Thursday, April 01, 2010

Open Letter to (Scam)

Dear Bill Strauss,

I am writing to let you know that I am among the hundreds of people who have been defrauded of over $100 by your company's deceptive and misleading business practices. As I'm sure you're aware, customers who order flowers from or goodies from or those of your partners are lured into getting "free shipping" coupons or other discounts for clicking a coupon that shows up at the end of their order or in their email box after they order - what they don't realize is that clicking the coupon itself automatically enters them in a recurring subscription to an "Easy Saver" program at $14.95 a month.

Nowhere on the coupon does it state that clicking the link will automatically enroll them in this program. *After,* they click, they're told what the program is. Like many consumers, this is where I stopped. I did not continue enrolling in the program (foolishly thinking I'd have had to enter my cc information, or at least click an "OK" or "Agree" button. Ha! So naive!). Since I had deliberately chosen not to save my credit card information on your site, I believed this meant my information was secure, as I hadn't signed up for anything and a third party biller shouldn't have had access to my credit card information.

As I hadn't been using my credit card much the last 9 months (I have been working diligently to pay this off), I had no reason to check over my statements... not until the last month, when I had to lean on my credit card to get by between jobs. And then I found out what you guys were up to.

This deceptive little cash cow, I know, was concocted by Encore Marketing . The fact that they can't name you directly as the client in their "successful" case study on their website (which I can't directly link to because they built their site in flash, which tells you what a premier marketing company this is) is very telling about how proud both of you are with this strategy.

As a communications professional familiar with firms who have a similarly short-term profit strategy, I wanted to advise you against continuing these deceptive practices. I understand that charging folks $14.95 a month is wonderful for positive monthly cash flow. But I've also seen how quickly complaints pile up on the complaints boards (here and here to name a few) and the news stories that start highlighting consumers who've been defrauded, and I've seen how repeat business dries up, forcing companies to rely on more and more deceptive marketing practices just to make ends meet. The "ProFlowers is a scam" group on Facebook only has 15 friends as of yet, but I figure if I put out a few Facebook ads - investing no more than you and your company defrauded me of - will help it get some traffic.

I am incredibly disappointed in this practice not just because, you know, it's wrong, but because your products are so *good.* You have *great products.* You don't need to be fraudulent and deceptive and defraud people's grandmothers of $14.95 a month plus the inevitable 18-25% interest rate they're being charged by their crappy-ass bank.

You can run a better company than that.

I am currently working through your company's customer service channels to get all the fraudulent charges refunded to my account in full. That said, getting back the interest that's been charged to my card for these charges will be harder. I pity the grandmothers who have 20% interest rates.

Until then, I'll be sharing my Proflowers/Cherry Moon Farms horror story on my blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, and engaging with your lively Facebook fans. I have also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and am working on one for the Attorney General.

Shame on you. And shame on

Good luck.

Kameron Hurley


This is why you complain, people:

Dear Mr.(sic) Hurley,
Please accept my most sincere apologies. I was recently informed that you enrolled in our EasySaver Rewards partner program and that enrollment in this program was not your intention.  I have called EasySaver Rewards on your behalf in order to cancel your membership and procure a refund.  When I called I found that your membership has already been cancelled and the refund of $14.95 has already been applied.  I then had them refund the additional charges of $149.50 (10 months x $14.95 a month) and $1.95, the full amount of fees charged to you for this program.  In most cases you will see the refund appear on your billing statement in just a few days, however please allow 1-2 billing cycles for the refunds to process, depending on the terms of your specific card issuer.  We have a partnership with EasySaver Rewards where we provide customers an opportunity to click on and enroll in their service from our “order confirmation page” after placing an order with us.   I’d like to apologize for any confusion you may have had over the enrollment process with this partner offer.

If you have the opportunity and would like to discuss this with me in further detail, my phone number is 858.909.3785.  I am typically in the office from 8am to 5pm, Pacific Time.  I am also always available via email. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is ever anything more I can do for you.



My Response:


Thank you for your prompt response. The monetary expenditure was terrible for me, but I know it was worse for others who have cards with higher interest rates right now. I'm more devastated by the deception. Your company has some excellent products, and it's a shame that I can no longer recommend Proflowers or their affiliates in good conscience.

Thank you again. I'll be watching my account for the credit.