Jeremy Stein - Journal

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I Got Scammed

I’m getting a lot of visitors who were scammed by ChampKicks.com. If you’re one of them, I suggest you check out these links:

Good luck. Let me know if you were successful.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled rant…

On Thursday, July 22nd, I received a call from a telemarketer representing Choice One. She identified herself as “Roma”.

I used to be on the New York State “Do Not Call” registry. But a couple of years ago, I submitted a written request to have my number removed from the list after reading a Discipleship Journal article that described how someone decided to use telemarketer calls as an opportunity for evangelism. Now, when a telemarker calls, I ask “is this a solicitation?” When they say, “yes”, I respond “I’ll give you a few minutes of my time if, when you’re finished, you will give me a few minutes of your time.” After their pitch is over, I ask them about their eternal future and explain the gospel.

Since I want them to listen to my explanation of the good news, I generally feel like I ought to give full consideration to whatever they are selling. Thus, I listened to Roma’s pitch for Choice One’s local telephone service plan.

Roma offered unlimited local calling, 200 minutes of long distance, and all the features (caller ID, voicemail, etc.) they had for $34.95/month. We have dial-up internet access, and I thought it might be nice to avoid the busy signals people get when they call us and we’re online or otherwise on the phone. I pointed out that my bill would actually be considerably larger than $34.95/month since there are all the taxes, fees, and surcharges, like the FCC’s customer access line charge. Roma assured me that the $34.95/month includes the customer access line charge and that my total bill with taxes would be about “$38 or $39” per month. I was very surprised and asked her to confirm that the FCC charge was included. She did. Furthermore, Roma told me that if I was not satisfied, Choice One would pay to switch me back. I asked her to confirm that Roma mean that Choice One would pay any fees charged by Frontier for me to switch back. She did.

I told Roma that I make it a practice to never sign up for something on the spot. I would be happy to consider the offer and get back to her. She tried to make a hard-sell and asked my objections. I said I wanted time to look over all the details. She faxed the information to me and arranged to call back the next day.

After she was finished, I asked her about her eternal destination and learned that she was hoping to get to heaven because she was a good person. I pointed out some Bible verses that contradicted her assumptions and discussed it for a while. I encouraged her to consider these things as we finished our call.

After I reviewed the information she had faxed, I called Frontier (the local telephone company) and asked if they had any comparable plans. They said that they had a similar plan for $35/month, but it does not include the customer access line charge.

When Roma called back the next day, I noted that the information she had sent did not say that the customer access line charge was included in the price. Roma assured me that it was. I agreed to sign up for the plan. (After I signed up, I followed up on the gospel. She asked me if I was a priest or something. I was able to explain why I, a normal [well, mostly normal] person would be so concerned about spiritual matters.)

It took several weeks for Choice One to take over my telephone. During that time, I found free internet call waiting service. However, after the switch to Choice One, I learned that Choice One does not offer fixed busy call forwarding, required for internet call waiting. I was disappointed. I called Frontier and learned that not only do they offer this service, but they had a plan with all the calling features for $30/month. I don’t know why they didn’t mention it when I had called them before.

I decided to switch back. That’s when I learned that the statements that “we’ll switch you back for free” were false. Choice One was perfectly willing to disconnect me, but they said that they couldn’t switch me back; Frontier had to do that. Frontier was happy to sign me back up, but they charged $33 for their effort. They were not willing to waive that fee.

A few weeks later, I received my Choice One bill. The FCC customer access line charged was listed as a separate item in addition to the $34.95 montly charge. I called customer service and reminded them of their pitch. They said that they didn’t know anything about the telemarketing company that had misrepresented the cost of the service. They couldn’t tell me which telemarketing company had signed me up. I asked if they could tell who received the commission on the sale; they claimed they could not. They did not honor the promise made by this third party.

I know the dates I received the calls (July 22 and 23) and the person who made the promises (Roma), but I don’t have anything in writing and I have no way to trace the company who called me. I thought I was being careful by having Roma carefully confirm each item at issue. I think that did prevent miscommunication, but it didn’t prevent fraud.

Lessons learned:

  1. Telemarketers have no stake in the sale. They can say anything to get the commission and run.
  2. Get it in writing. A verbal assurance in addition to what’s in writing is worthless.
  3. Before signing up with the solicitor, call the actual company to confirm
  4. Find out who’s really calling you. Get the name of the telemarketing company.

Cost of lessons: $33 reconnection fee + $4 unexpected FCC fee. Not too bad a price, if it keeps me from making the same mistakes again.

Now, I wonder if my wife will let me install a recording device on our home phone…

October 13, 2004 10 Comments.

10 Comments

  1. Shannon replied:

    no recording devices!!!!

    October 13th, 2004 at 6:05 pm. Permalink.

  2. Bob Aman replied:

    Our phone has a “memo” feature, but in reality, it just records the conversation you’re having on the phone at the moment to the answering machine. However, if I were to press the memo button and fail to mention to the person on the other end that I had done so, I believe that that would have constituted an illegal wiretap, and as such, would be a felony offense. And given that your purpose seems to be to hold people to their word, you would have to present that tape as evidence, which would be somewhat counter productive.

    Now, that presents a different alternative.

    What if you ask the telemarketer, “Do you mind if I record this call?”

    If they say no, don’t buy what they’re selling. If they say yes, they’re probably about 100 times less likely to try to scam you.

    October 14th, 2004 at 8:03 pm. Permalink.

  3. Jeremy replied:

    It is legal in New York State to tape a call as long as at least one party knows what’s happening.

    October 14th, 2004 at 10:02 pm. Permalink.

  4. Julie replied:

    I think I was acammed too.. I odered two pairs of shoes from CHAMPKICKS.com and I only received onhe pair though. They sent me an email tellin me that the second pair was out of stock and for me to send them a new item number. By this time I was so tired of waiting almost 2 weeks when I was promised the shoes in 7-9 days, I told them that I just wanted my refund put back in my account. I never got an email back YET! I called the phone number on the site and the person who answers never helps me with any thing. He promised me on two different occasions that my money would be put back in my account by the end of that day. Still its been almost a month and still no money. I have a baby and I could really use that money now. Do you know of anything I could do to get my money back.. I would greatly appreicate any help!!! Thanks, Julie

    August 27th, 2005 at 2:54 pm. Permalink.

  5. Jeremy replied:

    If you have been charged for a product you never received, then there are several courses of action you may take:

    1. If you paid by credit card, call your credit card company to withhold payment on the portion of the charge corresponding to the unreceived product.
    2. If you can figure out who the physical company is, you can complain to the appropriate local authority. Unfortunately, champkicks.com has hidden their identity through domainsbyproxy.com. You may be able to get some help through them, but it’s unlikely. Perhaps you can get the information you need to identify them from the bank transaction that transferred the funds to them.
    3. Keep calling. It costs them to handle customer service calls. Ask for their names. Write down what was promised. Record the conversation if you can.
    4. Try some of ScamBuster’s suggestions

    August 27th, 2005 at 8:47 pm. Permalink.

  6. Ryan replied:

    I ordered a pair of shoes from CHAMPKICKS.com about 4 weeks ago. They said it would be sent within 8-10 business days. I have yet to get anything from these people! I email them and there is no respose, i have called them too but no one ever picks up. Im really pissed. Does anyone have any ideas on what i can do? They charged me 114 $ also.

    September 12th, 2005 at 6:56 pm. Permalink.

  7. Jeremy replied:

    Hi, Ryan.

    Champkicks.com is only a couple letters down from Everybody.org, so I just walked over to find out what the problem is. Lo and behold, they weren’t even there! It looks like it was some fly-by-night company. I left them a note saying that they’d better return Ryan’s $114 or else.

    Hope that helps!

    September 12th, 2005 at 7:46 pm. Permalink.

  8. Ryan replied:

    Thanks J. Yah, some people say that they havnt got their shoes and others say that they recieved theirs. so im just trying to figure out if they are a 100% Fake company. I sent them an email sayin that if they didnt respond to my emails then i would talk to the authorities. maybe that will scare the idiots at champkicks. :)

    September 12th, 2005 at 9:57 pm. Permalink.

  9. sonya replied:

    hello jeremy,I TOO, have not recieved my shoes from champkicks.com. i am out of 104$ it has been over a month and still nothing.they wont answer emails or the phone, which is now disconected.what would you suggest i do to rectify this situation?

    September 15th, 2005 at 10:02 am. Permalink.

  10. Jeremy replied:

    My only other suggestion is this FTC page. I just posted a link to it at the top of this post also.

    September 15th, 2005 at 1:42 pm. Permalink.

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