I would like to get some information out to consumers who have been having issues with the company United Marketing Group. I feel the need to get this information out anonymously as my current employer makes it a requirement of my job to offer programs from this company, even though I realize that UMG is a fraudulent business.
In regards to offers made by agents when calling in on catalogs for The Company Store, Company Kids, Domestications, Silhouettes, And Undergear/International Male, Programs are offered at the end of the sale for programs called Buyers Edge, Perfect Home, or The Travel and Entertainment Club. These three programs are run by a company called United Marketing Group, or more simply, UMG. These programs are offered by the above catalogs due to contract with UMG and should not reflect the company Hanover Direct as we have no control over how UMG conducts their business. We just contract with them to offer the product.
The call center reps of companies who have a contract with United Marketing Group have to sign an agreement that we will offer these programs when prompted by our respective computer systems, and that failure to do so can be grounds for termination of the offending employee. So I ask that the customer's who are having difficulties with UMG to please not take it out on the sales rep that initially made the offer, as it it more than likely a requirement of their job.
Let me explain how the customer is initially set up for the program. When the offer is made, there are terms and conditions that are required to be read. You can tell which ones these are as they sound the most obviously scripted. When a customer is offered one of these programs, they are given approximately two weeks to receive the program. This is where customers usually hit their first snag. The package for UMG can be easily confused as junk mail, and customers often thrown the packet away without thinking about it. Just because the customer says they never received the package does not stop the program. The 30 day trial period clock keeps ticking.
The next part of the terms and conditions are that the customer must call the 800 number for UMG to cancel that program. I myself have heard mixed results with this, as the reps are told that it is supposed to be a "No-Hassle Cancellation, " but apparently isn't always so when speaking to the UMG reps. If the customer does not call to cancel during the trial period, per the terms and conditions that they agreed to when signing up for the program, they are automatically charged $99 for the program for the year's membership. This fee does automatically renew, so you cannot assume that it will just run for the year and cancel out. The part where they get you is that if they do charge you the $99, you will not recover that full amount as UMG will only issue a pro-rated refund on that charge.
A lot of customers sign up for a UMG program to claim what they believe to be $50 in prepaid gas cards (at least at my call center, that is the incentive for signing up with UMG). What the customer usually is not aware of is that the gas cards are not included in the package. The customer has to fill out a couple of claim forms to receive the gas cards which come in increments of $25. Just to get the first gas card in the mail takes almost as long if not longer than the trial period itself. A lot of customers are not aware of that unless they ask the rep specifically. When it comes down to it, you're really not getting something for nothing folks! Do you really think it is a sound business practice to just hand out $50 in gas cards all ay on a program that charges $99? No business could exist under those conditions, unless I missed something in my high school economics class.
How does UMG get the information for you credit card? That is one I am not 100% certain on, so I would have to make an educated guess. When you place an order with a company, most companies such as mine will retain credit card info for the convenience of customers who do repeat business (Just to ease customers peace of mind, we do not retain the card ID number. We have to have that entered in new each time an order is placed.) I have had customers calling in about why they were charged $99 to their account, so I can only assume that when a customer accepts a UMG program, that we charge that $99 to the customer and send the money to UMG in return for a financial kickback to our company. Otherwise what would be the profitability of 3rd parties to offer UMG programs in the first place?
What I am now going to let you know is a way to sidestep the whole UMG offer. This part is the biggest reason I am going to stay anonymous because I could potentially cost multiple businesses a lot of money. You do have the right with any business to opt out of being offered the UMG program and that you do not want to hear the offer. If you make this clear at the beginning of the call, the rep is then required to either mark the upsell as either "rejected" or "not offered" and 9 times out of 10 will not offer the program (we still get to have the 1 in 10 chance of offering because we are human too, and sometimes forget on the longer orders. Please don't take it personally) We also are obligated to set it in our system to not offer that customer any more UMG programs at that point. And any call made to a call center is recorded, so they have it coming out of your own mouth that you don't want to be offered that. This is also how those of you who say you never signed up for the program and were still charged can get out of the charge. If you didn't accept the offer, then that was recorded, and call centers do have the ability to pull the recording from that call and listen to the transaction as it happened.
I hope that this has given you an insight into how the UMG machine works, as well as to have given you a solution as to how to handle any UMG offers that may be made to you. If you follow these steps, you can send a message to United Marketing Group to clean up their practice without placing the poor call center rep who's just doing his job out of a job. We don't make a lot of money doing our job, but most of us do love our work and just want to be able to pay our own bills too.
If any customers were defrauded by UMG because of any offers that I made while placing your orders, you have my most sincere apologies, and hope that you don't take it personally against me.