We’ve moved to CHEAPENCOUNTERS.COM!!!

$200 bonus for opening a Chase Business Checking account

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Update 11/27/2007: New working link at http://www.chase.com/ccp/index.jsp?pg_name=ccpmapp/smallbusiness/shared/page/200_coupon_offer&ID=0000007224. Offer still expires on 11/30/2007. Thanks RJ!

Update 11/24/2007: Unfortunately, it looks like the link to generate a coupon code for this offer is now dead. You may want to try contacting one of the nice Chase bankers that have posted their information in the comments to this post to see if they can still get this offer for you. If you already have a coupon code for this offer, you have until 11/30/2007 to open your account.

Just when I am trying to simplify my financial life, here comes a financial offer I can’t refuse!

From now until 11/30/2007, you can get a $200 bonus for opening a Chase Business Checking account by bringing in the coupon from Chase here. Watch out because the fees can get you on even their most basic account, however you may qualify for a fee waiver for the first 12-24 months (see my experience below). Also note that this is a business checking account, so you may be required to produce some type of documentation to show you actually have a business of some sort. Minimum balance to open is $100, and you have to keep the account open for at least 6 months or the bonus will be debited from the account at closing.

Here is my experience: I did this offer yesterday by going into a branch here in Texas.

This blog has moved! Read the rest of this post at our new home at CheapEncounters.com!

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September 28, 2007 Posted by | Deals | , , , , | 45 Comments

What’s in YOUR trash can?

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I’m a big fan of shredders. I love the things. Besides the obvious benefit of keeping my personal information away from prying eyes, I find it quite therapeutic. There’s nothing like coming home from a long day at the office and shredding the day’s unimpressive credit card offers. If I had a really stressful day, I’ll find a credit card to put through the special credit card slot on my shredder just to release some tension.

Apparently my brother-in-law is not a shredder aficionado like me. I say this because as I was going to throw away something in the kitchen, I see my brother-in-law’s Chase credit card statement staring up at me. Yikes! My obsessive-compulsive personality couldn’t take it – I went and shredded it myself. If the immigrant guy who comes around each week and steals the aluminum cans out of the trash wanted he could have my brother-in-law’s name, billing address, full card number, and credit limit information. I didn’t look to see if there were the cash advance checks on the second page of the statement (there usually are), but think of the damage that could be done with those things, especially knowing what the credit limit on the account is! Most places now also require your expiration date and security code to process a transaction, but it is still rather scary.

So the question to my readers – what’s in your trash can? If you are just throwing those statements and other personal papers in the trash, it isn’t a question of if but when someone uses that information for a shopping spree. One of the best investments you can make is a good cross-cut shredder. Make sure the annoyance of bad preapproved credit offers and those cash advance checks that each of the major issuers send out on a nearly daily basis doesn’t become someone else’s quick score!

Today’s Update: Today would have been a good day to be an identify thief! Thrown in the garbage today unshredded were two pre-approved credit card offers, two credit card statements, and an IRS notice with social security number noted in three places. Is it perhaps time for an intervention like you would have for an alcoholic or crackhead?

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Tips | , | 4 Comments

Yes, your insurance company IS trying to screw you!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Have you ever sworn that your insurance company is simply out to screw you? I mean, you seem to pay through the nose for ever decreasing levels of coverage, and then when you need to file a claim they seem to be incapable of paying you fairly for your loss. Well, it seems this is by design, according to this lengthy article from Bloomberg. It is long, but certainly worth reading.

The article details how insurance companies have rigged the claims process to avoid paying claims at all costs. According to the article, it all began in the early 1990s when Allstate engaged management consulting firm McKinsey to help streamline their claims process. McKinsey came up with several strategies for Allstate that were quite unfriendly to consumers. One was called “Good Hands or Boxing Gloves”, an obvious play on Allstate’s longtime slogan, which called for Allstate to initially respond to a policyholder’s claim with a lowball offer. If the policyholder accepted the offer, they should be treated with good hands. If they didn’t accept the lowball offer or hired a lawyer, Allstate should put the boxing gloves on and fight back.

Another strategy from McKinsey was “sit and wait”, which directed the company to discourage customers by delaying settlement payments and stalling court proceedings. The idea is that the longer to insurance company can avoid paying out, the longer they can hold the money and make money on their investments. As an added bonus to the insurance company, customers often are worn down into dropping their challenge as either their patience or finances without a settlement are depleted.

Although Allstate may have started the trend, most major insurance companies now employ some or all of these tactics. Most are now also utilizing specialized computer programs some say are rigged to automatically lowball settlement offers.

Unfortunately, there probably isn’t a whole lot you can do about this. It seems almost everyone does it, so being able to avoid these practices is probably near impossible. Your best bets are to know what your policy does and doesn’t cover and keep very good records detailing your possessions in case of loss. You may also want to consider enrolling in the prepaid legal benefit at your work, if it is offered, so you are prepared to fight the insurance company when you do finally make a claim.

Crap like this is why I’m not scared by the sales tactics of traditional insurance agents who claim you won’t get good service from non-traditional companies like Progressive and Geico. Even the traditional insurance companies are going to try to screw you, so you might as well go with the financially stable company with the best rates for the coverage.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Insurance | Leave a comment

My car insurance rates are too high! Not anymore thanks to Geico!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

As Americans we are the target of a full-on assault from a yuppie caveman with a chip on his shoulder, whiny 50s-era dolls, and a cute little gecko who talks with an Australian accent. Unless you have been living in a cave, you surely have seen the numerous advertisements for Geico Auto Insurance, promising that in 15 minutes you can save 15% or more on car insurance. And if you are like me, you have always ignored the ads.

Well, I got sprung into action when I added our 2007 Honda Accord to our existing policy with Allstate. These greedy bastards wanted more for coverage on this vehicle than they did on my big 2007 Honda Pilot SUV, which is worth probably $10,000 more than the Accord. And that is with having one of the vehicles as a pleasure vehicle! In all, Allstate wanted $807 for full coverage for six months on our two vehicles. Seeing as my wife and I are relatively low risk (no tickets, no accidents, college-educated professionals, good credit scores, over 25 and married), decided to shop it around with Liberty Mutual and Geico. I chose these two because they have special arrangements with professional organizations I belong to.

Using the Texas Society of CPAs rate, Liberty Mutual came back higher than Allstate. So it was on to Geico, and using the Institute of Internal Auditors rate, they quoted us at $616 every six months with a higher level of coverage. Even taking into account the 15% discount I get on my Allstate homeowners insurance, this is a huge difference. Needless to say I switched and me and the gecko are now good friends.

This is my honest experience. I have no affiliation with Geico, no advertising banners for them, no employment relationship, nothing. I don’t even own Berkshire Hathaway (Geico’s parent company) stock, although I’d like to. This is just to share my experience and remind you if you haven’t shopped your car insurance in a while, you could be missing out on significant savings.

Now to see if they take away the multi-policy discount on my Allstate homeowners policy for the remainder of the policy term…

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Automotive, Insurance | , , | 4 Comments

Capital One: Let us know what you want, and we’ll totally ignore you!

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Here’s a candidate for most pointless credit card marketing piece. My wife has a Capital One Visa card that she hasn’t used in a long time. She got the card while she was in college, so the reward program sucks and the credit limit is a ridiculously low $1800. However, since it is one of her oldest accounts we don’t want to close it because of the hit her credit score would take.

Since she hasn’t used the card in a long time, Capital One sent her two mailings, including the one attached. The message was that life changes and so should your card, with an invitation to call Capital One to let them know what changes you’d like to make to the account to make you want to use it. Seems reasonable enough, and we figured it would be good to call them to make sure the card stays active and isn’t cancelled by the issuer

.Capital One Flyer

When calling, we hoped for a much higher limit along with a juicy 0% balance transfer offer. If we couldn’t get a balance transfer offer, we at least wanted to change the card to the No Hassle Cash Rewards program (the one with the 25% annual bonus) so it would be worth using. Imagine our surprise when the request to increase the credit limit was automatically denied! And then the request to change to the Cash Rewards program was also denied! The representative said that they couldn’t change the limit or reward program on that account, but she was welcome to apply for a new card with a higher limit and different program.

If they couldn’t change the limit or reward program, what the hell was the point of the mailing inviting her to call to make her card a better fit? They should have just sent her another pre-approved application if they were just going to invite her to apply for a new card anyway.

Needless to say, she didn’t apply for another card and we’ll continue using our other cards from Citi and Chase instead of a Capital One card. We’ll just make a small purchase on the old Capital One card once a year to keep the account active and preserve her credit score.

September 21, 2007 Posted by | Credit Cards | 4 Comments

Milestone – 10,000 hits! A look back

4/22/08 Update:  The FreeNEzy.com website written about in this post appears to have been sold and under new management, as documented on this recent post. While this change in ownership does not change any of the events that have occurred previously with this site (and my friend never got his reward), there is currently no evidence we are aware of that the new owner has continued any of the fraudulent practices previously associated with the site. As always, use caution when dealing with this or any other site.

Well, as of the end of the day on September 20, this blog should be up to 10,000 hits! It is quite a momentous occasion, and I appreciate all of you that have spent some time at my little rest stop on the information superhighway.

Since I started this blog, I have made over 100 posts, some more popular than others. Here’s a quick look back at some of my favorite posts, some which you may have missed.

Scams

I’ve posted about three big scams on this blog, and two have solicited comments from the scammers themselves.

The first scam posting was about Reservation Rewards. Reservation Rewards is a supposed subscription service that thousands of consumers are unknowingly enrolled in by making purchases at sites such as Chadwicks.com. The victims don’t figure out they have been enrolled until they take a closer look at their credit card statement and see the monthly recurring charges. I posted about this scam here and here, and then posted a response received from them and my rebuttal here.

The second scam I have posted about was the FreeNEzy.com scam. This is a GPT site that the owner promoted on Slickdeals.net forums under false pretenses, and then failed to deliver awards that were earned to several users. One of the users was a good friend of mine, which is why I am so interested in this particular scam. I initially posted about the scam in April on this post, and then just recently received a response from the scammer, which I posted and rebutted here.

I have also posted about the Buy.com and Connect3D rebate fiasco. Buy.com earlier this year heavily advertised several computer memory products marketed under the brand name Connect3D, all with inflated prices but large rebates which in many cases made the items free after rebate. Buy.com also promoted the items in question as being “free” after rebate. However, the rebates were to be fulfilled by the manufacturer, which has since fallen off the face of the earth. Buy.com, who apparently thinks paying for cheesy ads on cable TV is a better use of funds than taking care of existing customers by honoring the rebates IT advertised, has completely stonewalled customers seeking payment from them. This leaves thousands of consumers, including myself, out for the amount of these rebates as no one will “put their balls on the table” (sorry, inside family joke) to make the customers whole. I posted about this initially here and posted the follow-up received after complaining to the California AG’s office here.

Other favorite posts

Managing Stacks of Gift Cards – In this post I tackle the problem of managing the huge stack of gift cards that I have accumulated from gifts, work functions, and various promotional offers. Also making a cameo appearance is Hammy the Squirrel from “Over the Hedge”, which still remains one of this blogs most used search terms.

Tips to Make Sure You Get Your Rebates – I share my system for keeping up with all the mail in rebates I take advantage of. With these things, organization is key to success.

Economic Refugees from the State of Louisiana – Although probably one of the least read posts on my blog, it is still one of my favorites. I talk about how most of us originally from Louisiana living elsewhere are not refugees from Katrina but are economic refugees who fled Louisiana years ago in search of real opportunity and a decent standard of living. I also discuss how because of corrupt politics and ineffective state and local governments business is avoiding Louisiana like the plague.

Thanks again to everyone how reads this blog!

September 20, 2007 Posted by | About, Scams, Tips | Leave a comment

Been scammed online? Consider this advice from the California Department of Consumer Affairs

4/22/08 Update:  The FreeNEzy.com website written about in this post appears to have been sold and under new management, as documented on this recent post. While this change in ownership does not change any of the events that have occurred previously with this site (and my friend never got his reward), there is currently no evidence we are aware of that the new owner has continued any of the fraudulent practices previously associated with the site. As always, use caution when dealing with this or any other site.

Unfortunately, it will probably happen to you at some point. As I have highlighted in my blog here and here, there are scams out there online that even the most careful of internet users can be victimized by. A friend of mine was a victim of the FreeNEzy.com scam, and he received the following response with some great tips when submitting a complaint to the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

Thank you for contacting the State of California, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The information you provided indicates this is a business that does not require registration with any regulatory division within the DCA; therefore, we would like to offer you the following alternative resolution options and information.

Unfortunately, internet businesses are not currently regulated by any government agency in California. However, we recommend you contact the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General (AG). Business and Professions Code Section 17509, states that civil and criminal penalties may apply to any person engaged in unfair trade practices and for certain false or misleading advertising. Therefore, a suspected false advertisement or misleading statements and business practices should be registered with the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General (AG). You may contact the AG directly at the following:

California Department of Justice
Office of the Attorney General
PO Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Toll free: (800) 952-5225 (in California)
Telephone: (916) 322-3360
Web site: http://www.caag.state.ca.us

You may use the following link to the California AG’s office to file a complaint:
http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=CL

We also suggest you follow-up with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) regarding the status of your complaint. BBB’s are nonprofit organizations that promote an ethical marketplace by encouraging honest business advertising and selling practices. They offer a variety of consumer services including information about a business, particularly whether or not there are unanswered or unsettled complaints. For more information, please visit the BBB Web site at: http://www.bbb.org.

Lastly, we recommend you contact the District Attorney’s office to file a complaint. Many local district attorneys, through consumer fraud units, prosecute fraudulent practices in their communities or will investigate complaints. Investigators are assigned to each District Attorney branch location in the County and to a variety of special units. Special units personnel work directly with deputy district attorneys in the office’s specialized programs to combat gangs, public corruption, organized crime, family violence, stalking, hate crimes, consumer fraud, and other high impact crimes. You may find a list of DA’s offices on our Web site at: http://www.dca.ca.gov/r_r/distat1.htm.

Finally, you may wish to review the DCA’s publication entitled “Consumer Self-Help, Tips & Resources to Resolve Consumer Complaints.” This brochure offers tips to consumers on how to resolve their own complaints, resources they may contact for assistance, and also includes a sample complaint letter to a business. You may access this publication on our Web site at: http://www.dca.ca.gov/r_r/consumer-selfhelp.pdf.

Again, thank you for contacting the DCA.

If you have been a victim of the FreeNEzy.com scam or the Reservation Rewards scam, or any other scam, I would encourage you to use this information and file complaints. We cannot allow scammers to operate unchecked!

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Scams | Leave a comment

Another Scammer Speaks – FreeNEzy.com

4/22/08 Update:  The FreeNEzy.com website written about in this post appears to have been sold and under new management, as documented on this recent post. While this change in ownership does not change any of the events that have occurred previously with this site (and my friend never got his reward), there is currently no evidence we are aware of that the new owner has continued any of the fraudulent practices previously associated with the site. As always, use caution when dealing with this or any other site.

I’m not quite the king of all media just yet, but I do take pride in the great influence my humble blog has. I posted months ago about the Reservation Rewards scam, and sometime later had a representative of the site come here to defend themselves.

Well, it has happened again, this time with the FreeNEzy.com scam run by Vikram Jhaveri. I posted some time ago about this piece of work who went onto the forums at SlickDeals posing as a regular user to promote his site. In response hundreds of SlickDeals users signed up for his site and completed offers to accumulate points to redeem for awards that in many cases never came. Smart users on SlickDeals eventually figured out that the SlickDeals post was self-promotion and had the post removed. Users who hadn’t received their awards then received excuses and lies, some had their accounts mysteriously deleted, and some were even accused of fraud themselves (how ironic!). To help protect others from being victims of this scam, I posted about it on this blog.

Well, last week the scammer himself found my blog and posted the following in the comments:

Hello,

I do not know who you are, but i am assuming you are a disgrunted member. This website was pointed out to me. If you let me correct the problem, I am sure we can work something out. Do let me know.
We are not a scam site. All our members were paid. Members that had to wait too long were even given bonus $25 Amazon Gift Certificates.

Let me explain what happened. Slickdeals.net admin found that i was the owner for the site i was promoting as a member. So they deleted the post.

This caused panic and members started redeeming products like crazy. Imagine 500 Members x $200 Products = $100000 in Products Redeemed. Our credit cards were maxed and we had to wait till the month end to get paid to pay the bills to send more orders in.

So orders that we usually send in 3 days took 3 weeks. But every one did get paid whatever they were supposed too.

In addition we did have database errors. Some account were deleted automatically. But when the error was found, within a month we moved to a dedicated server and eliminated that error forever.

I am not sure under which category you are. But if you let me, i am sure we can fix your problem if we havent already.

Thanks.
Vikram Jhaveri

To which I responded:

Vikram –

Actually I am not a disgruntled member. Thankfully I never signed up for your site, so you didn’t get the opportunity to screw me. However, I have followed the thread detailing your scams on Slickdeals and I know well one of your users that never received anything but a series of lies to constant inquiries and requests for the item he EARNED. Logic dictates that if in my small circle of friends there is a user that you still haven’t made whole, there are most certainly others out there in the same situation as my friend.

I would ask why you didn’t just give your users the same story you have given here if it was the truth? That would have been preferable to lying to your customers and even accusing some of fraud themselves as has been reported in the Slickdeals thread. I would also ask what became of the accounts that were “automatically” deleted? Did you ever restore all of these accounts, or were they a victim of your mysterious “database errors”?

I tell you what – if you make my friend whole, I will report such on this blog. My readers will be able to see that a disgruntled user has finally been made whole after all hope was lost. I will not tell you who my friend is, except that you should know who exactly you screwed over before as most of them likely emailed you in futile attempts to get their awards. Make all of those people whole, and you will get my friend in that process and I will post that he has been made whole. If disgruntled members are as rare as you indicate, that should be a pretty simple process. I will be sure to check in with my friend over the next several weeks to determine if he ever got his award, as well as the $25 Amazon gift certificate since supposedly everyone else got as an apology for the delays.

Finally, he responded to my post without addressing the issue of my friend who is STILL waiting on his item with the following sob story:

Well we did have actual problems.

1. One of our affiliate sites did accuse us of fraud. It was MaxBounty.com our account was suspended immediately. Thus we suspended accounts of members that had multiple freeNezy accounts to look into. Even today MaxBounty did not pay us and we do not do business with them.

2. We did have database erros. Some accounts instead of being suspended were being deleted. We posted that message on our site and moved to a dedicated server within a month.

3. All deleted and suspended accouts have been restored. All rewards have been Delivered. Most members contacted our live chat and received their product with a few days once we were up and running with 100% efficiency.

As for mistakes. WE all make mistakes. Atleast we admit that we did do something wrong. And are now correcting it. We are also taking measures to prevent that from ever happening again. Also slickdeals would not let us create an account to explain what went wrong. They somehow blocked our computer, not just the ip address.

Hope this helps. We are trying to correct the wrong we have done. Everyone deserves a second chance.

With that, let me make my last comments on this for now. As far as I am concerned, this is just the latest in the string of excuses and lies from this guy. Again, I know for a certainty that my friend rightfully earned the award he requested, that his account was deleted (likely in an attempt to eliminate the record of his having earned his reward), that his inquiries and requests for his earned award were met with lies and excuses, and that he was wrongfully accused of fraud himself in a last ditch attempt to get my friend off Mr. Jhaveri’s case. The assertion that all awards have been delivered is an outright lie AND MR. JHAVERI KNOWS IT!

As I said before, if my friend does finally receive his award and the $25 Amazon gift certificate that was supposedly given everyone else who experienced delays in receiving their items, I will post on this blog that he did finally receive his item. I do believe in second chances, however those second chances must be earned through actions, not words alone. My desire is that all of the victims are made whole, not just my friend, so I will not share his personal details to force Mr. Jhaveri to make good on your commitments to all of his users.

For anyone else that was a victim of this scam, I would encourage you to post your experiences here to add to the dialogue. I will also post tomorrow some good information on dealing with these types of scams that was provided to my friend when he submitted a complaint to the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

September 16, 2007 Posted by | GPT, Scams | , , , , | 4 Comments

Rape and Pillage Trilegiant for Free Gift Cards

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

Yesterday I posted about being shut down by Trilegiant for opening trial memberships for the promotional bonus and then cancelling. Trilegiant is a marketing company that runs several paid shopping club services with names like AutoVantage, CompleteHome, and Great Fun. Their standard MO is they advertise the service with a trial offer that is free or $1 for the first month and offer a free gift (usually a gift card) for trying the service. Your trial is only one month, and after that trial is up you are charged the full amount of an annual membership (usually about $120), unless you call to cancel.

Now, Trilegiant isn’t the most reputable company in the world. If you need proof of that just check out their BBB report, which list hundreds of complaints they just didn’t bother to respond to. This illustrates the need for caution when dealing with these people.

Can you make something off of these folks? Sure, you just have to be very careful. Raping and pillaging Trilegiant for free gift cards is pretty easy. Just remember the following:

  1. They offer multiple services and you can sign up for all of them, although I would recommend only doing one or two at a time to stay below their radar. The fiends over at SlickDeals have posted a good summary of their services and the available bonus offers for each here. If you use Mypoints.com, you can get 200 MyPoints for each service you sign up for through their site. Not all of them are offered, but it is better than nothing.
  2. Use a disposable or one-time use card when signing up for these offers. The disposable card numbers offered on old MBNA accounts now serviced by Bank of America and Charles Schwab Bank are perfect because they let you specify a dollar limit for that card number. If you don’t have a credit card that offers disposable card numbers with limits, Visa gift cards like the ones that some rebate offers pay with or that you can buy at Walgreens or the supermarket are good alternatives. Also, use disposable email addresses (just open a new Yahoo or Hotmail account) and phone numbers (see post on PrivatePhone here) to avoid unwanted telemarketing and spam. These folks have been known to charge your card without authorization, but if the card is one time use and has a limit of $2, the charge won’t go through!
  3. Make sure to write down your membership number and remember the address and phone information you provide on the membership signup, as you will need this for the bonus request forms as well as to cancel the service.
  4. Be sure to fill out the web form link or postcard for your promotional bonus. If you don’t fill it out and send it in, you won’t get the bonus! It isn’t automatic. The SlickDeals folks have linked them so you don’t even have to wait for Trilegiant to send it to you through email, but it is usually still best to wait a couple of days after signup to make sure the fulfillment service can see your membership in their system. Also, you can make your request from any of the open offers by just filling out the correct form, although you can still only do one signup bonus.
  5. Don’t shy away from the ones that offer a cash back rebate as the signup either. I did several of those and got almost all of them back paid, even when they shut down my other signups when I requested the gift cards. If you get the rebate forms offering the cash back once a quarter, be sure to hang onto those as well and use them. Even after cancelling the service, I’ve never had a problem with them paying those.
  6. Make sure you cancel the membership within the trial period or YOU WILL BE CHARGED! Be sure to write down your member number and the phone number for the service, along with the date you have to cancel by to avoid charges. When you call, be insistent on cancelling, and make sure you get a cancellation number. If you don’t have a cancellation number, there is nothing to prove you ever cancelled!
  7. Probably a good rule of thumb is to only signup up for each service every two to three months. Any more than that and you risk getting shut down.

It is worth noting that there is nothing in their terms of service that prohibits this, although they do reserve the right to cancel your memberships at any time, and I am an example that they will do that. However, this is a company that seems to take advantage of consumers, so it seems only fair that a few smart consumers take advantage of them. Have fun!

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Deals | Leave a comment

Today’s Fight: Trilegiant

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

You’ve probably seen them before. The offers come with your credit card statement each month, or in banner ads on your favorite website. They always offer a free or low cost trial of some service you’ve never heard of that you can cancel at any time, and oh yeah – they’ll give you a free gift card just for trying it out! What a deal! Right?

The company behind most of these offers is called Trilegiant, but you’ll see their services under the names CompleteHome, Great Fun, and AutoVantage, amongst others. Kind of like the credit card companies they often advertise through, they put out the almost to good to be true offer in hopes that the consumer will screw up and they’ll make a lot of money off of you. If you read the terms closely, if you don’t cancel within the trial period, your credit card will be billed for the full amount of a year’s membership, usually around $120 per year.

Luckily I am too smart to get caught in their trap, so I signed up for several of their programs, submitted the forms for the promotional bonuses, and cancelled. Unfortunately most of the bonuses never came, and today in the mail I figured out why. They sent me a letter (see attached, 20070904_tlg_0001.jpg) stating that I and/or other members of my household were abusing their services by signing up for the services for the promotional bonuses and they had cancelled my memberships (actually I cancelled them, but minor point). My brother-in-law, who lives with us and has been doing this game longer than I have, got the same letter.

However, if you read their terms, what we did is totally legit and they should still be obligated to give us our bonuses. As such, I sent the following letter to them today:

To whom it may concern:

I am quite disappointed that Trilegiant has felt the need to send me a letter informing me that they have chosen to cancel my memberships in its membership programs. Although the letter and cancellations ultimately have no effect since I had already cancelled memberships in Trilegiant programs, I am quite offended at the accusation of “abusing our services”.

I will freely admit that I signed up for several Trilegiant programs because of the promotion items that were offered as a bonus for joining. However, there is nothing in the terms of the offers which prohibits signing up for more than one Trilegiant service, cancelling said services before the trial period expires, or even signing up for services more than once in a given period. None of these points are addressed in your terms, and the signup pages for these offers simply indicate that by trying the service and completing the provided form, your promotion bonus will be sent.

As I violated none of your terms, my actions do not constitute abuse of your services. Furthermore, as I did not violate any of your terms of service and I fulfilled the terms of these offers, namely by joining the services, paying the trial membership fee, and completing the provided forms, I am fully due the promotional bonuses that your company has so far failed to send. Per my records, I am still due the following promotional bonuses in connection with Trilegiant offers:

  • AutoVantage Gold (Member #5508XXXX) – $50.00 ExxonMobil Gift Card
  • Clever Clubhouse (Member #5508XXXX) – $20.00 Blockbuster Video Gift Card
  • CompleteHome (Member #5508XXXX) – $50.00 Lowe’s Gift Card
  • HealthSaver (Member #5508XXXX) – $20.00 Bed Bath and Beyond Gift Card
  • PC Safety Plus (Member #5508XXXX) – $20.00 Cash Back
  • Travelers’ Advantage (Member #5508XXXX) – $20.00 ExxonMobil Gift Card
  • Everyday Values (Member #5508XXXX) – $20.00 Cash Back
  • Great Fun (Member #5508XXXX) – $20.00 ExxonMobil Gift Card

Although Trilegiant does reserve in its terms the right to modify offers and cancel membership, it failed to do so prior to my acceptance of the promotional bonus offers, thus it is still fully liable for honoring these offers.

Please send all of the promotional items due to the address listed above. Note that if any of the promotional items promised are not received by September 25, 2007, I will be filling formal complaints against Trilegiant with the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Office of Attorney General for the states of Texas and Connecticut, citing your false advertising and other unfair trade practices. I also retain the right to pursue collection of these claims through any other legal means necessary.

Regards, BOE

Now to see if I actually get a response. I’m not holding my breath on that one, though.

If you are interested in raping and pillaging Trilegiant for promotional bonuses, I’ll post some tips on that tomorrow. =)

September 11, 2007 Posted by | Customer Service | 2 Comments