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Distinct Advantage / It's a scam, pure and simple!

1 United States Review updated:

I received a phone call telling me I was eligible for various free offers, including $400 in airfare, which as someone who will be visiting Canada soon and is on a very low budget, interested me but also made me a bit suspicious. The salesperson was extremely pushy and wouldn't take no for an answer. They told me there was an ongoing commitment ($150 up front plus $50 a month, or something) and that made me uncomfortable, but I was assured that, once I received their package in the mail, I could cancel easily and keep the free offers. Moreover, I was not supposed to be charged until two weeks after receiving the package. So I shrugged and said yes, as the salesperson made this the path of least resistance; I figured maybe there'd be a coupon or two I could use.

I have not received the package, and in fact it's only been about two weeks since I got this call. Yet this week they billed me for $60 I never agreed to at all, and attempted to bill me the $150 in addition, but were thwarted because their first charge had reduced my bank balance to zero. (They had also made a long-distance offer I should mention. I received a calling card, and called to cancel that service, without incident... so far). It turns out this is a well-known scam (see, for example, http://32584.com/articles/2006/07/31/distinct-advantage-is-a-scam). There are many different names this company goes by, all of which are traceable to a small telemarketing office in Florida going by the above Suntasia name. I am not the first person to not receive the package (in fact, I now suspect it doesn't exist) nor the first person to be charged for something over and above what he agreed to. This is a scam, pure and simple.

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  • Di
      4th of Oct, 2006
    0 Votes
    Distinct Advantage - Scam unsuspecting consumers
    United States

    I received a call from a female customer service rep who informed me that I had won $400.00 in aa vouchers for future travel and a gift card valid for the purchase of gasoline just for using my banking debit card. The agent then asked me for my banking routing number and I immediately informed her that I was not interested. I hung up the line and called information for the Tampa/St Pete area as I recalled the exchange of 727. I was given a number in the Miami area and was asked right off the bat if i had given any banking information. The representative informed me that a bogus company was using their name of distinct advantage to scam unsuspecting consumers. She then gave me their phone number and I called. I informed the person that I would be contacting the attorney general's office, the bbb and anybody else that I could think of. This just happened this morning and I am still seeing red.

  • Kl
      16th of Nov, 2006
    0 Votes

    Distinct Advantage company has a very rude woman operator that wouldn't even tell me what her company was about, but has the gall to call me. I had to look up the company online to see what was going on.

  • Lo
      26th of Nov, 2006
    0 Votes

    ANOTHER ALERT ON SUNTASIA MARKETING!

    Yes folks you read right AGAIN! This is becoming a frightening pattern with this company. The following alert comes from the Better Business Bureau website at:
    http://www.thelocalbbb.com/alerts/alerts.html?newsid=882&newstype=1

    This is the latest press release that came out a few days ago.

    CURRENT ALERT:

    Suntasia Marketing Targeting Area with Deceptive Calls
    Date: November 13, 2006

    Suntasia Marketing Targeting Area with Deceptive Calls
    Company Saying “You’ve Won a Vacation,” Quoting Personal Info

    Spokane, WA. - November 13, 2006 - An elderly woman from Spokane received a call a couple nights ago from Travel Agents Direct. The person calling was named Arthur Holden, and the number displayed on her Caller ID was 877-777-2709, and yet the number the telemarketer left for her to call was 727-683-1112.

    When she tried a call to the 877# number, a voice recording stated that “this is a call to which long distance charges apply, please dial “1? first.

    The telemarketer was offering 2 nights anywhere in the US, and airfare up to $500 on American Airlines for a shipping and handling fee of $1.95.

    The elderly woman said, “NO, I do not give you permission to take money out of my account,” to which the telemarketer said they already HAD her account number. They proceeded to read her CORRECT banking info off, both her routing and account number.

    The elderly woman, with her adult child, went to the bank immediately to report this activity, and the bank is watching her account for any unauthorized activity.

    Scary, or what? And who, exactly is this company, anyway?

    BBB investigations came to find that the long distance number given for this company is directly linked to Suntasia, a marketing group for vacation packages/promotions and long distance service located at 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL, 33771-3832, Web site: www.suntasia.com

    This company has amassed 160 complaints as of the release of this alert, and based on BBB West Florida files, this company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to failure to respond to one or more complaints and two or more unresolved complaints. However the business has resolved most complaints presented to the Bureau.

    This company also has an unsatisfactory record due to a pattern of complaints concerning misrepresentation and sales practices, unauthorized billing and credit issues, refund disputes and delivery issues.

    This company has responded to some complaints regarding such companies as, but not limited to, FreeStuffForYou, Imperial Majesty, Paradise Vacations, Membership Services, Capital Travel, Capital Vacations, Two Talk Communications, and Travel Agent Network (TAN).

    End of Alert.

  • Lo
      29th of Nov, 2006
    0 Votes

    UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA WARNS IT’S STUDENTS ABOUT DISTINCT ADVANTAGE AND OTHER PROGRAMS THAT ARE PROMOTED BY SUNTASIA MARKETING!

    The following alert is from the University of Virginia website.

    Scams from new sources:

    11/15/06 - Be aware of a phone scam. The caller is claiming that the person has won a gift from their financial institution for being a member or customer in good standing.

    We know of these calls being placed from the “727? area code. In the past, this group has used the business names of Distinct Advantage, Freedom Gold, and Capital Vacations. Do NOT give your account number, social security number, bank name or any other personal or financial information in response to any unsolicited phone call.

    End of Alert.

    This is now the 8th alert sent out on this company by different sources in the last few months. Six alerts came from banking institutions while the other two came from the BBB and UVA.

    If you want to read the UVA warning yourself, click below.

    http://www.wise.virginia.edu/oit/security/scams.html

  • Ma
      16th of Dec, 2006
    0 Votes
    Distinct Advantage - Harassing phone calls!
    United States

    I keep getting calls telling me, I made a purchase with my checking account and they are going to send me free gifts. I asked person who she was and what was this all about, she told me she couldn't help me, she worked in shipping dept and I had to call 1-877 777-2709 and someone there would tell me. I called that number and a message comes on that says hold on, I will connect you, but no one comes on. I hung up in 3 seconds. I am sick of these calls, How do I stop them.

  • La
      23rd of Dec, 2006
    0 Votes
    Distinct Advantage - Continues to withdraw money from my account!
    United States

    Over a year age i was offered a free trail for the distinct advantage program (package). it arrived late (two days before the date it had printed to charge my account). the customer service rep. lied about the day it was mailed (one of the envelopes had the date stamped, over a week later than the date the rep. says was in the computer. i cancelled the service without trying it out because i was mad at the deceit. a couple of months later i notice i had large charges on my bank notice. i realize it had to be this company because i had not given anyone else permission to auto withdraw. i called both branches (distinct advantage and freedom gold and cancelled again, i also auto cancelled teleflix. a few months later i noticed high charges that coincide with the amount to be withdrawn for teleflix (distinct advantage phone system). i could not find the phone number and was unable to locate the company (teleflix) through the internet, google, or information. several months went by and i was able to find the distinct advantage number and request the teleflix number and cancel it for the second time. now several months later i notice a small charge on my account that i could not account for. i requested a printed check and behold - distinct advantage. i am tired and frustrated and angry at the continued abuse of my limited finances. when i cancel a membership i expect the company to stop taking my money.

  • Lo
      28th of Dec, 2006
    0 Votes
    Distinct Advantage - Lied about free trial
    United States

    I was told on the phone that I had a 30 free trial membership that wouldn't start for 2 weeks after the phone call so that there would be time for it to come in the mail. Unfortunately I believed him, and being during the holidays, didn't open the info right away. So now, a few days after Christmas, I open it, and low and behold, it's too late, they have already charged me. In fact they charged me about the day I received the package, and guess what?, there was no 30 days. Apparently only 14 days from the day of the phone call. They have charged my account a total of $200.00, which by the way I cannot afford. They LIED to me. I am going to the "Consumer Protection Agency with this. I hope that anyone else who falls for their lies does the same. It's not difficult, just google Consumer Protection Agency, and you will find it. Good Luck !!!

  • Am
      7th of Jan, 2007
    0 Votes

    I am student in America and i came from India i received a call from them and i did not know that people can take money from my account by routing no. because i did not do any banking before and i just paid by debit card i received the call they told me the same thing after some days i saw that freedom gold charged me 149 dollars and i was so worried that who charged me this money then i went to my nearest bank and they said me that you have given your account information so can't help you out and you have to call the company and ask for the refund bank did not help me at all then i started calling company and i cancelled my account and ask for refund after some days i saw that company name distinct advantage charged me 59.95 dollars i got worried again and then i went to bank and i closed my account and then i started calling company and asked for the refund and they said me we will give you refund by check so they send check and i got my money back . if you have got charged on your account then ask for the refund and they will give your money back by check if somebody just got charged first of all just close your account because you will not close then they will charge again and again by using different companies name and then ask for refund when you will call them it will take some time when you will be connected with the represented then you say i just want my money to be refunded they will offer you some other good deal but don't accept anything from them otherwise they will charge you again just ask for the refund then they have to send your money back by check.

  • Sh
      13th of Jan, 2007
    0 Votes
    Distinct Advantage - Don't trust unknown phone call and don't land up giving your private information
    United States

    I received a call this morning from a person who had all my information about the place where is live and also had my banks routing no. He said that my information he got from some of their marketing partner. He said that I will be receiving free gift and some gas station card of around $400. Then he asked me my banks name and my account no. I asked him; I don't know who are you so I can't give you my account number. He convinced me that there's no harm in giving the account number because whenever anyone gives check than on the check there's always an account number and routing number. So, I thought I would be safe to give him the account no. I landed up giving him the number. Then he started asking me question about all my information right from my name to my account number and asked me to confirm it by saying YES. I simply hung up the phone because he was asking me the information and confirming it. I told him, if you have my information than u repeat and I'll confirm with you..He said that he want to confirm from my mouth. So I simply hung up the phone. He had also given my a phone number to call back in need. The number he gave was 877-777-2709. Please be aware of this sort of number and this kinda people who calls you and asks for your information. Just don't give your information to anyone whom you don't know in person. No matter whatever they try to convince you but it is depend on you; I'll suggest to just hanged down the phone. The name of the company was "Distinct Advantage".

  • Me
      27th of Jan, 2007
    0 Votes
    Distinct Advantage - Charged me after I cancelled their free trial
    United States

    In frustration I told the PUSHY solicitor on the phone I would look at their packet,he went on to say something about a credit card as well.To this I told him,no way was I interested.Bottom line,the day I received their packet I called the number in the packet,they gave me another number to call.I called and cancelled.Two or three months later,I start having payments taken out of my checking account.I called again today to cancel.I was asked if I was given a code.No,neither time was I given a code.The young man today,Kahm,gave me a code number...how is that little number going to protect me from these scam artists?Today I will close my bank account as I don't trust these people.

  • Lo
      28th of Jan, 2007
    0 Votes

    To Everyone:

    The following information is on Suntasia marketing and its promotions.

    The address where ALL the telemarketing calls originate from is:

    Suntasia Marketing
    8751 Ulmerton Road
    Largo, FL 33771
    Tel#: 727-471-0276 or 1-800-NEW-TEAM

    Website: http://suntasia.com/

    Live calls to your house start with the numbers 727-471-#### or 727-683-####. There are 8 rooms which hold 24 agents in each plus a customer service area. You can actually see what Suntasia looks like on the inside by copying and pasting their website address above to your address bar.

    The programs and the companies they currently promote are:

    Travel Agents Go Direct (may have changed names again)
    Distinct Advantage
    Freedom Gold
    FloridaWay
    Prism Communications

    Here is a list of programs they use to promote:

    Agents Travel Network
    Capitol Vacations
    Florida Passport
    Travel Agency Network
    Teliflex Communications
    VersaTalk

    ALL the companies listed above have an “unsatisfactory” rating with the Better Business Bureau.

    Suntasia Marketing's own Better business report has also FINALLY come out and of course it is no surprise they have an "unsatisfactory" rating.

    The Florida Attorney General is currently investigating them for unfair and deceptive business practices along with illegal debiting of checking accounts for the second time in 6 years. All you have to do is go to myfloridalegal.com and type in the letters “FTN” in the search box to see the report. They have even hired an outside law firm to help them with this mess. That in itself is saying something.

    You can also go to google.com and type “Suntasia Marketing” in the search box to see ALL the sites out there that expose these crooks.

    There are steps you can take to get your money back but it’s up to you to do it and always be persistent.

    The first step you need to take is immediately talk to your bank b/c by law you have sixty days to dispute a charge. Banks are very well aware of these scam artists and can help or work with you to recover the money but you can’t stay sitting at home waiting. The more time that passes the less rights you have to recover any money owed.

    TELL THEM IMMEDIATELY BEFORE ANYMORE CHARGES ARE DEBITED. YOUR BANK WILL CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT AND OPEN UP A NEW ONE.

    Many people were charge for months and the bank was able to refund the last few charges that were made by “SCAM-TASIA”. Don’t go by what the recording said b/c there is no SPECIFIC date when your so called “free” trial starts or ends. Let your bank know this or give them a link to this site so they can see for themselves.

    Next, write Suntasia a “certified” CEASE and DESIST letter to their lawyer Donald Booth if you don’t care to receive any more solicitations from them. Their corporate address is:

    Suntasia Marketing
    8751 Ulmerton Road,
    Largo, FL 33771

    Telephone: (727) 471-0276

    Let him know that you either didn’t get the package or it arrived late and you want a FULL refund b/c you never had a chance for the “free” trial. Also that you are NOT interested in anything else they have to offer other than a refund b/c of the fact that the agents mis-represented themselves totally.

    Also notify him that if he doesn’t comply with your request for the FULL refund you will seek legal action against his company as well as contacting your local media. Trust me they’ve been exposed alot lately on tv and this is the last thing he needs to hear. If you also contact the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint with them it at least assures you that Suntasia will have to respond. This is another thing they don’t like to do. It forces them to give a response to the BBB and thus give back the money owed.

    Third, whether you do or don’t get a response contact your local tv news station anyway. Most news channels in your area have a consumer complaint tip hotline. Go on the net and log on to their site. I know this would be a “juicy” story for them especially during the months of November, February and May b/c of the ratings period. They need uniques stories to get their audiences attention.

    Finally, I suggest you file a complaint with your state attorney generals office and in Florida as well letting them know the situation. The more people get involved the better off we will ALL be.

    I hope this information helps you.

  • Je
      7th of Mar, 2007
    0 Votes

    I received a call claiming a large amount of non-sense (do no recall exactly for it was early January) as the female went on she wanted to verify my bank account number. She knew of my account and was claiming to verify I was actually me after giving her the information which she said was not a big deal for it's right on my checks, if it was private it would be hidden or encoded. Now approximately two months later have received two charges one for $149.00 and another for $59.95. The last one putting my account overdrawn. This is ridiculous and everyone involved deserves jail time. I never finished the phone call, I hung up on the lady a minute or so after giving her my banking information because I knew I was not interested in anything she was saying and assumed she would at least need my consent to charge me for anything, and thus believed I was safe.

  • Lo
      21st of Mar, 2007
    0 Votes

    ATTENTION: ANOTHER BANK ALERT ON SUNTASIA MARKETING!

    Like I have been saying all along, more and more alerts are being sent out by banks, tv new stations as well as the internet about these crooks.

    The alert below was posted recently by Members Plus Credit Union warning it’s customers about Suntasia and it’s umbrella companies like Distinct Advantage, Freedom Gold as well as many others.

    Telephone Scam - BEWARE!

    Members Plus Credit Union has become aware of a fraud scheme which has targeted some of our members. In this scheme a member is called by a marketing firm and led to believe that MPCU hired this firm. They claim that the member will receive free gifts, but that they need to confirm a bank account number. The caller will read off the bank’s routing number, which is public knowledge, and ask the member to provide the account number. The account number can be used to withdraw funds from the victim’s account.

    The calls are usually placed from the “727” area code. In the past, this group has used the business names of Distinct Advantage, Freedom Gold, Capital Vacations, and Suntasia Marketing. Members Plus Credit Union has not hired Distinct Advantage, Suntasia Marketing or any other marketing company to call our customers. You should be very cautious of any free offer made over the telephone. Never give out confidential information such as account numbers, social security numbers or other personal information.

    End of Alert.

    You can see the MPCU posting for yourself by visiting the site at:

    http://www.memberspluscu.org/ASP/whatsnew.asp

    Scroll to the bottom and you will see it.

  • Dr
      16th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes
    Distinct Advantage - Illegal withdrawal from checking account
    United States

    I just reviewed copies of my checks that cleared my bank from March 9th, 2007, and I noticed a copy of a computer-generated check for the amount of $19.95, that I never endorsed, but allowed through my bank, payable to Distinct Advantage. I never ordered anything or even heard of this company ever before!!!

    I do not recall receive any mail from this so-called business and this membership is unwarranted.

    I want my money back and this company out of my personal checking account.

    Signed
    Dreama Rudrow

  • Da
      24th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes

    I received my package on the date of cancellation. When I called the number for customer relations I wastold that they can't cancel my account I had to call another number. When I called the second number I was told that they would have to wait 14 days for my account to clear then I would be cancelled. I inquired as to why it would take that long and was told it is company policy. When I asked to speak to a manager I was told that there weren't any available at that time and was hung up on. I have now been charges two more times that I have noticed.

    After being charged the initial charge (way too much for the services offered), I went to the bank and stopped payment as well blocking them from my account. They got around this by taking out the charges in two installments. Both of which put me into the overdraft charges.

    I called again tonight and told them to cancel me. Tonight I was given a cancellation number and promised a gas voucher for my trouble. I will wait for that to happen and watch for the next payment to be taken out of my account. If this happens I will take legal action.

  • Lo
      30th of Jun, 2007
    0 Votes

    Suntasia recently changed their corporate name to Strategia Marketing, LLC. Now they have a new website with a different name. The only thing is that it's just a copy of the old one. Take a look.

    Suntasia's Website: (former)

    http://www.suntasia.com/

    Strategia's Website: (new)

    http://www.strategia.com/

    The only exception between the two is the different colors on the opening page using black instead of gold but the wording is still the same. If you want to know who runs this crooked empire, copy and paste the link below.

    http://www.strategia.com/home.shtml

    Remember it is STILL the same people, same scam (gas, grocery and travel vouchers), same products just a different name.

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