Pittsburgh, PA – January 14, 2011 –The Better Business Bureau has established a program called “Hot Topics.” Each month we will be sending out information on problematic companies that are targeting Western Pennsylvania consumers and posting the list on the BBB Web site under our “News Center.”
“The BBB feels that this proactive approach will help educate and protect the marketplace from questionable businesses targeting local consumers,” states Warren King, president of the BBB.
Below is information on companies marketing to local Pennsylvanians received at your BBB. Information is based on our research as of January 13, 2011. Click on their name for an updated BBB report. Please take into consideration the importance of the practice and the total performance of the company.
1. Cinergy Health, Inc – health insurance coverage
With a D+ rating and 202 complaints, this company is offering low cost health insurance coverage to consumers in our area. In October 2010, New York’s Insurance Department filed suit against Cinergy and they have been fined $500,000 for violations including misleading consumers into believing they were buying comprehensive health insurance. Instead, buyers received limited benefit health insurance plans also known as "mini-meds," which normally provide substantially less than comprehensive hospital/medical coverage.
2. 200cash.com – online payday loan company
The BBB is concerned with the industry in which this business operates. With 670 complaints in 36 months, 666 have gone unanswered. Payday loan companies must be registered in the state of Pennsylvania. Always contact the PA Department of Banking to check the legitimacy of a company offering any financial services, at 800-722-2657.
3. Lifeline Industries, Inc. – mail order telemarketing sales
This company offers various products for sale, via telemarketing, including light bulbs, garbage bags and other household products. According to information provided by the company, these products are either made or packaged by the handicapped. Complaints allege unordered merchandise, unauthorized billings and unwanted telemarketing contacts. Consumers should be aware that this company is a for-profit company and is not a charity.
4. Mailings offering airline tickets – targeting our area
Several offers ‘qualifying you an award of 2 airline tickets’ received through the mail, have been targeting Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities by Patterson Bell, Southwest Travel Club, Luxury Travel Promotions, Universal Travel Vacations, etc. Consumers are directed to a sales presentation regarding travel opportunities. Other BBBs have alerted consumers to similar mailings in other areas. BBB warns that offers of prizes from travel clubs are usually tied to a requirement to attend a presentation of some kind. Presentations conclude with attempts to enroll consumers in travel clubs, to sell exclusive software, or to sell access to a special web site. Customers are told they can expect elaborate and extensive discounts on their travel purchases.
In BBB experience, the upfront costs of enrollment or purchase in these programs are never recouped. Promised travel discounts rarely materialize and legitimate travel consolidators, lodgings, airlines and rental car agencies generally do not recognize credentials issued by these companies and groups.
5. TaxMasters- advertising tax assistance on television
With 831 BBB complaints in 36 months, this business has an F rating. Both Minnesota and Texas Attorney Generals have pending lawsuits against TaxMasters for allegedly defrauding consumers. Contrary to its promises, most citizens do not qualify for special IRS programs that reduce a person's tax debt.
Information outlined in the Minnesota suit alleges TaxMasters heavily advertises on late-night television. The company also falsely told some consumers it could put an immediate stop to collection efforts, such as wage garnishments, levies, or liens. The lawsuit alleges that TaxMasters sometimes left people in worse financial shape after paying the company's advance fees, failing to respond to important deadlines or requests of tax authorities.
To check out a company contact the Better Business Bureau at 412.456.2700 or log on to 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 BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 128 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.
*******BBB HOT TOPICS ARCHIVE
March & April 2009