• Report: #304680

Complaint Review: Shopping Essentials, Trilegiant Corp.-Affinion Group, Adaptive Marketing LLC, Restaurant.com Website

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  • Submitted: Wed, January 30, 2008
  • Updated: Tue, March 31, 2009

  • Reported By:Charlotte North Carolina
Shopping Essentials, Trilegiant Corp.-Affinion Group, Adaptive Marketing LLC, Restaurant.com Website
100 Connecticut Avenue Norwalk, Connecticut U.S.A.

Shopping Essentials Aka Trilegiant Corp.-Affinion Group, Adaptive Marketing LLC, Partnered On Restaurant.com Website Unauthorized Credit/Debit Card Charges, Deceptive Offers for Free Trails Partnered on Major Vendor Websites and Billing Monthly for Services Not Approved or Received. Norwalk Connecticut

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Affinion markets 1000's of ways

*Consumer Comment: Trilegiant Corp. aka Affinion Publishing LLC is working with WELLS FARGO BANK too

*Author of original report: P.S. So much for the Spell-Checker.

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Shopping Essentials (AP9 ShoppingEssentials).

Today, I have had the experience of being billed on our debit card for a service we did *not* request or authorize. The billing was on our Nov., Dec. debit card statement for 2007 and Jan. 2008. The amount was $14.95 for each transaction.

The circumstances that "triggered" this, I have learned, was when visiting Restaurant.com website to purchase a discount restaurant certificate.

Shopping Essentials (Adaptive Marketing LLC) is a third-party partner on Restaurant.com that displays "ads" or "surveys" on the site that either pop-up or aremone of the "progressive screens" used when continuing to purchase, checkout or confirm your purchase.

The customer is susposed to click on a link at the bottom of the ad or survey that says "No Thank you" or "Skip" as the case may be. Otherwise, clicking on this survey or offer will automatically enroll you in the "program" that is a 30 day free-trial that will begin to bill the credit card you made your original purchase (in my case the discount restaurant coupon) and continue to bill every month about 30 days later.

Upon checking the debit card statement we noticed the charge for Shopping Essentials and a descriptions like the following:

POS 000123 *POS* 8889990654 CT AP9*shoppingessentials VA

(For posting privacy our beginning POS number was different)

We immediately called the phone number in the description and after 20+ rings got a dial-option menu. We made the choice indicated and waited for 15 min. for someone to answer. The initial customer rep. indicated that the information in the debit card description was billed for the buying discount club Shopping Essentials. We indicated that we had no knowledge of this service and had not signed-up for or approved the purchase. We were then transferred to a supervisor. The supervisor requested our debit card number before he could help us. We gave our telephone number and other information that identified us but he could only help us with the card number.

After speaking with the bank and card issuer, we called back and gave a the card number to another supervisor. They indicated this service was purchased at Restaurant.com by myself (my name listed on the account at Restaurant.com, *not* the name on the debit card (immediate family member), nor the address listed with Restaurant.com). She then went on to say that the purchasing person *not* the person whose name was on the debit card would have to call, she could not give out that info.

I called back again and explained that I *was* the person they had listed as the purchaser of the DISCOUNT RESTAURANT COUPON but I did not sign-up for the Shopping Essentials service. They disagreed and said that it was subscribed to on Restaurant.com. At that point I explained that I and the debit card holder did not approve the charge and that we requested the charged be removed. The supervisor said that past charges could not be refunded, but future charges could be. We said that we wanted to be immediately removed from this montly subscription. The supervisor that they would do so.

We did not receive any written or electronice notice of this service either as a 30 day trial or paid subscription service. We did not receive any products or services during this time. No approval or service details to allow access to whatever this service was susposed to be in the first place--if Shopping Essentials had indeed enrolled us in this discount shopping club.

After not getting any helpful assistance after 3-4 calls to Shopping Essentials customer service line and speaking to a different supervisor each time and being denied a refund, we next turned to Restaurant.com for answers.

Restaurant.com
Customer Service number is: Toll free: 1.800.979.8985.
(9:00a.m. 5:00p.m. CST, Monday through Friday)

I spoke with a service representative and explained the situation calmly to her and she transferred me (at my request) to her supervisor. The supervisor was very polite, positve and helpful in working to resolve this incorrect billing. She indicated they would contact Shopping Essentials to have these charges removed. (She indicated that I would receive an email when this is accomplished).

I will wait to see if Restaurant.com does indeed follow-through with this action. In the past, I have had a great experience using Restaurant.com. It has been a wonderful service. I do not fault Restaurant.com directly for this deceptive and unapproved billing to our debit card. This is an accepted third-party vendor on their site that pays to advertise and offer services to their customers.

On the other hand, as indicated on this website and during my conversation with the Restaurant.com customer service persons today, this is a known issue by the company and others have had the same problem of being billed without their knowledge or approval. Correcting my issue is helpful to me, but correcting this continued practice on their purchase site that not only advertises third-party services and/or displays a "survey" and thereby

***allowing our credit card information (number, exp. date and billing address) from a secure transaction for their own product (restaurant discount coupons) to be transferred along with my member details (who I was logged in as on Restaurant.com) to ANY third-party partner during the transaction process--esp. if this was done in a deceptive or not expressly clear manner that the purchaser was in anyway caught unaware of the service(s) being acquired in addition to the original intended purchase--was sad breach of trust for implied for myself and any other customers.***

Unfortunately, the more information I have gathered during this event makes it clear that there are *many* websites that are allowing the parent company: Trilegiant Corp.-Affinion Group & Adaptive Marketing LLC, and it's long list of subsidiaries including:

AP9 ShoppingEssentials, IK9 Shopping Essentials as well as the following:

Protection Plus, AutoVantage, AutoVantage.com, AOL AutoVantage, Buyers Advantage, Shoppers Advantage, ShoppersAdvantage.com, Citishopper, Netmarket, Netmarket.com, AOL Netmarket, PrivacyGuard, PrivacyGuard.com, AOL Credit Alert , Travelers Advantage, TravelersAdvantage.com, AOL Travelers Advantage, Sears Discount Travel Club, Credentials Services, Complete Home, OurCompleteHome.com, Today's Homeowner Values, Homeowners Savings Network, Great Fun, GreatFun.com, Family FunSaver Club, Just For Me, HealthSaver, Dental Plus Group Plan, Great Options, Dinner On Us Club, Hot-Line, Macy's Hot-Line, Chase Traveler, Cheap Tickets Gold, First USA, Clever Clubhouse, Trilegiant (TLG) , CreditKeeper, Trilegiant (AOL- Etmarkt DE), CREDENTIALS SERVICES INTERNATIONAL, INC, AOL Auto Advantage, hot-line credit card bureau of america, TLG Healthsaver, Affinion Group, LLC, National Home Protection Alliance, NHPA, ID SECURE, Travel ER, Cendant Membership Services, Citicorp, Credit Card Guardian, Credit Card Hotline, Credit Line, Credit Monitoring Service, Credit-Line, Creditline, Dental Edge, Hot Line, Hot wallet Protection, HOT-LINE Credit Card Bureau of America, Hotline Credit Card Bureau of America, Identity Fraud Protection, National Card Registry, National Home Protection, Pro Plus, Protection Plus, Safecard Services, Safecard Services, Cendant Company, Safeguard Services, Sears Credit Card Registration Service, Wallet Security, National Credit Registry, Great Options, Credit Alert, TLG Privacy Grd, AOL Credit Alert, Privacy Guard, Credential Credit Service

Are all being used as paying partners by companies and/or websites such as:

Macy's, Bloomingdale's, JCPenney3, Dillard's, American Eagle Outfitters, Dress Barn, L.L. Bean, Regis Salon, Sears, Linens 'n Things, Lillian Vernon, KB Toys, Sports Authority, Borders and Waldenbooks, SonyAwards and The Sharper Image, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Samsonsite Company Store, FTD.com and more.

(See: http://cleverosity.com/FULLLIST.html , http://www.shoppingessentials-program.com/ , http://www.adaptivemarketing.com/ for additional details about the company, past class-action suits in 2006 and a current class-action suit being filed)

Their websites indicate the following contact information (whois):

Registrant:
Adaptive Marketing
Adaptive Marketing
9500 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68114
US
admincontact@adaptivemarketing.com
+1.4026612000 Fax: +1.4026612727

Domain Name: ADAPTIVEMARKETING.COM
Registrar of Record: Corporate Domains, Inc.

Administrative Contact:
Adaptive Marketing
Adaptive Marketing
9500 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68114
US
admincontact@adaptivemarketing.com
+1.4026612000 Fax: +1.4026612727
Technical Contact:
Adaptive Marketing
Adaptive Marketing
9500 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68114
US
techcontact@adaptivemarketing.com
+1.4026612000 Fax: +1.4026612727

Domain servers in listed order:

NS1.ADAPTIVEMARKETING.COM
NS2.ADAPTIVEMARKETING.COM

Created on..............: 13-Jun-05
Expires on..............: 19-Aug-08
Record last updated on..: 13-Jul-07


The previous information has been obtained either directly from the registrant or a registrar of the domain name other than Network Solutions. Network Solutions, therefore, does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

Show underlying registry data for this record



Current Registrar: CSC CORPORATE DOMAINS, INC.
IP Address: 65.218.28.17 (ARIN & RIPE IP search)
IP Location: US(UNITED STATES)-NEBRASKA-OMAHA
Record Type: Domain Name
Server Type: IIS 6
Lock Status: clientTransferProhibited
Web Site Status: Active
DMOZ no listings
Y! Directory: see listings
Secure: No
E-commerce: Yes
Traffic Ranking: 0
Data as of: 26-Aug-2007


AND

Registrant:
Adaptive Marketing
Adaptive Marketing
9500 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68114
US
admincontact@adaptivemarketing.com
+1.4026612000 Fax: +1.4026612727

Domain Name: ADAPTIVEMARKETING.COM
Registrar of Record: Corporate Domains, Inc.

Administrative Contact:
Adaptive Marketing
Adaptive Marketing
9500 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68114
US
admincontact@adaptivemarketing.com
+1.4026612000 Fax: +1.4026612727
Technical Contact:
Adaptive Marketing
Adaptive Marketing
9500 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68114
US
techcontact@adaptivemarketing.com
+1.4026612000 Fax: +1.4026612727

Domain servers in listed order:

NS1.ADAPTIVEMARKETING.COM
NS2.ADAPTIVEMARKETING.COM

Created on..............: 13-Jun-05
Expires on..............: 19-Aug-08
Record last updated on..: 13-Jul-07


The previous information has been obtained either directly from the registrant or a registrar of the domain name other than Network Solutions. Network Solutions, therefore, does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

Show underlying registry data for this record



Current Registrar: CSC CORPORATE DOMAINS, INC.
IP Address: 65.218.28.17 (ARIN & RIPE IP search)
IP Location: US(UNITED STATES)-NEBRASKA-OMAHA
Record Type: Domain Name
Server Type: IIS 6
Lock Status: clientTransferProhibited
Web Site Status: Active
DMOZ no listings
Y! Directory: see listings
Secure: No
E-commerce: Yes
Traffic Ranking: 0
Data as of: 26-Aug-2007


CONCLUSION:

Please be sure to WATCH all purchases made online even at "safe" sites to be sure that any offers or surveys aren't a free-trail in disguise. Yes, if you DESIRE the offer, by all means accept it, but make sure that you understand any description of services first. After making any purchase, ALWAYS check your card or bank statement *more* than 30 days later to be sure no charges (even small charges like $14.95 or $19.95) do not show up. If they do be absolutely sure you recognize them!

If charges are made without your approval or knowledge, IMMEDIATELY contact the biller AND your financial institution and card issuer whether it is a credit card or (debit card charges which sometime show up as a "ATM Withdrawal"). Do not accept any inaccurate charges, rather contest them as soon as possible!

And in the case of a commerce website being the point of origin for this unapproved purchase, also contact the commerce site's customer support for assistance in resolving the problem as well. They may NOT realize that the charge originated at their website since it isn't included in their own transaction, so inform them that this was their third-party partner that originated the charge DURING your original purchase. A manager or supervisor should either be aware of or be able to investigate what partners they have and who is setup to provide online offers to their customers. ALWAYS get the customer service rep's name and operator/extension ID number or call log/confirmation number for your call incident for follow-up and reference.


***Not only must the Buyer Beware...but the Buyer must follow-up and follow-through!***

I hope my situation will be resolved by Restaurant.com and their third-party partner Shopping Essentials, time will tell. I would hope that Restaurant.com and similar sites to moniter closely *how* their partners are advertising and being sure that an easy "opt-out" or "opt-in" is CLEARLY indicated.

These days customers are hard to get, harder to get back if they are deceived or taken advantage of and of course will tell others of their unhappy experiences. Business 101. But with difficult economic times, competition increasing and consumers holding on their their disposible income much more tightly, merchants--esp. online merchants--cannot afford to alienate current and prospective customers by allowing deceptive business practices to occure on their website OR not be responsible in allowing loose access to secure credit/debit card transactions and member account information.

Be careful out their!

M.G.
Charlotte, North Carolina
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/30/2008 02:51 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Shopping-Essentials-Trilegiant-Corp-Affinion-Group-Adaptive-Marketing-LLC-Restaurantcom-Website/Norwalk-Connecticut-06850/Shopping-Essentials-Aka-Trilegiant-Corp-Affinion-Group-Adaptive-Marketing-LLC-Partnered-304680. 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.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Affinion markets 1000's of ways

AUTHOR: Pete - (U.S.A.)

First off, Affinion Group, formerly Trilegiant, LLC markets 100's of products thu 1000's of clients. Each marketing campaign is unique to the client. They use the client's interface, unless Affinion has created their own sign-up mechanism, of which, they have many. So if you missed that you signed up for something, you can blame the host site for this, not the product you purchased.

MOST of the sites and products you listed are in the Affinion portfolio, however they are mostly marketed under some other "brand", usually the client's brand. In many cases, these are banks and retail websites. However, Adaptive Marketing and Affinion are not related, so I have no idea how you made that connection. Affinion is based in Norwalk, CT.

Yes, absolutely be aware of your online use and what you purchase or sign up for, both with and without your consent. These kinds of things are nearly impossible to prove after-the-fact. What happened to you is that restaurant.com either linked off to another site during your purchase and/or continued thru the advertisers products during your purchase. You have them to blame for your purchase experience, not Affinion.

Also, if you trace the history of those class-action suits, you will see they went nowhere. There has never been anything illegal proven against Affinion's marketing techniques.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Trilegiant Corp. aka Affinion Publishing LLC is working with WELLS FARGO BANK too

AUTHOR: Sheesh - (U.S.A.)

My UNDERAGE son received a Wells Fargo Bank letter that said it was for a AutoVantage Enhanced offer because he was a valued customer with WFB and would get a FREE IPod (which is not true he has no account with WFB) for signiong up fro this road service that only shows Wells Fargo name and no other company names. Not until you turn to the back of the letter in small print it showed this AutoVantage Enhanced service belongs to Trilegiant Corp. aka Affinion Publishing LLC and Brickell Financial Services Motor Club DBA Road America Motor Club is the company that does the road service. Did a search on these company names only to find numerous complaints in several states against all these company names.
So after calling Wells Fargo Bank they said my son would have to fill out an opt out form so they can take him off of these telemarketing offers, obvioulsy they weren't listening so I replied he is not a customer of WFB as I stated before so how does this opt out form apply to a underaged non customer. To silence for about a minute then I was transferred to one after another person explaining the story over and over which none of them could figure out what to do now. They had no idea of what to do with a non customer or what to fill out and was left at that. So I filed a complaint with their Corporate Office, BBB and FTC which is when these harassing cold calls that hang up started coming in 5-10 times daily from 1-877-740-3334/1-877-740-3335 who is National Union Fire Insurance Co aka AIG, Inc. and 1-954-926-5987 from Hollywood,FL with a WELLS FARG O BANK caller id. Filed numerous FTC DNC complaints on these numbers to no avail and never heard back from Wells Fargo either on any solution for their telemarkters not to contact my son or the calls.
Wells Fargo Bank and these telemarketers that WBF is affiliated with that have numerous complaints against them is very SHADY business partnership going on here. It's no wonder all these companies have complaints and court hearings on several websites and states when entering the names on any search engine, now seeing all the companies affiliated on this site it's no surprise they keep using company name after company name to try and stay ahead of numerous consumer complaints.
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#3 Author of original report

P.S. So much for the Spell-Checker.

AUTHOR: Stealthreconn - (U.S.A.)

Hmmm. We really can spell in the South...as long as there is a spell-checker, sorry about that.

Be Careful Out There!

M.G.
Charlotte, NC
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