In December of 2008, I bought 5 vending machines from a large national vendor. Jay Baird from Advance Placement soon after called me, to sign me up for their services (The very important fact to note here is that big vendors will give your contact info to these scammer locating services, without your permission. I've run into this with multiple companies now). He promised that they would find 5 locations for me in two weeks, maybe "a little longer". He was very professional and friendly, and I was utterly impressed and signed up for his service, also mailing them the required 1/2 down (in my case, $750).
Three weeks went by and Jennifer called me. She also was very friendly, but this conversation raised the first red flags for me. She said she was calling to "start" the locating process. Start? I was supposed to HAVE locations by then! I already had the machines completely ready and my house was stacked with cases of food and drinks! (Including chips and similar items that would expire well before my machines were ever placed). But I went with the flow and gave her the information she needed to start the process. She said she would call me the following Thursday with at least 2-3 of the locations, and that the week after she would have the remaining 2-3 locations.
I at that time made arrangements for placing the machines, hiring lift help, a van, a dolly, etc. for both of those Fridays. The next Thursday rolled around and I got no call from Jennifer. So I called them and was told Jennifer was busy, and would call me back. She did so about a day later. They had no locations for me, she said that she was going to have to basically start the process over and that they probably would now be sending a locator out in person in a week or two. Jennifer said the cities I had given her weren't working out, and that they would have to go further south into Denver to find locations, which was NOT where I wanted locations.
I told her so and was trying to tell her other cities I would like and basically get things figured out, and she was in a huge hurry and trying to rush me off the phone, to the point of being rude. She had another customer on hold, and rather than having them leave a message she was rudely ending my call to deal with them (which she had never done in the past to answer my calls, by the way). She also never offered to call me back when she was less busy. At this point I was upset and angry and asked what the fee would be for canceling the whole thing. She said it would be a "large fee" and that I would have to call back and talk to Steven later, and ended the call abruptly. I never again received a call from Jennifer.
I sent them numerous e-mails asking for someone higher up than Jennifer to contact me, and asking for a refund. Nobody ever called or e-mailed me back. I'm quite convinced that they never would have contacted me again and would have just kept my money, except for the fact that I filed a complaint with the VP of the company I bought the machines from (APS gets TONS of business from them, and has to take them seriously). The VP called them, and Jay Baird then finally called me back, and promised the "red carpet" treatment from now on.
Nothing could have been further from what happened, and this is where the nightmare really began. 3 months into this process, they finally had a locator for me. The manager from the subcontracted company called and told me that my locator, Ron, was finishing up a job in Las Vegas and would be in town that Thursday or Friday to do my job, and to be ready to do site inspections on those days. I set those days aside, but nobody ever called me.
Ron finally called the next Wednesday to report that he was in Texas finishing up another job, and would be coming this weekend. I told him what his manager had told me previously, and he said "uh, there must have been a mixup somewhere". During that conversation, he asked what cities I was interested in. I told him. He mentioned several locations that he had talked to previously that were very far away from me. I told him I would consider them for the future, but that for these 5 machines I wanted the 4 cities I'd given him.
Ron called me again on Saturday, and said he had my locations. I was happy, because that was several days before he'd told me they would be ready. I asked him where they were, and he listed off the sites he had previously mentioned that were far away from me, and none in the cities I had asked for. All he did was get in town and call me with 5 locations he had previously secured, that were nowhere near the area that I wanted. When I told him (again) where I wanted them, he gave me attitude, and said his job was to find me good sites regardless of location. He clearly had not even looked in the areas that I wanted him to, and was put off that I was asking him to do so rather than accepting his pre-chosen locations and making it easy on him.
When I finally met this Ron character, my "professional locator" was dressed in ratty jeans, a white undershirt, and his hair wasn't combed. He looked like a total bum, so of course only the lowliest sites would even listen to him. He did somehow finally find me 4 decent locations, although it took a day of fighting with him because he absolutely would not listen and kept finding terrible sites WAY out of the area I wanted.
I paid him for those 4, and he said he'd hit it again the next day. 5 days went by, and I called him to see what in the world the holdup was. HE WASN'T EVEN IN THE STATE ANYMORE!! He had gone to Texas to take care of two other jobs. When I pointed out to him that he had left in the middle of my job and hadn't even bothered to tell me, he said "oh, my bad". I then told him I wanted to talk to his supervisor, and he hung up on me. Never heard from him again, and his supervisor never called.
I never did get the 5th location, and to wrap this long story up, after several more months of e-mailing, calling, and threatening action (a BBB complaint, filing a formal complaint with the vending company, the attorney general in their area, etc.), they agreed to send me a refund check. Surely that was the end of it, right? Nope. The check never arrived, and another month or so went by of me e-mailing and calling them. Finally I gave up and sent them a final email saying that I was filing a BBB complaint that day. Stephen Baird then called me and said he had the check in hand and was mailing it.
Bottom line...this company is horribly incompetent at best, and a total scam at worst! This was one of the biggest nightmare experiences of my life, and I want to do my part to warn others. Stay away from this company! They will steal your money and make you all these promises, then do nothing for you and hide from you when you try to contact them. They are cowards and thieves, and horribly dishonest. I also have a suggestion for anyone reading this who has had similar issues with APS.
In addition to filing a complaint with the BBB, etc., contact your vending company like I did and file a formal complaint. APS gets probably 99% of their business from large vending companies that send them referrals. These companies need to know that APS is scamming people. Send them e-mails, letters, whatever, and let them know that you hold them partly responsible! APS needs to be shut down, and that's the only way it is going to happen.