Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beware Strangers Bearing Gifts

In the past two days I've been surprised to arrive home and find "gifts". Little boxes of things that I did not order that came without charge to me....or so I thought.

The first was a small sample product of skincare. Did my cousin - who works in the industry - put me on a list? Did I somehow get a free gift with purchase? Who gives things away like this? I dropped the samples on the counter and didn't think anything else about it.

The next day, a bigger box arrived and I opened it to find software for starting an internet business...hmmmm...I definitely didn't order this? Where is this stuff coming from?

I looked more closely at the invoice of the beauty products and found while the items were free, they charged me shipping. Then I read through the software agreement and found that even accessing their website could be seen as activating my account.

Hubby and I checked the internet and found both companies had complaints against them for "aggressive marketing". Then we checked our accounts and realized we had three unauthorized charges. Now, while those charges only amounted to about $23.00 in total, it's always annoying at the least, and alarming at the most, to see someone accessing your funds. We were also puzzled by the fact that my nickname was on the invoice and shipping labels, but our accounts all have my formal name? How did they get the nickname?

Our first call this morning was to the bank to cancel our debit card. Not tremendously convenient to have to do that 3 days before vacation, but we needed to nip it in the bud. Then I began calling the phone numbers on our debit statement.

Call #1: They wanted my phone number. I refused to give it. They insisted they could not look up the account without it. I said, I'll give you my name (rank, serial number), but not phone number. They settled for zip code and found the account. (The rep then snottily read off my phone number to me as if to say, Nah Nah, even though you wouldn't give it to me I have it hear anyway...bitch.)

They informed me that I had accepted an offer from "Platinum Rewards" on a phone call to my office number (aha! the nickname source becomes clear, as I always answer my desk phone with my name) that afforded me a free gas card or wal-mart gift card if I said ok to trying three products. (Note - I had three strange charges on my account). I insisted I had NEVER said yes to those offers. I typically refuse....and sometimes just hang up mid-offer. They said they would cancel my account, investigate the offer and have a recording of the call pulled. You can bet your ass I'm calling back in 10 days to hear that recording.

Call #2: A recording that their system is down, please call back later. And believe me I will.

Call #3: I don't even know what this company was, but they told me I had signed up for two service accounts. No I didn't. Yes you did. No, I really didn't. Yes you did. No, I'm telling you I didn't. Apparently they have a record that I received a call and accepted the offer. Nope, said I. Yes, said they. Ok, I said, there is such a thing as human error and there is such a thing as fraud. You take your pick, but I did NOT accept this offer. It's not human error and it's not fraud, was the retort. Well, then, I want to hear a recording of the call. (moment of silence). That won't be necessary, we'll credit your account. Victory. All for $4.95.

At this point my blood pressure feels like it is through the roof. But I feel a small sense of justice that I didn't just blow off the $23.00 but went after it like it was my LAST $23.00. And so, dear reader, my advice to you is beware of strangers bearing gifts. Stick to your guns, no matter how small the offense (or dollar amount). And kick some scamming butt.


Anonymous said...

Good for you! There is so much of that type of negative marketing around now that a consumer has to be super-careful and always check credit card statements meticulously. Just imagine if most of the thousands of people who were probably contacted like you were DIDN'T follow through on investigating and cancelling their "orders": even though each indidivual only loses 23$, the company makes 23$ off each one, which will rapidly add up for them, making this a lucrative little scam.

A's Mom said...

Wow, that's ridiculous! Glad you got your money back ... and got to keep the lotion!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That is really distressing. This kind of stuff is ridiculous.

Jodi Anderson said...

Good job getting that cleared up. Somehow, somewhere, someone retrieved our debit/credit card information last year. I was alerted when a computer company called me to ask if I had actually ordered a computer. They stated that they were suspicious of the order. I said that I did not.

I quickly called my bank and found out that a few small charges had first been placed and, if you don't know already, these people often do a few small transactions to see if it goes unnoticed. Then, as in my case, they start going in for the big money.

It sounds like you had a different scenerio. Regardless of all my babbling, I'm just glad that you found out before your account was depleted ... and before your vacation no less.

I also wanted to thank you for the comment at The Women's Colony. I still have you on my feed reader, but I just haven't been commenting much at all anywhere. I always read though. So, anyhow, hi! It's nice to talk with you again.

Kate Hanley said...

Good for you. It's getting so credit cards are just not worth it anymore. They are more trouble then they are worth.

Gypsy Lala said...

Ya, this trick starts to play in Singapore now...I must be careful.