Ask Now Psychics Predatory Business Practices, Bait & Switch, Deceptive Advertising Internet
I should say up front that my reader was exceptional and perhaps one of the most accurate readers I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with.
However, the Ask Now business itself is predatory. I was offered three free minutes -- in addition to my pre-paid time -- to speak to my favorite reader. I budgeted my time to make sure that I would not go beyond that time.
However, after my pre-paid minutes had been used, an automated voice broke in to say: You will now begin talking at the per-minute rate (of $6/plus per minute).
At this point it became clear that the service had not applied the free minutes I was offered to call this specific reader.
I called Ask Now Customer Service to confirm that my free minutes were applied to that call as promised as per their email offer.
Customer Service informed me that I would not be credited for that time since i did not click on a clock in the email box in order to activate the free minutes. However, the email which offered me the free minutes did not instruct me to click on a clock or make my free minutes conditional on following a set of instructions to activate them.
Instead, the email informed me that I would have three free minutes to apply to my next call to that reader.
I requested that Customer Service honor its agreement with me, understanding that this was an honest mistake and that I had called in good faith, but Ask Now refused.
Ask Now made a number of excuses why it couldn't honor the offer, citing issues with their computer system, that it could not refund minutes offered by an individual reader.
I then offered what I thought was a reasonable, fair and honest solution -- that I might be able to get the time/money refunded to me by contesting charges with my credit card, thereby allowing them to honor the free minutes and for me to be credited for that time.
Arguing over a minor amount of money, Ask Now then informed me that if I contested charges -- ie, enforced the coupon offered to me through its very own email system by its own contractor-- that my account would be immediately terminated. To me, this amounted to emotional blackmail. I expect that Ask Now banks on the fact that many callers are addicted to readings and would submit to unauthorized billing over losing their cherished reader. This is the choice offered: accept improper billing in violation of offers provided by the service to generate business/inspire me to call or be banned. While I adore my reader, who is incredibly gifted, I was not prepared to allow this company to take advanage of me in this fashion.
Even worse, Ask Now informed me that if my bank called to query about the charges, my private call to my reader would played for the bank to hear so that the bank official could hear the length of the call. Talk about coercion and blackmail. Couldn't Ask Now just tell the bank that I had spoken for x minutes? My dispute wasn't the number of minutes but rather that Ask Now had not credited my time as per its offer to me.
I informed Ask Now that I would hang up and consider how best to proceed in light of thier company policies.
After I hung up, I decided that I did not wish to give my business to a company which engages in predatory business practices, false advertising, and other illegal and unethical tactics. I decided that it would be best to close my account and request a full refund even though I absolutely trust and value this reader.
Literally seconds later, I called Now Customer Service backequest a refund and to have my account closed only to discover that Ask Now had blocked my calls to their Customer Service, preventing me from giving them instructions,confirming that my charges had been canceled, or requesting that my account closed.
Ask Now also misrepresented its process -- telling me what steps would be taken if I contested charges and preemptively blocked me before I even decided to cancel my account and before my bank even contacted them to inquire about their error.
Bear in mind, I was not rude, aggressive, hostile, or belligerent in my call. I merely offered a query of why the free minutes offered to me were not applied ot my account and to discuss options on how we could resolve this error.
While I will miss and regret losing my great reader, I cannot give my business to a company which engages in fraud, dishonest, deceptive practices, refuses to do right by clients, and which treats it clients with such contempt.
If someone expresses concern or merely raises a question of why this company hadn't honored offers given to clients, however politely they are raised, Customer Service becomes belligerent, hostile, and immediately blocks the client's phone number -- even preventing the patron from being able to speak to Customer Service again to follow up on issues raised -- a tactic I consider fundamentally dishonest, suspicious, and unprofessional.
I was further alarmed that Ask Now threatened to share my private reading (allow third parties -- my bank -- to hear it), which they claim they had recorded if I proceeded to contest charges. Do you know that Ask Now maintains a recording of your private reading?
Bear in mind, I wasn't contesting charges because I didn't want to pay or had said something improper -- but rather that the company offered me free time for that call and then refused to honor the offer, charging me nearly $7 a minute for something which was free. I budgeted my time to correspond with my pre-paid minutes and free time offered.
Only the free time offered would have been contested -- as I had made the call with the express understanding that this time would be free and applied to the call -- only to discover afterwards, in the face of many excuses -- that the company did not honor their offer, thereby engaging in deceptive advertising and making offers to generate business which it had no intention of honoring.
If the company had done right by me (for a very small amount of money), it would have continued to receive my monthly fee and retained a loyal, grateful customer.
Instead, they attempted to take money from me through deceptive practices, and then immediately blocked me for asking about it. This service has nothing but contempt for its clients and puts illicit profits above service.
The company has also betrayed its contractor by costing her a valued and loyal client by immediately and preemptively terminating my account over an honest query and misunderstanding. ( I acted in good faith and as per the terms offered.)
There were many ways to have resolved this problem fairly, especially given that only a small amount of money was involved and that it was an honest mistake. They could have allowed me to contest charges for the small amount of time in question to obtain a refund for that time. They also could have communicated with the reader to see if she would accept a refund of the time/money for this period. They could have offered a one time credit or even escalated the matter to a manager who could have offered a reasonable solution.
Who would expect that an email informing you that you have just received 3 free minutes for a call to a reader required additional actions to activate those minutes (translation: excuse for the company not to honor them or to trick prospective clients into spending more money towards a reading than they intended.)
WHat the company did in my view was illegal. They offered free minutes towards a specific call and then billed me anyway for that time -- and then blocked me immediately afterward, when questioned on it, implying guilt and culpability. THere were no instructions anywhere on that email informing me of additional actions which needed to be taken in order to be active them. The email stated that the minutes were available and would be applied to my next call.
Blocking me prematurely also enabled Ask Now to ensure that I could not obtain copies of those emails, which documented the offer to me.
After my account was abruptly terminated, I was put in the position of having to call Ask Now through a second phone number to confirm that the money had been refunded and that the account had been closed.
When asked why my number had been blocked, Ask Now Customer Service informed me that notes on my account falsely portrayed that I had threatened to contest charges, when I had merely raised this as an option. I never demanded the minutes be refunded on threat of contesting charges. I merely offered this as a way in which both parties could be satisifed -- me, paying only for the time I had agreed and understood, based on the emaijl coupon, and the company an opportunity to honor its agreement and keep a customer.
Ask Now demonstrated a complete lack of ethics and customer service in how they handled my concerns. I also believe their practices are illegal for the reasons outlined above.