For the most part, I pretty much knew what I was getting into when I decided to become a member of SMC. I chose the monthly payment option for my initial membership fee and became a member in August 2005. I chose not to participate in anything that they offered outside of what was included in the initial membership fee and the annual membership fee because I could not afford to. Now, up until recently (July 2008), I did not have a problem with SMC. I understood the terms and conditions and agreed to abide by them. Unfortunately, I recently discovered that SMC violated the conditions set forth in the SMC Standard Membership Rules.
According to the SMC Standard Membership Rules, which are located on their website and made available to the public, the following occur:
3. Renewal Fees. You must timely pay an annual renewal fee (which is currently $49.95) to keep your membership active and to be eligible to receive updated catalogs, price lists and other information available to SMC members. SMC may change prices or institute new fees at any time. The renewal fee will be automatically charged on the 19th day of your anniversary month, or the next business day thereafter, to the credit card or bank account you have provided us, unless you inactivate or cancel your membership WITHIN 30 DAYS in accordance with Section 4 below
7. Suspension. If you fail to pay for any purchases from SMC, if any fees or charges are due but unpaid to SMC or its affiliate eMerchantClub, or if your account is delinquent, SMC may automatically apply any credits in your account to pay the balance due, or your membership may be suspended or canceled at SMC's discretion. Your account may be suspended if you become inactive or do not place at least one merchandise order per year. If your account is suspended you may reactivate your account by paying a reactivation fee (which is currently $74.95).
When I first called them, they claimed to not have received my annual membership fee for 2007 (I never recieved annual membership benefits for 2007) and that my account was suspended in November 2007 due to non-payment. My initial reaction was like, What?!?! It is supposed to be automatically deducted from my card/bank account...How could you not have recieved my annual membership fee for 2007? They asked me if I wanted to pay my annual membership fee for 2007 AND 2008 and reactivate my account for a fee. I said sure without asking how much the reactivation fee was, but that I was not paying my annual membership fee until August which is my anniversary month. After viewing my reactivated SMC account online, I discovered that an amount of 74.95 was due. I called SMC back and asked what that charge was for as it did not calculate to be my annual membership fees. No one could seem to directly tell me what this amount was for, although I figured out on my own later that it was the reactivation fee.
Keep in mind that throughout my all of my communications with SMC regarding this situation, I have been disrespected by EXTREMELY rude SMC representatives on long, drawn-out telephone conversations at my expense. Disappointed that this company would treat its "valued" members so poorly, I decided that I no longer want to be a member of SMC and called to cancel my membership.
Still, I felt that something was not right with regard to my situation. I began thinking, investigating, and acting...
Upon inspection of my past bank statements, I did not find any deductions from SMC (I will keep inspecting future bank statments to ensure that NO transactions from SMC occur), so perhaps their claims are true and they did not recieve payment of my annual membership fee for 2007; however, this is entirely THEIR fault as per the SMC Standard Membership Rules and I should have never been charged a reactivation fee for THEIR error, but rather only the annual membership fees for 2007 and 2008.
I believe that this situation developed as a shady business tactic fabricated in order to expedite more fees to their unsuspecting members, especially due to the exceptionally rude behavior and lack of attention to the matter at-hand. They claimed to have sent me statements requesting payment of the annual membership fee, which they may have done; however, I probably did not recieve them because I do not have a permanent address and do all business transactions online or by telephone. Not-to-mention the fact that I had expected the annual membership fee to be automatically deducted as per the SMC Standard Membership Rules and I know that I made ABSOLUTELY NO changes to my account or instructed SMC to make any changes to my account which included not automatically deducting the annual membership fee from my card/bank account (A fee that seems to increase every year).
I reported SMC to the BBB. My SMC membership is STILL open eventhough I instructed them to cancel my membership AND the reactivation fee applied to my account is STILL there. At the time of the BBB complaint, I believed that I should have been refunded the annual membership fee for 2007; however, I no longer seek that as part of the resolution because there is no record of payment. The only resolution that I seek now is that for the relationship between SMC and I to come to a permanent end, with each of us owing each other absolutely nothing! My complaint will remain on the company's record for 3 years as unresolved. I will only move to contact the BBB and inform them of the company's effort to resolve this issue IF the company decides to step up and resolve the issue. My request is not unreasonable; therefore, I see no reason why it should not be honored.
If you should decide to deal with SMC or any other company for that matter, you should always look into what the rules are for running a business in your state and be familiar with all of laws regarding business practices. Always be sure to read and understand all policies surrounding a company that you plan on dealing with. Remember, there is no getting rich quick unless it is a scam. Normally, businesses have to make or invest in product before they can sell it. Save and plan for your business ventures. Good luck.
Baldwinsville, New York
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