Have you seen an ad in the local paper offering $500 worth of free groceries or gas if you make a substantial purchase at a retailer? Your Better Business Bureau would like to remind consumers that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
BBB has received thousands of complaints North America-wide about companies who offer online gas and grocery voucher redemption services. Retailers are contacted by third-party marketing companies who offer the companies an opportunity to give their potential customers an incentive to shop at their store.
While there are many legitimate programs in the marketplace, be wary of the free gas and grocery offers. Consumers who want to take advantage of the offer have to enroll through a website, after they make their retail-store purchase. The websites have names like, claimyourfoodandfuel.com, freegrocerycenter.com, gasandgrocerydepot.com, claimyourgroceries.com and freebeegas.com.
In all cases, consumers have to jump through several hoops to get their vouchers for gas or groceries. BBB has received numerous complaints alleging non-receipt and delay in the receipt of the vouchers, even after following the company's instructions for the redemption program. Complaints allege consumers have mailed the required receipts to the company and have had difficulty obtaining the vouchers. In the worst cases, consumers are finding out, after a few months of waiting, that the company has gone out of business.
Three separate companies have gone out of business and have been involved in civil litigation. BBZ Resource Management (Arizona), Tidewater Marketing (Florida) and My Free Travel (Illinois) have either gone out of business or failed to honour their commitments to their customers. Over the past three years, the companies have amassed 4,451 complaints.
Locally, Dodd’s Furniture in Victoria reportedly lost $100,000 through the program (*Source: Victoria Times-Columnist*) when the store ended up offering either an in-store credit on purchases or a flight and two nights in a hotel in Las Vegas to replace the promotion.
BBB suggests businesses and consumers looking to partner with a company that offers incentives and/or certificate programs diligently research the business and its owners. Make sure that the company is trustworthy by checking it out with BBB.
If you have had an unsatisfactory experience with a company, file a complaint at http://www.mbc.bbb.org (Vancouver) or http://www.vi.bbb.org (Island)
AUGUST 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND
AUGUST 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
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