pageoneresults - 6:22 pm on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)
Recently I've been performing research into some rather deceptive business practices being used in the Search Marketing Industry. One of those that seems to be on the rise is the practice of Cramming. From the FCC...
"Cramming" is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive charges on your telephone bill. Crammers rely on confusing telephone bills in an attempt to trick consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or receive, or that cost more than the consumer was led to believe.
If you're a business and you've been approached with a free listing in a local business directory, do be very careful. Here's how it works...
Call Center manages to get in touch with someone at your business. There's a script that is used to take you through a series of questions that require you to say yes multiple times. It's all rather deceptive once you read the scripts. Your call is being recorded during this script routine.
During that conversation you're offered a free 30 day listing in a local business directory that is pretty much a shell with a Google Maps mashup. Most businesses will say no to the offer but not before being taken through the yes routines in the script.
You would think everything was hunky dory after saying no to the offer but it doesn't end there. At some point, charges begin to appear on your telephone bill that apparently many businesses don't pay much attention to or they are labeled in a way that makes them look like regular monthly charges, it's very deceptive and easy to miss on many business phone bills.
There was a suit filed by the Illinois State Attorney General in 2006 where one particular company have made over 7,500 charges in a 2 year period totaling over $250,000.00.
Madigan Files Suit Against Alleged Phone Bill Crammers
You can prevent this from happening by calling your telephone provider and blocking third party billing. If you're a business that has a large volume of calls where $49.95 per month wouldn't be noticed, I'd take a real close look at your bills and any additional charges listed. If you find that you've been a victim of cramming, you'll need to contact the company cramming you to start the process of recovering your monies.
Be prepared for resistance when asking for a refund. You will most likely be told that there is a recording of you saying yes to the monthly service fees. This is where it gets really shady. According to various complaints online, some are stating that the yes answers are being dubbed into the recordings where no answers were given. There's nothing official to back that claim up but it sure smells that way when you see all the complaints, there are 100s of them.
Have you been Crammed?