You open up your email and there’s a message about a great-sounding call given by a big-name Internet marketing guru. The call is free, so why not?
You go to the web page, sign up for the call, and just as you click on the ‘Submit’ link, another page appears, offering you a free CD of never-before-revealed information, and all you have to do is pay for shipping.
Well, the postage is just $5.97, and sometimes as low as $2.97, so it seems like a great deal and you go for it.
A couple of weeks later, your CD arrives in the mail and a little while later, a newsletter shows up in your home’s mailbox. Sometimes, the newsletter is included in the CD package.
Sometimes the Free CD offer includes a membership to an online website providing more information, resources and teleseminars. Sometimes not. Usually, the Free CD offer page redirects to a paid seminar offer, a coaching program or something similar.
So far, so good. If the newsletter is informative and useful and you want to get more, no problem. But if the newsletter is not good, or isn’t for you, what then?
What happens next varies wildly from guru to guru. I have tried 6 or 7 Free CD offers in the last six months as a test to see what happens and how I’m treated. I can say that what happens next is a clear indicator of what kind of person the ‘guru’ is and what kind of company he/she runs.
Here are some of the things that have happened to me, from best to worst:
While I was re-reading this bonus, I noticed I hadn’t received any of the other bonuses. I never got any information about them.
You’d think that if they promised you can cancel your membership at any time, they’d give you a way to do it. Was the lack of contact information by design?
By now, I had been emailing the one contact email address they had included on the newsletter. The newsletter only stated: “To update your contact information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. But alas, no response to my multiple emails over several months.
Meanwhile, four months have gone by and I’m being charged $29.97 every month without a receipt or even a brief email letting me know that my account has been charged. And my emails and voice mail ignored.
After an exhaustive search, I dug up a fax number and attempted to send a fax. The fax started but before the paper was even pulled in, the line hung up on me. I tried again and again (10-12 times) over the course of two days and the same thing happened every time.
More digging produced a phone number with an extension. Very handy as there is no option on their voice message to find out the extensions of their departments or people. The extension led me to the wrong department, but that person was able to connect me with someone who took care of the memberships.
This person stated he has now been placed in this department full-time to take care of these types of issues. So, I’m not the only one with issues?
First he said he would only cancel my membership and I wouldn’t be billed further. He claimed every newsletter had a big yellow dot affixed to it that gave instructions on canceling. Not so, I have 3 issues in front of me and not one contains anything but an email to “update your contact information.”
Isn’t there something illegal about making false claims? Well this company is making them from the get go.
After more deliberation, he agreed to speak to the owner and his wife. He actually called back and said that the owner and his wife agreed to refund two months membership out of four. That was not sufficient for me, since I had been trying to cancel since the supposed free trial.
After bringing up several other inconsistencies and lots of aggravation, he finally agreed to issue a full refund.
Will he keep his word? That remains to be seen.
So whether you’re a newbie on the Internet, or a trusting person, proceed with care if you simply must have that free CD. Here are a few tips:
Note: Are you interested in more ‘market studies’ similar to this? Let me know and I’ll report on more of my experiences, or not, depending on your responses.