I called this company who advertised in the telephone directory in Murfreesboro, TN because I wanted a quick, uncontested divorce while keeping my location and identifying information secret from an abusive, stalker spouse.
I turned to an ad in the Yellow Pages offering an uncontested " a divorce by phone" for several hundred dollars. I had no children and no interest in pursuing any financial relief. And that they would send me the paperwork to sign. I asked did I need to do anything else he said no just go to court. I asked are these document something I can find online myself, he said yes, but, they would be filling out the forms and I would only need to sign and take to Court.
The woman (Michael Johnson) who I spoke to assured me it was perfectly legal and as long as he didn't contest it, which I had no idea where my husband was and was no longer at the last address. Michael said I'd be divorced in no time 5-12 weeks. He charged me $620.00 to be charged to my credit card. After trying to get away from this predator's clutches for two years, I was eager to sign up and give my money to a company who promised to help me while keeping my location a secret. I was assured repeatedly that there was no way this information would go to my estranged spouse as I did not know where he was but, he threatened to kill me and him via text from an unknown number.
I was assured my paperwork would be prepared and sent to me within five days. I perceived this to mean that all necessary, relevant and correct documents would be delivered to me via postal mail or courier service completed except for signatures. This was indicated in the intitial phone call with Michael Johnson.
I was told I needed to sign a document and fax back an acknowledgment of the service I was receiving and agreeing to pay for. The document states in bold about 2/3 of the way down "Important note: As a courtesy, please return this document signed", which I did.
I received an email with attachments, including sheafs of documents (most of which did not pertain to my particular case) with no instructions then when I call they sent me procedures for an entirely different State and unclear. I had to print almost 100 pages of paper AT MY OWN EXPENSE. With ink cartridges running at almost $50, this is cost-prohibitive, and should have been included in the $620 I was charged.
After reviewing the documents, the documents were incomplete, and many were unrelated to my case, and included sensitive contact information on the documents that were to go to my estranged spouse (which I had no idea where he was). I immediately contacted the company, and requested revised documents, which were promised to me that afternoon, but I didn't receive them until the next day. Again, I had to download them and reprint them at my expense. Another almost 100 pages of documents, most of which did not pertain to my case.
I called several times for assistance, but the process (even with a customer service rep (Susan and another woman) and the endless pages of instructions on filing) was convoluted and extremely frustrating with no absolute determination of what I should be filling out. I should add that I am not a stupid person, having a college degree and hold an Executive Position within a Fortune 500 Company. I could not seem to get the correct documentation. After ME filling out all the paperwork and going to the Courhouse the clerk explained to me the forms where incorrect and many did not apply to particular divorce nor was I following the correct procedures.
Another point: the $620 fee I was charged did NOT include filing fees, which were buried in the myriad of paperwork I had to print out. It cost me $237 for an index number, an $220 service fee to to run and add. I do not recall off hand what the exact number was, but I calculated that by the time I was done paying the fees, it would be almost as much as the $620 fee I was charged by this useless, predatory company. So what, exactly, did the $620 fee cover? Documents were at my own expense, and all filing/service fees were my responsibility. These people were NOT attorneys, or, as I came to find out later, legal representation; merely salespeople who were somewhat privvy to procedure in various states. I asked to speak with the manager or Owner which he told me his name was Lenny and I explained I was chastised by the Judge and the Clerk and I expected a refund since his documents were not correct nor were the procedures he sent. Not to mention I could have gottent he same Documents for free online (which I had askedin the beginning) and Divorce by Phone were to fill out and send to me.
Less than a week after my initial contact with this company, I called and requested a refund as the "service" I received was unsatisfactory, documents were incorrect , in addition to the majority of the documents not being completed prior to sending them to me. I spoke to Susan, Lenny (the supervisor) after three attempts (and three cleverly concealed refusals under the guise of continuing to "help" me by phone) to get a refund. Not to mention Susan the administrator on the phone stated she wanted to "REACH THROUGH THE GODAMN PHONE AND STRANGLE ME." The phone cal became a particularly tense exchange between the second rep I spoke to and Lenny. I continued to insist on a refund, and again hung up the phone because I was upset. I was furious, as I didn't want any contact with this man whatsoever. I made three attempts to get a refund, and three times I was refused. Instead they insisted upon "helping" me. The company did nothing to "help" me in the first place with incorrect/incomplete documents and telephone assistance.
I ended up hiring another attorney and paying half the cost of their service.
This company is a scam, their website is adivorcebyphone.com with no physical address and a staff who preys on low-income, desperate people who have no where to go to get out of a horrible domestic situation. I finally tracked them down to Las Vegas based on one of the return phone calls I received from a 702 area code phone number.
So one is left to wonder where, exactly IS this company located? Repeated attempts to locate them on the web resulted in my being directed here, which is a blessing in disguise, because I can finally let people know what a scam this company runs in fleecing desperate, low-income, vulnerable people who do not qualify for free (or low-cost) assistance, or the level of income which allows them to hire the best representation they can afford.
I intend to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in the event that I am denied my relief with the credit card company.
I sincerely hope that anyone who has been suckered by this shady operation file a complaint, and if need be, go to the Attorney General's Office to keep this company (and others like it) from taking advantage of desperate, vulnerable people in the same situation I found myself in.