Dallas, TX, July 26, 2012 -- Customers who bought into phone solicitations for magazine subscriptions from Coastal Readers Service, Inc. of Dallas, TX, are now complaining to BBB that the business deceptively trapped them into multi-year contracts and is sending bills that often exceed $1,000 in charges.
Better Business Bureau has received over 100 complaints from all across the country since September, 2011.
“Although Coastal Readers Service answers complaints and provides refunds in most cases, the troubling complaints continue,” said Jeannette Kopko, spokesperson for the BBB serving Dallas and Northeast Texas. “The BBB expects that businesses should not only address individual complaints, but also look into and correct any sales practices which cause those complaints.”
Due to the company’s complaint record, Coastal Readers Service, Inc., has a BBB rating of F, the lowest rating on a scale from A+ to F. Of the 104 complaints on the business, 94 are closed, with most of those resolved and 2 unresolved. The other 10 complaints – all filed since mid-June – are awaiting an answer by the business or confirmation from the customer that the matter has been resolved.
The complaints started about the same time the Florida corporation started using a virtual office space in the Dallas area. With a virtual office service, a business can make arrangements to use the virtual office location as the business’s address.
Complaints from consumers in New York to Hawaii say Coastal Readers Service telemarketers posed as the customer's current magazine subscription company, or claimed that the customer won a sweepstakes and must buy a magazine subscription in order to receive a gift or prize.
Similar sales practices by other magazine subscription telemarketers came under fire recently in Colorado. The Colorado Attorney General’s office charged a group of several individuals and businesses in the Denver-area with misleading selling practices. A Preliminary Injunction on October 24, 2011, prohibits misrepresenting that a solicitor represents a magazine publisher, or that a consumer is a “preferred customer” being contacted for a special reason, among other practices.
According to complaints on Coastal Readers Service, customers that agree to purchase a subscription are billed large amounts for multi-year magazine subscriptions. When customers were promised a gift or prize, customers were left disappointed when the gifts or prizes were never delivered.
On May 4, 2012, the BBB contacted Coastal Readers Service regarding the pattern of complaints, and requested that the business provide the BBB with a plan to eliminate the underlying cause of its complaints. The company has not responded to the BBB’s request.
In January a woman in Euless, TX, complained that she was bullied into giving her debit card information to a Coaster Readers Service caller: “They said I had ordered magazines. I did not. We are on the do not call list. This is blatant violation of that. I am on medication and disabled, I get easily confused. … They kept calling back 3 times, yelling at me and threatening me … They wanted my [credit] card number. I told them no. They finally convinced me it was just to prove I was not the person they wanted. I fell for it … I was bullied and intimidated… Come January I get a bill saying my account is in decline mode and I need to send 39.90 or full payment for 1157.19.”
Another complaint from a consumer in Cranford, NJ, says his promised reward was never received. “I was contacted by this company Coastal Reader Services for some sort of sweepstakes and was said I was to sign up for a magazine service and would receive 1000 dollar reward after 45 days. 45 days came nothing. I called. They never heard of it now. They’re claiming I am locked into another 30 months of magazine subscription at 30 dollars a month and I would like to cancel!”
BBB accepts customer complaints and sends complaints to the business for a reply. Then BBB checks with the customer to see if the matter is resolved. Complaints are closed as resolved, unresolved, or unanswered. Information on complaints closed during the last 36 months, the BBB's standard reporting period, is included in BBB Business Reviews. BBB processes complaints on both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-accredited businesses.
BBB advises consumers to consider telephone offers for magazines subscriptions carefully:
· Understand the terms of the offer. What sounds like an offer for a year’s subscription to a magazine or two may in fact be a multi-year contract for a bundle of publications.
· Know who you’re dealing with. The caller might mention a magazine that you’re familiar with, but actually could be selling package deals for an independent subscription company. Get the name of the business and check it out. BBB Business Reviews are available online at www.bbb.org, or on your mobile device, or with the free BBB iPhone app.
· Beware high pressure or promises of prizes. Don’t buy just to get the caller off the phone, or to receive a prize. Buy based on whether the offer is right for you.
· Don’t give your credit card number or bank account number to a caller you don’t know.
To check on a business, find BBB Accredited Businesses, file a customer complaint, see tips and alerts, or report misleading advertising, start at www.bbb.org or on your mobile device http://m.bbb.org. Get the free BBB iPhone app at the app store or see www.bbb.org/iphone.
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About the BBB
The Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Dallas, Inc., is an independent, non-profit business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair business practices and works for trust in the marketplace. BBB helps consumers find and recommend businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's Standards For Trust. BBB provides services for both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-accredited businesses. BBB services include BBB Business Reviews on businesses, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by category, customer complaint resolution services, advertising review for truth in advertising, and tips and alerts for consumers and for businesses. The BBB serving Dallas and Northeast Texas was founded in 1920 and is one of 116 BBBs serving the U.S. and Canada. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB for Business Reviews, consumer tips, and scam alerts. For more, start at www.bbb.org .