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Encore Marketing Group / Grocery Voucher Scam

1 Cleveland, OH, United States Review updated:

A co-worker told me of a radio commercial advertising a thousand-dollar grocery voucher. I heard the commercial that very next evening and called the number. The customer service worker told me that his company (gave no company name) was doing research in my area (did not even know where I lived) to see what type of groceries people buy, and that by paying $3.58 shipping & handling over the phone with my credit card, I would receive the voucher in 7 to 14 days. I would also receive a membership to American Leisure and EZ Saver, and I would get a $25 Wal * Mart gift card. I was told that I could cancel these memberships up to 10 days after I received the voucher and the cancellation numbers would be in the packet. This was on a Wednesday night at 11:30PM. After the phone call, I looked up Am-Leisure and EZ Saver online and found complaints about it being a scam. I was suspicious from the beginning. Instead of waiting for the packet, I found some cancellation numbers online and cancelled both (Am-Leisure and EZ Saver) that Friday between 1:30PM - 2:00 PM. I was given a cancellation confirmation number as well and copied that as well as the CS Rep I spoke with (Dolores). Two weeks passed and I never received the grocery voucher (at this point I knew it was a scam so I didn't even care), but I did receive the info for the Wal*Mart gift card and a gas card. A week later I also received something from American True Savings, and these strange long-distance numbers started showing up in my cell phone (which is odd because when I called, I gave them my HOME phone number ONLY. They must have caller ID). I didn't answer and there were no messages left. Two days ago I sent a letter to Encore Marketing along with all of the materials that I received in the mail, explaining which date the membership had been cancelled, so I should have never received the materials. I also included the cancellation confirmation information and thanked them in advance for clearly understanding that I want no membership with them or any of their affiliates.

My co-worker said that she cancelled on the same weekend that I did, but unfortunately noticed a charge of $16.95 on her debit card on May 6. She notified her bank of the situation and they told her that the charge is pending but if it goes through, they will dispute it.

I, on the other hand, have not yet noticed any of those charges on my card yet. I am not going to ask them to refund the $3.58 that was already charged to me, as that will be my lesson learned for falling into a such a silly scam in the first place. However, if I notice any charges from these companies or any of their affiliates on my debit card, I will just cut it into pieces, call the bank and report it stolen and get a new number. After all, no one can charge a number that no longer exists. To everyone reading this, remember one thing: If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS.

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  • Sm
      1st of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    I just heard the commercial in new Orleans and before calling decided to do some research because it sounded too good to be true. I'm glad I came across this page. I just want to say that this definatly sounds like a scam and I'm not even going to try it. For those of you that say it works maybe it does but the radio commercial is definatly
    misleading it doesn't say anything about coupons that you have to pay a portion of the cost. It says a field research is being done to see what products people buy at the grocery store call the number for a gift certificate for $1000. A gift certificate for $1000 to me is a huge difference than $1000 worth of coupons. By the way this is a public message board how do we know you aren't part of this scam. If there where nothing but complait circulating who would be silly enough to fall into your hands.

  • Tr
      3rd of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hi, Smartypants12!

    I am glad that you were able to view negative and positive feedback on my complaint before making your decision. I am also glad that the situation was explained to you exactly the same way that it was explained to me. I was sure that I had not 'made a mistake' before, but I am 1000% sure now.

    You, perhaps, are the most advantaged consumer on here, because you were able to see everyone's responses, good and bad. You (like me) noted that even if it would have worked out, there is a difference between what you heard you were getting and what you would have actually gotten. When a corporation is truly doing the right thing, they don't need to lie. They also have no need to bill you once you have canceled your subscription a month prior.

    I also considered the financial status of each person whom posted something. Maybe the few who lucked out are already in well financial standing. I work hard for the little bit of money I do have and I can't afford to lose anything. It could be, as originally thought by me, that this corporation does actually explain this opportunity the correct way when they advertise in certain neighborhoods and these people were in that specific group, so they were given a true understanding and made their decision based on that. Either way, I hope it continues to work for them.

    Meanwhile, I still sympathize with the higher number of consumers who lost money. I am most thankful that you understand our point of view and hope that you will keep the 'consumers' cause' alive by warning everyone that you know to do some detailed research before they jump into this.

    Thanks again and best of luck to you!

  • Rc
      3rd of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    This ad is also broadcasting here in Cleveland OH. The radio ad says ATS is doing research and will give you a $1000 voucher to shop. Not coupons. I called on Monday 29th and found out about the fee, and had less than $3 in my account. Knowing I would have more on the 1st I said I'd call back. I'd forgotten the name of the company, but I heard it again yesterday and called today. At the same time I looked up the company and found this complaint. I got someone right away who said they were doing "research" in my area(not asking where I was) and that for a payment of $3.98 they would send me a voucher for the $1000 to use to shop for anything but alcohol or tobacco products. Meanwhile I'm reading the complaints. The salesman also said I would have to sign up for two plans, on for roadside assistance and one for ID theft protection. He did say they could be cancelled. But I had read these comments and decided that $1000 worth of coupons is just not the same as a voucher and could lead to way more trouble than I need. I've participated in some legit research and marketing in the past and they never had me sign up with some other "plans". Most don't pay anything, a few have some small remunerations. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Tr
      5th of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings, rcoss2001

    I can't believe this mess is re-circulating in Cleveland! The only difference in what we both heard is the roadside assistance plan and the ID theft protection.

    At any rate, I am ecstatic that you read the complaints AND followed up with research before making your decision. That way you won't ever feel like you were swayed by the complaints and could have possibly gotten a good deal. Personally I feel like you made the right decision.

    Thank you for your post, and please push for anyone that asks you about this to do their research as well, including reading the stories posted on this site.

    Thank you for keeping the 'consumers' cause' alive and best wishes!

  • St
      7th of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    This scam has came to indiana, I am a college student and of course i felt since they were adversting on the local station that the radio who have done it own reasearch before running such commerical, but it down shady to me so i figured if i was to it i would be put on a pre paid card that would not give them access to any of my information( recommend if you any concern about the company your dealing with) anyway back to the story, before i gave this chic the card number i ask for the web site and she inform me that they don't even have one, when i heard that i hung up right away( i mean how can a company that giving away thousands of dollars no even be on the web think about it) and to the 2 or 3 lone storys saying this worked out for them amoung all these complaints sound suspect to me also its easy for oh let say an employee or a owner of a company to write and say it work out for them bottom line if you trace where your money is going don't do it, me being a huge skepic almost got suck in because it comes at such down time in the econemy, but this company is just preying on the counsumer at a weak state.
    now like the person said before there are real market reasearch company that do things like this and i happen to work for one but, we NEVER ask for money .

  • Tr
      20th of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hi, Stacio729

    Good for you! Before you even had to do any research you knew that this sounded... strange to say the least. For them to tell you that they had no Web site was a dead give-away.

    As you pointed out, a prepaid card would give them no access to your information, but it's the principle of being sucked into such a scam that scares me. I can't tell you how good it made me feel to read that you work for a LEGITIMATE company and you were able to steer clear of this situation.

    Please warn everyone at your school, work, friends, relatives, EVERYONE about this and make sure that they do research. After that, if they care to participate that is well and fine, at least you will have done your part to keep the 'Consumers' Cause' alive!

    Best of luck to you always!

  • Co
      23rd of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    "Saving on groceries is full of ###!!! he probably works for the scammers!! Dont give any personal info. I told them my first name, and that was it, they tried to act like it was all cool but i resisted and found this site first!!

  • Tr
      23rd of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    What's up, [censored] Scams!

    One thing is for sure - I see more than a 'handful' of complaints against this situation so I am glad that although there were a few positive reviews, you were able to recognize that something just wasn't right and did some research before the scam '[censored]ed' you!

    Thank you for your post, as it will help to keep other consumers safe as well. Please pass the word on in your hometown and to anyone else and keep the "Consumers' Cause' going.

    Best of luck to you and kudos for not being sucked into what could have turned into a really bad situation!

  • Mo
      30th of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    I heard this commercial and called. When I was told about the 3.90 handling fee, I asked what forms of payment are accepted other than credit and debit cards. The lady said those were the only forms and I said "thanks" and that was that. No way I'm getting suckered into that scam! I live near austin, tx so yes, they are advertising everywhere...isn't this illegal?!??!!

  • Sa
      4th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    I too just called them and then decided to look them up - which was for sure the opposite thing to do!

    I am not really understanding where the "coupons" are coming from - the customer service rep i spoke to said I would be receiving a $1, 000 gift card to spend at the grocery store, no coupons were mentioned and she even said the way they track what we spend is on bar code of the gift card...again no coupons.

    So after reading all these I am doing the smart thing and already reported my credit card stolen so there is no way they can charge or scam me.

    I think there might be two different offers/studies going on here and one is the gift card scam and maybe there is one legit one that they are actually sending out coupons for. But I am pretty sure that the people above that are happy with this service and are using the coupons will be charged in a month on their cards.

  • Tr
      5th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings, mocaloca3 and sarbo

    Both of you did the right thing to do some research and I'm glad you saw all of these posts.

    Mocaloca3, I wish this type of advertising was illegal, but apparently it is not from all of the posts I have seen on which people heard it on the radio. Sad, I know, but these days everyone is trying to make a buck and you've got to be smart enough to keep yours unless it's a just cause, so kudos to you on not being sucked into this.

    Sarbo, I think you're on to something as well. I believe that there really is a legit sector to this, but only few people may be receiving it. Again, these also may be people that can stand to lose some money so if it comes out of their accounts, they may not even notice. At any rate, I am ecstatic that you reported your card stolen and stopped the madness before it even started.

    Both of you please warn others about this and if they are non-believing, you can always refer them to this page. Let's keep the "Consumer's Cause" going!

    Best wishes to you both and thank you for your posts!

  • Al
      11th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    I live in CT, and my husband just called me to tell me about this ad he heard on the radio. He called the number, and was given a website that has nothing to do with the company name, ATS Market Research. He asked the person if there was a monthly charge, and was told, "No, the only thing you pay is the shipping and handling for $3.90." Knowing not to trust something that sounds too good to be true, he called me and asked me to look into it. Once I found these complaints, I called him back and told him the ads and reps are completely misleading.

    Thanks to everyone who posted their experiences so others can be forewarned and not trust what they hear from these shady companies.

  • Tr
      11th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hi, allgan2345

    Kudos to you and your husband; he did the right thing! Of course they're going to tell you 'no' about the monthly charge, and for the first month or so there really won't be one... but as time goes on if you watch your statements, they'll begin to sneak them in. This is misleading and I am glad that you all did not fall for it.

    I am thankful as well to everyone that has posted their experiences, and now to you, too. Please keep the "Consumers' Cause" going by warning everyone that you know who may be drawn to this advertisement.

    Thank you for your post and best wishes always!

  • Sc
      24th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    I just heard the ad today on the radio in denver, co. It sounded like a really good deal so I called. They said it was 4.50 for shipping out the 1000 gift card for groceries. I was hesitant but it sounded really good and helpful. After that the rep pushed me for 15 min about signing up for a 30 day trial on a few magazines. I finally got him to accept my no and he let me go. I had a really bad feeling so I called in my card lost/stolen. And now I find these postings. How is this not illegal to be on the radio?t

  • Tr
      24th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hi, scott420

    I don't know why these types of things are not illegal, but they definitely should be! I'll give you more insight on my experience: although I cancelled the card the ordeal was not officially over until I changed my home phone number last week. I checked the phone bill and there was something listed as "ILD" and the charge was about $16.95. I called the phone company wondering why it was on my bill, and they directed me to call these people. They promised to take it off the bill, but when I received the next phone bill, to my horror, the charge was doubled! I had to threaten to sue them and the phone company and change my number.

    These scams can sound really good especially in rough economic times, so we all have to be careful about who we trust. Everyone that claims they're out to help us as consumers are really not, and it's really a sales pitch, which I guess is why it's not illegal.

    I am glad that you reported your card lost/stolen, and be sure to do research next time. The main thing is to trust your gut feeling. You mentioned being hesitant and feeling uneasy; your gut is always right!

    Good luck always, thank you for posting your story, and please warn everyone that you know who may not be smart enough to cancel their card like you did BEFORE the damage is done. Let's keep the "Consumer's Cause" alive!

  • El
      10th of Sep, 2009
    0 Votes

    I'd like to post something a little different here:

    I just signed up for the ATS Research grocery thing. Everyone here that I've read (which, admittedly, isn't everyone) has complaints based off of their inability to ask questions and be informed. Having said this, I would like to share my experience.

    I heard the ad on the radio and called the number. I got a nice guy who explained that he was from ATS and, after asking for my zip code, told me that the offer was still being held in my area, Pittsburgh, PA. (Now yes, he can just plug the zip code in, see what comes up, and say it's being offered, but the point is that he actually asked for my location). He explained that I would be sent a voucher giving me access to "super" coupons online that I could print out (for free) and use at all major grocery chains. He tried to push the Wal-Mart and gas gift cards with the 30-day trial membership to whatever-the-hell those companies were, informing me there there was an additional fee to send those brochures out and sign up for the service, but I firmly specified to him that I only wanted to be charged the shipping for the grocery card and wanted nothing else, with which he gladly complied. I haven't received the card yet to see whether or not its a stupid scam, but I wanted to show that this experience did not have to be bad as long as those interested inform themselves of every detail.

    All this being said, I'm not saying the people who have posted here are stupid, unbalanced consumers who pay and then think (rather than vice versa) - many of the posts here seem to be from rational, unbiased people, but unfortunately, a lot of their complaints, again, are centered around being misinformed, the fault of which can only be placed on themselves.

    If anyone has a reply to or question about this, e-mail me at [email protected]

  • El
      10th of Sep, 2009
    0 Votes

    I forgot to mention that I specifically asked the guy I spoke to to explain to me IN DETAIL how the ENTIRE process works. Small, but important detail, so I understood exactly what I was being charged for, what I was receiving, and how I was to use it.

    The point is, being informed isn't only the person on the other end of the phone's responsibility. It's your money, so ask the important questions.

  • Tr
      11th of Sep, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings eldowns,

    I am glad that you have thus far had a positive experience with this company, and I do agree that if you want to spend your money on something, you definitely have to ask the right questions before 'signing on the dotted line'.

    However, the problem that I find with this organization is that even after one cancells services and receives a confirmation number, they are still being charged for services that they are no longer interested in. Confident, legitimate companies do no do such things, and that is why I have a problem with these people. In fact, with the phone number (my home number) that I gave when I called, after my card was reported stolen and they could no longer charge that, they had the nerve to add a misc. charge to my phone bill for $16.95 each month. I had to change the phone number and go through a rigorous event with my carrier. Again, this has always been my problem, and anytime a company steals money from anyone, they are untrustworthy.

    Nevertheless, you seem to be satisfied so far, so if anything changes for the better or worse, please post and keep us informed. Thank you for your positive post and I wish you the best of luck.

    In the meantime, I urge other consumers to ponder this post when making decisions of whether to get involved in this or not, but continue to 'watch your wallet' because if you don't, someone else will be making your money.

  • Su
      30th of Sep, 2009
    0 Votes

    Ugghhh I just fell for this scam about two minutes ago! I'm glad I saw this site but wished I had the brains to look it up BEFORE I gave them my credit card number! I hope it works out for everyone and they don't steal anymore money! This website has been a big help. Thankfully I told them I did not want the two extra subscriptions and immediately after I said that, the lady was very rude and didn't say anything more than "bye". I don't know if this means that I won't receive anything at all or what is going on.

  • Tr
      1st of Oct, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings, suckerfordeals...

    At this point, blaming yourself for not looking up info first and/or hoping that they won't rip anyone else off are not important (after all, some readers have reported that they have not been ripped off at all. If you have a bad gut feeling, reporting that card stolen/lost is the most important thing to do.

    If you had written that the representative had been understanding and courteous despite your declining of the other two subscriptions, I may have advised you to let it ride out and see what will happen, but being that she allegedly became angry and hung up, I wouldn't be surprised if charges came out of the ying yang. You may really want to consider cancelling that card.

    If you decide not to cancel it, just carefully monitor your bills and see how the situation turns out... all may not be lost.

    Best of luck, and PLEASE keep us posted on the aftermath! Thank you for your post.

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