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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.

Tr
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Comments

  • Sh
      22nd of Oct, 2009
    +1 Votes

    "OMG!" I heard the same commercial on th radio station, I also called the number but they mentioned alot more than just the $1000 voucher. It was a walmart card and gas card and 2 discount cards one for liberty pass and another for the us patroit pass. The rep was rude, they didnt go over anything at all. they couldnt provide me with a website nor could they tell me any thing about the vouchers. I never recieved any vouchers and when I called and asked them about how they worked the customer service rep told me I had to order the coupons...Order the coupons? I thought they were sending them to me. I canceled my accounts with the 2 side compaanys also and watched my account like a hawk. Its sa these days what people go through to take peoples hard earned money. It makes my blood boil.. I will never trust anything else like this ever again. I was planning on helping out my Grandmother and everything I had plans made out for that voucher. lol. I now have to tell my friends about this scam because I also told them about the commercial and also applied. this is just abunch of sad mess. I would like to thank everyone for posting these alerts otherwise I would have never known. God Bless you all

  • Tr
      26th of Oct, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hi, Shundreca

    God bless you for your posting; I certainly appreciate you sharing your story. I am glad that you watched your account after you canceled, and I would advise that you continue doing so. When my card was cancelled and they could no longer get money from that, they sunk to the level of putting bogus charges on my home telephone bill. My mother had to threaten to sue them AND the phone company, and change her number to get all of this to stop.

    Please do warn your friends not to fall into this, and if they don't believe you, tell them to check out this site and this posting area. They can compare the number of positive to negative complaints, the promised items in comparison to what you actually receive, and so on. After that if they still wish to go through with it, then at least you warned them.

    There have been a few positive postings about this situation, so maybe all is not lost for everyone, but I still firmly believe that any time a company has to lie about what you're getting then resort to charging you even when you've cancelled, they don't stand a chance at getting an award from the Better Business Bureau!

    Thank you, again, for your posting and for warning your family and friends. Let's continue to keep the "Consumers' Cause" alive - in these times we need it!

  • Wh
      27th of Oct, 2009
    0 Votes

    i heard the commercial on the radio here in the Cleveland, OH area at lunch time today. i called the number and was told that there was research being done in my area to see what consumers purchased at the local stores. that i would have to pay $13.98 and they would ship me a $1000 voucher to use at any store at any time. they explained that i would log into a website before i went to the store and would print coupons to take with me for the items i would be buying, then at the checkout counter i would give them my coupons and the remaining balance of the bill would come out of the $1000. they asked me if i would like to sign up today and i asked if they had a web-site that i could view before i signed up for anything. the sales guy was very understanding of the fact that this all sounded like a scam and gave me their web-site (which i can't remember now, grocery something) and told me to give them a call back after i checked out how it all works online. thankful i have done different market researches before and knew not to pay for anything, googled it and this is page i got. thanks trish for putting this out there!

  • Mo
      5th of Nov, 2009
    0 Votes

    I heard the commercial here in Columbus, OH and, like most of the people posting here, had a "gut" feeling that it was too good to be true. After reading the comments here, what I find most disconcerning is that the offer is not always the same. I was told that coupons would be mailed to me, while I see that some people were told they would need to print them off the internet. Also, the amount of the fee is different. When I asked for the name of the company sponsoring the program I was told it was Consumer Advocate Response. I was told they were located in California, but that they could not give me an address. That's when my better judgement kicked in and I said "Thanks, but no thanks." A legitimate company should have no problem giving out their contact information. Don't believe the hype. Another example of "If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is." Hope this helps.

  • Tr
      5th of Nov, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings Whew!

    I appreciate you being thankful for me putting this info out here. I think that some of the readers (before reading all of the positive vs negative responses) think that I am misunderstanding or some type of vulture looking to bring a company down. In reality I am not telling anyone not to take this offer. I am merely encouraging all consumers whom come into contact with this offer to think with common sense, keep their guards up, and do all the research that they possibly can before accepting.

    I am glad as well, that you have done marketing research in the past and you were able to read this and make a sound judgment for yourself.

    Please pass the word along so that others can benefit from this page before making their decision. Thank you for keeping the 'Consumers' Cause' going!

  • Tr
      5th of Nov, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hi, moonchild2k9

    You were smart to go with your 'gut' feeling. I had that same gut feeling while I was on the phone, but unfortunately I pushed it aside until I hung up! I am glad that you turned down the offer and as you mentioned, more than likely anything that sounds too good to be true (especially in this day and age) is most likely too good to be true.

    The legitimacy of this company is shaky based on what you mentioned, as well, about the fees and what is promised to the consumer being different. As I responded to a reader much earlier (whom seemed to think that I misunderstood this situation), any company that is based on dishonesty and charging consumers for products that they do not wish to accept is pathetic. The more pathetic issue is that so many good consumers get caught up in this process trying to make a better way of life for themselves. Thank goodness you were not one of those.

    I can't thank all of you enough for your posts, and please warn others about this so that they can do their own research before giving out their credit card numbers or telephone numbers. Let's keep the 'Consumers' Cause' alive!

  • Cw
      17th of Nov, 2009
    0 Votes

    can anyone tell me the numbers to call so my card wont be billed for the others discounts? i've been calling the number given to me and i've had to wait on hold for hrs with no answers..i really need ur help..i do not want even more money tooken off my card.

  • Tr
      18th of Nov, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hi, cwoods3

    The numbers that I called for cancellation were: 1-800-355-1837 for EZ Saver and American Leisure, so you may try those and see if they get you anywhere.

    You may still be billed even after you cancel, so my best advice to you is cut your card into as many pieces as possible and destroy it. Call your issuing institution and report the card stolen, then request a new one. No one can bill a number that is not linked to anyone.

    Thank you for your post and I wish you the best of luck!

  • Fi
      25th of Nov, 2009
    0 Votes

    What they are doing is illegal. I live in AZ where they are based. I called the Attorney General, and they said they needed to know about this...apparently, they have not heard. They do not advertise in AZ. I was informed about this company through my grandmother in Alabama in October of 2009. Here is what you need to do:

    1. Go to www.azag.gov
    2. Click on "File a Complaint"
    3. You can either fill out one online or print one out and mail it.
    4. If you are going to send one off, include any documentation you can

    Optional: When you are finished, go to bbb.org and fill out a better business bureau complaint.

    The online form takes a moment, and it will enable the Attorney General of Arizona to shut these people down.

  • Tr
      26th of Nov, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings, Fight4Consumers

    Thank you for posting this valuable information. Hopefully all readers will combine together and file enough complaints for some action to take place. I certainly will.

    Thank you again for posting this valuable information in an effort to keep the 'Consumer's Cause' alive!

  • Rm
      2nd of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    I live in Phoenix, AZ. and I heard the ad on a local station last night. I called the number and the guy said that for only $7.95 in S&H fees they will send you coupons which you can use towards over 350, 000 different foods (excluding alcohol and tobacco). The coupons were worth 50-75% off "All you need to do is give me your credit card # and we'll send you the coupons right away. "
    Being somewhat leery I asked a lot of questions. The guy started to get agitated with me. He tried to assure me that this was legitimate company and the research was to be used to see what foods people in various regions of the U.S. are purchasing. He also assured me that they do not keep credit card info.
    It sounded legit so I began to give my credit card info - but half way through I got this sinking feeling in my stomach and thought this really sounded too good to be true.
    I did not finish giving him my number telling him instead that I needed to check into this company first and then get back with him. He said: "You're already half way done giving me your number why don't you finish?" I replied: " I am sorry I wasted your time but I do not feel compfortable with this, Sorry. " He then said - and I could not believe what I was hearing - but he said in a very angry voice ' "Piss off then". And he hung up on me. So much for a legitimate company! I wonder if that phone conversation was recorded for quality assurance purposes...
    I know I did the right thing by not succumbing to this. If there are people who actually got what they were promised without any hassles or contnued credit card problems - kudos to you. Unfortunately, I would bet that the majority of folks did not. RC

  • Tr
      3rd of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings, RMC1234

    There are a few people who posted on here with claims to good fortune with this situation, but as you mentioned, the majority of the people on here did not; i.e. the name "COMPLAINTS" board.

    I am thankful that you (and most people who have posted lately) are skeptical enough to ask questions and see how the agents respond to them. Fortunately you asked enough questions to see the customer service rep become angry, letting you know at this point that this must not be legitimate. As I have mentioned to readers before, any legitimate corporation has enough confidence to give you time to look into them before taking any information from you, and can accept rejection with a smile.

    You definitely did the right thing, and please continue to do the right thing by warning everyone that you know about this company. Please refer them to this site as well so that they can read all of the posts before making any decisions.

    I truly appreciate you posting your story, as it will help us to keep the "Consumer's Cause" alive and save others from losing money that they probably do not have. Thank you!

  • Em
      7th of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    I just heard the ad and responded, taking it with a grain of salt. I asked him what other companies/services would be involved and if my information would be used for anything else.

    He said the research study is being funded by JP Morgan Chase and they would be sending a $1000 check card (I think Visa) to use for groceries - but there are rules, it has to be used by participating stores (he said just stick to the big chains but I'm going to wait for the information and get an exact list of which chains participate), and you can't buy alcohol or tobacco products. He said my information will not be used for anything else.

    He also said that JP Morgan Chase would be sending additional pamphlets of services that I will need to call and respond about to say whether or not I'm interested, because if I don't they will assume I'm interested. There are also 2 trials of At Home Rewards Plus and Today's Escapes Plus included and you have to call within 30 days to cancel or they will be charging you $20 a month for their service. I got the numbers for the marketing research company - ATS Market Research (888-840-4471), At Home Rewards Plus (888-299-6416) and Today's Escapes Plus (877-226-1837) in advance just in case.

    I agreed to pay $12 for the cost of the paperwork/pamphlets and $2 for each of the trials with my credit card (not linked to my main bank account with a low limit) and I'm hoping for the best. He read this whole thing about canceling within 30 days and what I would be sent and I had to agree to the terms by entering the last 4 digits of my credit card on the phone and he kept stressing that unless I fail to cancel all of the services within 30 days, I will only be charged something like $11.82.

    Not only will be I be calling the companies to cancel, but I will be sending a dated letter informing them that I do not wish to continue past the trial period (with its ending date) and including that I will be canceling by phone and written notification. You just really can't be too safe these days.

    He did say that I was receiving "a gift card", not vouchers or coupons so I'm going to wait and see. If I get some stupid voucher or coupons or something like that I'm going to return them certified mail with a written letter stating that the program was false advertisement and that I will take it to the better business bureau. Usually if you threaten to go to the better business bureau for false advertisement companies will quickly return any money you paid and remove you from their program.

  • Tr
      8th of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings, Emmas

    I applaud you for asking the questions that you did and getting as much information as you possibly could.

    At this point there is really not much that I can say, until the waiting period is over and you have received (or not received) what the customer service representative promised to send to you, and posted your outcome on this site.

    I can tell you that during my experience, I called the cancellation numbers that he gave me on that same night and cancelled, because I had a gut feeling that by the time those 'gift cards' for the other two companies arrived, it would be well past the time alotted to cancel. I was right. I finally received the mock-up of the gas card and the other card that I was offered, but that was past 30 days and I would have still had to complete a form to receive the actual gift cards. Even after I canceled over the telephone and was given a confirmation number, I still had to deal with at least two charges on my card (which I cut up, threw away, and requested a new number), then bogus charges on my home telephone bill (my mother had to threaten to sue the telephone company and 'ILD', the company which appeared to be placing the charges on her bill. Eventually she changed the telephone number and we have not been bothered since). I even sent the materials back to these people in the mail in lieu of all of these charges. It was one heck of an experience and I pray that you will not have to go through these types of issues.

    Good luck and I hope that you receive what you were promised. Please re-post whatever the situation turns out to be so that we may learn something from you. Thank you so much for adding your post and we hope to hear from you again soon.

    Thank you for contritbuting to the 'Consumer's Cause'!

  • Fi
      10th of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    OMG!! i WAs about to give out my credit card too... Actually... i was gonna buy a pre paid credit card and do it like that.. But i knew it was too good to be true anyways, so i didnt even WASTE MY TIME! ... What i dont understand is "Why my radio station, who I faithfully listens to, aired that Nonsence!"...

  • Tr
      11th of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    Greetings, firstlay_d

    I am glad that you did not waste your time and thankful for your post. Please advise all of your friends, co-workers, family, and loved ones to beware of these people when they hear the advertisement as well.

    Speaking of advertisement, it seems that if anyone in radio has heard complaints about it that the station would eventually stop airing it, but from their standpoint, it probably goes like this: The station may be receiving a generous amount of money for airing the commercials, and, I presume that they feel as though they are only airing the commercials; they are not forcing anyone to call and get scammed. I am just saying that is probably their standpoint, but I am not saying that is morally right.

    Thank you again for your post and please warn everyone so that we can keep the 'Consumer's Cause' alive and well!

  • Em
      24th of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    Unfortunately this was just a scam. I did not receive a gift card that could be used at grocery stores as I was told, but a gift card for a coupons program. I have no interest in coupon programs because they never have coupons for what I normally buy. I canceled the 2 other programs I was signed up for (At Home Rewards Plus 1-888-299-6416, Today's Escapes Plus 1-877-226-1837). I never received anything from them in the mail, so I'm glad I took down their information at the beginning. I was able to get the At Home Rewards Plus $1.95 charge reversed by a supervisor when I called the number. Today's Escapes Plus was an automated system though. I'm going to put a hold on my credit card because there were "other brochures" I was supposed to be receiving from "JP Morgan Chase" too that I would "need to respond to within 30 days to avoid additional charges, because if you don't respond they are going to assume that you want to use their services."

  • La
      4th of Jan, 2010
    0 Votes

    I WAS SO SKEPTIC ABOUT THE COMMERCIAL IN THE BEGINNING. I KNEW IT WAS FAKE HOWEVER BEING A HUMAN I TRIED IT AND JUST SOMETHING WOULD NOT ALLOW ME TO GIVE THEM MY CARD #. THANKS FOR THE CONFIRMATION ABOUT THIS SKAM. ITS CRAZY HOW THEY TRAVEL BECAUSE I AM IN OCALA FLORIDA AND JUST HEARD THE COMMERICIAL JUST TWO HOURS AGO.

  • Tr
      4th of Jan, 2010
    0 Votes

    Greetings again, Emmas

    Thank you, first off, for sending a follow-up post and keeping us informed. I am sorry that this opportunity did not turn out well for you.

    It is a smart idea for you to put a hold on your card and although you were able to get one of the charges reversed, please keep an eye out for it on your bill. The situation that I went through with the telephone bill was that a charge was reversed, but then it would show up on the next bill and this went on for quite some time before I was finally able to get it to end.

    Of all the people that decided to try this and repost, you are the only one that I have heard from. Thank you again for such consideration. I wish you the best of luck in ending the charges and thank you for helping to keep the "Consumer's Cause" going!

  • Tr
      4th of Jan, 2010
    0 Votes

    Hello, LAYLOW

    I am glad that you did not give your card number out. It could have led to a seemingly never-ending nightmare.

    About the commercials, it is definitely crazy how they travel around. I heard it last week here in Cleveland, Ohio but this time it was supposed to be "Nelson Research". The phone number, however, was the same.

    Please inform everyone you know about this so that they can read the posts if they don't believe you, then make up their own mind. Thank you for keeping the "Consumer's Cause" alive!

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