SMC - Specialty Merchandise Corp. / Fraudulent Business Practices
My impression of SMC. I have read many of the complaints posted on this site. I agree with many of them (if not all of them). I have lost around $18, 000.00 during my "SMC experience" (In a years time, I have not made one penny on this enterprise, nor have I made one sale). SMC would most likely explain that I have failed at this because I am a loser. My advice to you would be, don't add your name to this VERY LONG list of losers. I feel that I have received a PHD in determining a scam when I see one. I look at the positives of this experience. I tend to be a creature of observation. I have attempted to list my observations of SMC below:
1) SMC will not allow the use of PayPal Pro. PayPal Pro is for all intents and purposes a gateway
(with very reasonable charges). SMC "supplies" their "own" gateway company and of course, receives payment from this company for referrals. A typical gateway will cost around $40.00 to $50.00 per month (If you sell absolutely nothing). The price quickly goes up if actual products are sold. If you decide to sell SMC items at swap meets or flee markets, you will find 3 or 4 (or more) selling the exact same merchandise from SMS (at a greatly reduced price). Most, if not all of the products are made in China, I especially love the Harley Davidson coffee mug with "Made in China" stamped on the bottom (that would get you killed at any Harley Davidson Rally...lol). You will find that all of the "hugh success" stories that SMC portrays are individuals that are groomed and given unlimited support (SMC has to have marketing hero's to present to the general public to entice new victims, right?) Given the fact that SMC is conducting faudulent business practices across states lines, I am amazed that the Federal Goverment has not become involved (Of course, SMC may have written this into there "terms and conditions" as well. Time will tell).
2) When dealing with SMC personnel, always remain calm (no matter how angry you may become). SMC keeps a log on every "client" and each time you call SMC support (or emerchant club support), the rep will review "your file" to determine how best to "handle" you. If you are conveying something of importance, ensure that you have a witness listening on another line (Wife, Friend, Mother, etc), and after the initial call, verify the information by a followup phone call. SMC tapes all conversations and you will find that tapes that support their position are found with ease, however, tapes that support your position "do not exist". The SMC Rep will attempt to end your call as quickly as possible (you will normally hang up without resolution of your issue or still be confused about what your issue was exactly...this will always be your fault). Ensure that the battery for your phone is completely charged prior to a call to SMC support. You will find that a 45 minute to a one hour telephone wait will be common during the Christmas season (This is of course the time that you will require the most support). By the time that a rep finally comes on the line, you will have forgotten why you even called. The shipping costs from SMC are very high (hugh cut in any potential profit). You will not have a person to complain to at SMC if you have a complaint (about anything). Attempt to find an SMC public phone number. Good luck, there are none). SMC is very secretive, in my opinion they should change their initials to CIA.
SMS thrivies on confusion. By the time you have "figured" everything out, you will be thousnads of dollars in debt. The biggest ploy is to sell you a "Gift Card" website. Then it starts to dawn on
you that YOU CANNOT SELL ANYTHING on your website unless the person purchasing the item has one of SMC's gift cards that you have already purchased from SMC (As many as they can convince you to buy). Wait a minutes, SMC to the rescue! They will then tell you that "you" were confused, however, they can get you into a state of the art, full blown, wonderful, incredible ecommerce website! And it will only cost you an additional $2000.00 (AND they will throw in thousands of dollars of stuff that are worth absolutely nothing, oh, and you have to do it RIGHT NOW or they cannot guarantee all the neat stuff they're offering...if you hang-up now you lose a chance of a lifetime)! Those people at SMC and emerchant Club are such wonderful people! Kidding of course. It's a hugh con-game and it WILL cost you a lot of money!
3) SMC will assign each person a "coach". This persons primary function is to "sell" you as much
SMC materials as possible (Catalogs, giftcards, SMC products or the new "flavor of the week". This
"coaching" is purely based on the amount of money that you are prepared to part with (In my case
around $18, 000.00). I was treated like "gold" until I attempted to balk about the incredible
expenses involved. It seemed as though "I had become a problem" at that point. If you have decided upon the $29.95 "special" with SMC, also decide that you will receive absolutely no support what so ever (Or anything else for that matter). Whenever you have been lied to by an SMC Rep, it will always be your fault, because you misunderstood or you miscommunicated the situation. Get use to this or you will go crazy.
4) Beware of SMC's "automatic payments" I had the fortune to discover that in October of 2008 I
would be "automatically opted-in" to a $200.00 payment to SMC for a website upgrade. This upgrade consisted of absolutely nothing of value (A few more useless templates and a few functions that I would not use anyway). I called to cancel and of course, this information was not properly entered (or was not entered at all) and SMC debited my account for $200.00. I contested this charge with my Bank and it was eventually taken off after approximately two weeks of my money being placed "on-hold". SMC does not have "opt-in", they only have "opt-out" (if you find out in time). I am reporting SMC/emerchant club to the FTC, the States Autorney General and the BBB (the BBB is useless if the company "pays" their "yearly fee" to be a member, however, it will still be documented one additional place). Always remember one thing, if you are talking to someone at SMC or emerchant Club, chances are very good that you are either being lied to or you are being conned. If you decide to try SMC as a business, please do yourself and everyone else concerned a favor and report both companies to the FTC, States Attorney and the BBB afterwards. Something may be done about this if enough complaints are registered with these organizations.
5) The SMC website. First of all, you MUST be VERY proficient with computer hardware and software as well as the internet in order to succeed just at this portion of the "internet marketing". You must be familiar with HTML ad generation, mass marketing via email (plan on spending thousands of dollars for just this portion of internet marketing). I had 20 years of computer experience from IBM when I added an ecommerce site. I had no problem performing the required tasks, however, I often wondered how others with much less experience could possily manage "just this part" of the internet marketing. There are so many softwares that were required to accomplish the internet marketing portion that I will not list all of them here (a few, autoreponders, graphics programs, email list management software, inventory program, etc). SMC's portrayal of "it's so simple" is of course an out and out lie (Extreme fraud). You will recognize an SMC site when you see it. They have postage stamp size images (that may be made larger by clicking on them if the customer is computer literate). There are a limited number of templates that may be used for your site and all of these templates are very plain in my opinion (Looks like they are from the early 1990's). You can find websites that offer an entire ecommerce site (with all required functions, e.g. shopping cart, database and other support functions for a fully functional ecommerce site) and these sites cost absolutely NOTHING! You have to build the site yourself, however, you will have TOTAL control of the site (With SMC, you have very little control of your site) These sites also have 4 to 5 times more high quality templates to choose from than that of SMC. You will pay thousands of dollars for an SMC website (plus ongoing monthly and yearly charges).
6) SMC has (at last check) a little over 341, 000 websites under their control (If you would like to
see for yourself, do a "WHOIS" on your website and it will show you the current number). Logic would say that a company as small as SMC is incapable of adequately managing this enormous amount of sites. You will also notice that you will violate your terms of conditions if you associate your business with SMC (interesting). The terms also state that you may not sue SMC. You must enter into arbitration in Los Angeles California (at your own expense) if you have a "disagreement" with SMC. If you decide to persue an SMC business, read THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CAREFULLY from the bottom to the top of the document (they place the important things at the bottom assuming that you will have burned out by then).
In conclusion, I have written this document to give the general public my personal insights about my experience with the SMC Corporation. Each individual must decide for themselves if this would be the right decision for them. In my opinion, this is not a get rich quick scheme...it's more like a get poor quick scheme. I had the money to chase this ghost. If you have a family to consider, I would highly discourage this endeavor. Remember what the infamous P.T. Barnum stated..."There's a sucker born every minute", don't be one of those "suckers". Please research all available information concerning the SMC Corporation prior to making a decision and DO NOT make a snap decision based on information that you may obtain from SMC. SMC actually ended up on it's own fraud alert list! God bless you and may you live a long and happy life.