• Report: #48133
Complaint Review:


  • Submitted: Wed, March 05, 2003
  • Updated: Thu, April 03, 2003

  • Reported By:New Cumberland Pennsylvania
WWW.DAMARK.COM Nationwide U.S.A.


*UPDATE EX-employee responds: The truth behind Provell/Damark.......

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I just opened my VISA bill, which should have a zero balance right now. To my surprise, there was a charge for $104.99, from a company I never even heard of!

Here is a photo of part of my credit card statement. This is a picture of a fraudulent charge.

Right away I called the 800 number that was on my bill. (1-800-566-8640). I knew something was wrong when I heard "Press 2 if you are inquiring about charges on your credit card statement." Hmm...I assume they get this question a lot! So I pressed 2, and some guy got on the phone and verified my information. At this point, I'm scared, because I never gave my info to this company. Then, right away he says, "Okay, I 'll have the charges reversed and thank you for calling membership services."

"Wait!" I yelled. He didn't even ask me what the problem was...just promised to reverse the charges. "Hold on sir, what is this company, what do you do, and why have I been charged?"

I could tell his answer was from a script. "Well we are MEMBERSHIP SERVICES, and it appears you signed up for a membership and your free trial is over."

I was so confused.

"Well, at this point we've reversed the charges which will take place immediately, thank you for calling membership services. click.

So, at this point it's 10:45 est., my bank is closed. I just got done reading a bunch of reports on the DAMARK fraud, and I have no clue what to do next. Should I close my account to be safe? I remember reading somewhere that if DAMARK didn't have audio proof you agreed to the charges, that they would pay you double what they charged you. Is this true? I guess I'll keep searching the 'net...

As far as "buyers beware"...I never bought anything! All I know is if you see DAMARK on your statement...call them right away!!!

New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/05/2003 08:58 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/damark/nationwide/damark-fraudulent-charges-i-have-never-even-heard-of-demark-internet-48133. 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.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

The truth behind Provell/Damark.......

AUTHOR: George F - (U.S.A.)


My name is George and I am an ex Call Center Team Lead for Provell Inc a sub. of Damark International. There have been a lot of things said about this company, but all in all the company wasn't that bad. It takes working there I guess, and hearing both sides to understand. The origin I guess would be the easiest way to start for those interested.

The base company was originally a catalog sales company named COMB that was taken over by Damark International. Memberships at that point were a small part of the company, simply being offered during sales calls inbounded to the company. We offered discount memberships, budget saving programs, and of course magazine subscriptions. The company doing well, but not great, found that it needed a way to expand...the decision then came to create a seperate entity in Click Ship Direct. That was one of the so called name changes to avoid getting in trouble.

What people don't understand is that a name change does nothing to avoid bad situations....it was a change to independence. The call centers that Damark had employed to handle there volume decided to try and go independent.

We took calls on behalf of Damark for sales, Provell memberships, and even Wedgewood Golf. They chose to go independent though at a great cost. A more than 40 million dollar warehouse was built to support the new business that sent CSD in the red, but farther in the red then expected. Even after being given an award by Best Buy for fulfillment, we were unable to pull in enough clientel to maintain our independent centers. At this point we were bought out entirely by Provell Inc. Provell was the strictly membership portion of Damark International. That's the story of the company and it's name changes....

Now in a business sense one of the easiest ways to make money is by providing a much needed service rather than a product, thus memberships became more profitable than item sales, and the shift from a catalog company to a membership company ensued. Unfortunately the company did hit a few entanglements...we were not the one's actually doing any of the outbounded calling to customers.

The calls were being made on behalf of peoples credit card companies, on behalf of other catalogs they shopped from, etc., by several companies we hired to do the work. This proved a negative at first, because of lack of proof to substantiate that a customer did authorize a charge, thus we entered into an agreement with the Attorny General of Minnesota to begin recording all outbounded calls and document the verbal agreements.

If a customer that was contacted claimed unauth, then we would give them a full refund either way, search for the tape, and play it for them...if we were deemed incorrect in charging the account, then we would give a double refund. In my experience though I'd say that about 99% of everyone that claimed unauth, actually did authorize the charge...it's amazing how upset and vulgar people would act, and then how dumb founded they were when we did play the tape...I got very few apologies, a lot of hang ups, and a few that's not me's...

Provell used a few other methods to offer programs though, which people can easily do and not really pay attention....they sent out direct mailers to potential customers with checks saying cash me and start saving money with a new program free to try for however long....And people will just cash them without reading the terms....those were the ones that claimed unauth and demanded a double refund because we didn't have a recording.....drrrrrrrrr......Memberships to our company were even offered when placing phone calls with other catalog companies......and on some websites....you know where you register online for a new site or are just browsing through one, and then it asks you to push okay or i agree to go to the next page, well look at what was checkmarked as far as interests, etc....we had several programs started by simple clicks of the mouse...again someone not taking time to read the terms....

Provell as far as how the programs were offered I believe was one of the most credible out there....I will admit though, that they made it difficult to get money back at times, and I don't feel that they concentrated enough on customer care, unless it was for a high paying client, but all in all a good experience for me.

Towards the end of my tenure though I noticed those trend getting worse. Because the company had entered into financial problems with the buy out of CSD, they began harsh tactics to try and pro-rate programs more, make the refund process more difficult, create more loop holes, and find ways to use the terms and conditions against the customers.

The financial problems were too great for the company though, and they filed a Ch 11 bankruptcy and eventually closed the only remaining call center, which is where I worked and trained agents on retention techniques. All in all I'd say that I enjoyed my job, the people I worked with and the environment.

If it wasn't for the fact that Provell had entered into some bad financial problems and began having severe problems with there fulfillment (which caused problems with getting auth tapes from vendors...we had to pay extra to maintain the tape recordings and get them...hard to do when your in the negative), I think that a great deal more of the customers would have either had a better experience, or had a lot less to say on this site.
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