Heartland, Inc / Scam and fraud!
First off, I have been registered with the National Do Not Call registry since January of 2003.(I recently checked to verify that I am still on the list, and I am). This Company called me Jan. 17, 2008. and started out bu asking how I like the magazines I was receiving. Since I was receiving magazines from another company, I assumed they were somehow affiliated with that company and I never asked.
They made a lot of small talk(probably designed to get me to give some 'yes' answers that they could use later) and verified some information like age, credit card number address, etc. they never told me that the purpose of the call was a sales call(and I believe, if my research is correct, that this is required of telemarketers) and they never asked me if I would agree to pay $49.90/ month for 20 months to add 5 more years onto the subscriptions.
By February, they were billing my credit card for the $49.90, I missed the first one but I caught it on the March bill and reported it to the credit card company as an unauthorized charge, and they took it off. Heartland then started calling me almost daily and sent me a letter that they would send an invoice and I should mail them a check.
On these phone calls I told them that I had never authorized them to bill me so they played a tape purported to be the recording of the sales call. I can't prove it without having the tape analyzed, but that conversation did not take place in that way and the charges had never been mentioned to me(they were on the tape, however and my response was uh-huh, which I believe was something i answered to a different question and I believe in order for the verbal, recorded contract to be valid, the purchaser has to give a definite and clear affirmative response).
I decided that it would be too costly and time consuming to try to prove the tape was a fake, so I went after the Do Not Call violation instead. The first person I mentioned it too said it was my obligation to notify them that I was on the do not call list, which proved he either didn't know the law or didn't care. The second person I mentioned it too said I wasn't on their list(if they bought the list like they are required to do, I would have been on it).
When I researched the Do Not Call law, I find that they are required to purchase the lists of every area code that they make calls in and if they don't, they could be fined up to $11, 000/ per phone call. But, the FTC does not enforce this, they only keep a data base of the complaints, it is up to an attorney general or a district attorney to bring charges I guess. I did get them to drop the contract by filing complaints with the FTC, the BBB, the South Dakota Attorney General's office and Senator Tim Johnson's office, and I was willing to keep going if necessary.
Even tho, I am no longer on the hook for the charges, I believe scammers should be stopped and I hope someone takes hold of this and runs with it.
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