Consumers love to read reviews before they buy products and services, but they need to be skeptical at some review sites. The BBB has uncovered one phony site that is being used to market auto service contracts.
The review site, CarProtectionReviews.com, lists only three contract vendors, all of them linked to the same office complex in suburban St. Louis. Greg Laptevsky of New York operates CarProtectionReviews.com.
The St. Louis area company, Automotive Service Protection, is one of the three firms listed by CarProtectionReviews.com. But the other two companies, Repair Service Plan Dealer and My Direct Protect, have used the same addresses as Auto Service Protection.
Automotive Service Protection, owned by Joshua Freeman, denies any intention to mislead customers with the review site. The BBB was alerted to the company’s allegedly deceptive marketing by two former employees, who said they left the company because of the practices.
A BBB news release about the companies is available online.
The BBB in St. Louis has been investigating the auto service contract industry for more than seven years. The BBB worked with state and federal agencies in the investigation of US Fidelis, a defunct St. Charles County firm. The founders of US Fidelis were convicted of fraud charges and have been sentenced to prison terms.
The BBB has received thousands of complaints about the vehicle service contract business in recent years. Tips for consumers considering such contracts include:
- Be cautious of websites or marketing materials that purport to rank auto service contract firms. The sites may be no more than a marketing gimmick for companies linked to the firms.
- Do not be pressured to make a quick decision. Beware of solicitors who say their deal is available for a limited time only.
- Make sure you obtain and read service contracts before buying them. The coverage you are buying depends on that contract, not on oral promises from a salesperson.
- Check with a trusted mechanic to determine whether the contract will cover the repairs you are likely to need.
- Check any company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.