Pittsburgh, PA – July 24, 2012 – The Better Business Bureau of Western PA’s Hot Topics is a monthly alert regarding companies across all industries that are currently targeting Western Pennsylvania consumers. The Hot Topics list and information is also available on the BBB website under the News Center.
According to Warren King, President of the Better Business Bureau, “The BBB’s goal in creating Hot Topics is to help educate and protect the marketplace from businesses targeting local consumers.”
The following report is based on your BBB’s research as of July 24, 2012 and includes information received at our office on companies marketing to local Pennsylvanians. Click on the company name for an updated BBB report. Please take into consideration the importance of the practice and total performance of the company. To access over four million companies nationwide, visit www.bbb.org.
- Billing Concepts – Billing Service
An F rated company, Billing Concepts has had 330 complaints filed against it in the last three years. Consumer complaints received by BBB allege that upon review of monthly or long distance phone bills, unrecognized and unauthorized charges were processed by the company. After contacting Billing Concepts, consumers claim they were told the company does not actually sell or provide telecommunication services, but is a billing service that processes payments for third party telecommunication providers. Despite meeting with BBB in March 2011, as of February 2012 the company has still not provided requested written clarification or resolved BBB concerns regarding origin/pattern of disputes. The company responds to BBB complaints by providing an explanation of their services and referring consumer concerns to the third party telecommunications company responsible for originating their charge.
- Brilliant Built Technologies – Digital indoor antenna
Based out of Canton, Ohio, Brilliant Built Technologies has received 69 complaints that were closed by BBB in the last 12 months. Consumers expressed confusion with the company’s Clear Cast Digital HDTV Antenna advertisement and amongst other issues, were under the impression they should receive 953 channels instead of 953 shows as the ad claims. In 2011, BBB conducted an advertising review and challenged the company’s use of the word “free,” claims of advanced technology, comparison to cable or satellite and implied government affiliation. The company agreed to make some changes to the Clear Cast advertisement. To learn about digital broadcast, call 1-888-CALLFCC. Visit www.bbb.org for information on BBB’s Code of Advertising.
- Club Billing FBO SMG – Insurance and Medicare services
As of July 5, 2012, complaints allege that Club Billing FBO SMG solicits senior citizens via telephone and offers alternative health insurance or a "benefits plan" to save 10% to 60% on medications. In many instances, consumers allege that the business misrepresents itself as being affiliated with Medicare. The business convinces seniors to provide checking account information and deducts between $397.68 and $448.74 without the customer's authorization. Because mail to the business has been returned by the post office, BBB is not able to contact the business to have them address this pattern of complaints. For tips on protecting senior citizens against fraud, visit www.bbb.org.
- Direct Commerce Academy – Work at home company
Due to failure to respond to 349 out of 367 complaints, among other factors, Direct Commerce Academy has an F rating with the BBB. Several consumers allege being solicited via email to purchase a program on how to start an at-home business, costing $2.97. Many of these consumers indicate the program materials were never received and additional money, ranging from $68 to $139 was taken from their account. Consumers also allege difficulty in obtaining a refund and BBB is unable to determine the physical location of this company. Read BBB’s helpful information about work-at-home offers.
- Innovative Wealth Builders – Debt relief services
BBB has received 195 complaints filed against Innovative Wealth Builders and identified a pattern concerning misrepresentation in selling practices and failure to honor and issue promised refunds in a timely manner. This F rated company was sued by the Missouri State’s Attorney General’s Office in March 2012. The lawsuit alleges Innovative Wealth Builders made solicitation calls that a consumer would deem to be annoying, abusive or harassing and that the company also violated the state’s No-Call list. Innovative Wealth Builders was ordered to pay a $5000 civil penalty to the State of Missouri for each violation. Visit www.bbb.org for tips about debt relief laws and your rights.
- Premier Resort Marketing – Timeshare resale scheme
On July 18, 2012, BBB further investigated this timeshare resale scheme after consumers complained they had lost and never received money from the sale of their timeshare rights. Consumers allege that the company contacted them claiming to have a buyer for their timeshare with no upfront fees and that a deposit must be sent in Mexico for taxes of $3000 or more per Mexican law. Premier Resort Marketing is not registered with the Department of State to do business in Pennsylvania and the company’s provided Pittsburgh address is fictitious per the owners of the property. Mail sent to the business on July 18, 2012 was returned by the U.S. Postal Service as Undeliverable as Addressed. Check out BBB’s timeshare sale and resale industry tips at www.bbb.org.
About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free Business and Charity Reviews and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB offers dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 115 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Visit www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.