I received an unsolicited phone call from an Angela Goodwin in October of 2008. She was selling advertising on place mats that were purportedly used at a chain of local restaurants. The price was reasonable and I decided to place the ad. Initially, she told me that it would be $69 for one year. By the time I got the "agreement" the price had jumped to $199.95. She told me that the increase was to put the ad in all 5 locations in the area. She was a good sales woman and I ended up agreeing.
I emailed her the ad I wanted placed and a charge showed up on my credit card. In January 2009, I received a "copy of ad proof" that was not what I had submitted. I contacted the "company" and was told that I'd missed the deadline and that they had to design the ad themselves. I argued with the very rude "Bill" and he said that if I sent the ad I wanted, he would get it in. I did this and never got a confirmation. I sent repeated emails and got nothing. When I called, I got the run around. I was told a print version would be sent to me. It never was.
Meanwhile, another charge for 49.95 showed up on my credit card. I called and was told that it was an ad set up fee. I pointed out that I had designed the ad and that my "agreement" showed that "set-up fees" had been waived. "Bill" said he would look into it and try and get me a credit. I never got the credit.
Frustrated, I let it go, thinking I would get some business off the ads. Then, in September 2009, I was charged $229.90 from "Nationwide Marketing" in Springfield. I immediately called and left a message and followed up with an email. I explained that I had not authorized auto renewal. I finally reached "Bill" by phone and he very rudely started a "schpill" about doing me a service to protect my advertising, blah, blah, blah.
He then told me I needed to have sent a signed cancellation letter 30 days prior to the renewal deadline. I said that I had no agreement stating this policy. He insisted that I had signed such an agreement and that he couldn't be responsible for "what I kept and what I threw away". I told him I would send the letter immediately and to go ahead and credit my account. He told me that he couldn't guarantee that I would get the money refunded as ads had already been printed. This was patently false! The ad I supposedly purchased was supposed to run for 12 months and 12 months had yet to expire. No way that $229.90 was for ads already run.
I told him not to concern himself as I had already disputed the charge with my bank. He said that he "won 70% of these disputes" and that he would send it "to collections". I won't bore you with how ugly he became, let's just say that I hung up in a rage.
His comment about the 70% set off alarms, so I got on-line and started doing a little research only to discover that I am not the first person to be duped. I then called the restaurants that I supposedly had advertised with and they had no such placemats in their places of business. The whole thing is a scam.
I will be contacting a lawyer and would be interested in talking to others who have had similar experiences with Angela and Bill (not to mention the unsavory woman who answers the phone). Perhaps a class action lawsuit is in order.
Footnote: After reading this blog, I will be contacting the AG in Illinois. Do you feel it would be beneficial to attempt any other contact with the aforementioned fraudulent company? My instincts tell me to take it to the authorities. I have contacted a lawyer and am awaiting a reply to my query of a class action lawsuit.
If you go to [redacted].com, you will find 11 more complaints under "nationwide advertising". No telling how many more are out there. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you are interested in joining forces to put these crooks out of business (and maybe behind bars).