8:00p.m. So I went home and called my credit card company. I was advised to not only send in a letter by certified mail with a reply card to be sent to me, but that I also take a witness with me if I decided to hand deliver again. I not only took a witness, but she brought a camcorder and filmed the letter, the New Beginnings door and sign, and when they couldn't find anyone to sign the letter she filmed the letter on the desk, showing it had been delivered on Feb 3, 2003. Upon seeing the camera, the receptionist became hostile and told us we did not have permission to film inside the office and that the premises were private property. I told her we were just filming the letters on the desk as proof that they had been delivered, since we had been advised to have some sort of proof of the same.
Incredibly, the receptionist was suddenly able to find someone in the office with authority to sign the letter. I suspect they will remove the charge as I will have the signed letter and believe I will get the certified letter receipt from the post office to send to the credit card company. (That is, if they will have anyone who can sign the certified letter available when the mail carrier delivers it.) No one seems to have authority to sign that they received the letter, only authority to swipe a credit card and authorize contracts.
My advice, skip this expensive scam business. If you have already bought into a scam, take in a witness, a camcorder, and send the certified letter, too. Put the postage on the same credit card.
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