Wisconsin BBB has been receiving a steady stream of complaints against “A2Z Offsite” of River Falls from small businesses throughout the U.S., since late January.
Twenty-seven complaints have been received from businesses in fourteen states; California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Oregon, with the most being from Michigan (4).
All of the complainants are businesses, and report they received an invoice for $49.95 for computer backup service they did not need, request, authorize or receive. Some businesses received a bill for $99.90, indicating a “past due amount”, and some report receiving letters from a collection agency for non-payment. Bills appear to be for a running monthly charge. Complainants state that when they called the company to dispute the bill, they were directed to fill out the company's cancellation form, which can be downloaded on its website, and informed of an "early cancellation fee" of $200. Some report not being able to reach the company by phone. None of the businesses report ever receiving any service from A2Z Offsite.
The BBB began to see a pattern in complaints early on. Of the 27 complaints, eleven are from churches and religious organizations, five from veterinary clinics and three from independent insurance agents. Three complainants state they do not even have a computer.
Terry B., an independent insurance agent in Minnesota, says he received an invoice in the mail for $49.95 from A2Z Offsite. He says, “First of all, the agency takes care of all my computer needs and I would never have agreed to anything like this. Second, I am not that computer savvy and would have consulted with someone before ever subscribing to anything. What’s irritating is that this invoice looks authentic and the price is low enough that someone who was merely a bill payer would probably not question paying this. Because I’m a small office and handle all of the bills, I questioned it.”
Rachel B. of California says when she was told of the early cancellation fee, she demanded proof of a signed contract. She says, “The company sent me a recording of my voice supposedly answering a question but never agreeing to a contract. It had to be the worst effort of pieced together audio I have ever heard.”
The company has been responsive to complaints, in some cases stating the business accepted its service via a prior telephone call, and cancelling the charges.
The company's website says it “automatically sends a paper invoice by mail each month.” The first invoice is sent within 30 days of account signup, and the business has two weeks to pay the amount before it is considered “late.” It also states, “Non-payment may result in your backed up data being deleted and your account being sent to collections.” The website, which lists a Post Office box in River Falls, does state it has a money-back guarantee. The website has several spelling errors. A2Z Offsite is not listed as being incorporated with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
On March 1, the Wisconsin BBB requested A2Z Offsite substantiate what service is being provided to its clients along with an explanation of how it obtains out-of-state business’ contact information. The Wisconsin BBB also requested an explanation of the company’s “No fuss solution to getting all your files backed up” (per its website), its explanation of costs and services, a copy of its contract, and explanation of its money-back guarantee.
On March 14, A2Z Offsite principal Hans Paulson responded, by stating “A2Z Offsite markets to business(es) and not individuals via outbound telemarketing. Acceptance of the service is completed with a verbal authorization which includes the person on the phone confirming that they are able to make a purchasing decision on behalf of the company.” It says its customer base “exists in major U.S. cities” but not yet in the state of Wisconsin. The company says it is experiencing “growing pains” and says that some issues during the sales call process “could have caused some customers to not fully understand the service offered sufficiently.” The company also stated it is currently reviewing its sales process so that A2Z Offsite agents are held more accountable. According to the company, they have reviewed their customer service process and have implemented a new training program for personnel. The company did not directly address the pattern of allegations brought forth by consumers, specifically, that consumers had not ordered the service for which they are being billed for.
The Wisconsin BBB advises businesses who have received an invoice in which they are disputing to file a complaint with the BBB and include a copy of the bill.
The BBB offers these tips:
· Review all invoices closely, and check invoices with products or services received.
· Watch for invoices from unusual places.
· Scrutinize any solicitation that attempts to collect on products or services outside the scope of your normal routine.
· Confirm orders with the firm and/or with whomever authorized the purchase.
· Avoid payment until you know that the goods or services were ordered and received.
· Contact the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org to check out a suspicious company, invoice or check.
Below is an example of an A2Z Offsite invoice: