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28 counties covering Western Pennsylvania
BBB Hot Topics - August 2012
August 22, 2012

Pittsburgh, PA – August 22, 2012 – The Better Business Bureau of Western PA’s Hot Topics is a monthly alert regarding companies across all industries that are currently targeting Western Pennsylvania consumers. The Hot Topics list and information is also available on the BBB website under the News Center.

According to Warren King, President of the Better Business Bureau, “The BBB’s goal in creating Hot Topics is to help educate and protect the marketplace from businesses targeting local consumers.”

The following report is based on your BBB’s research as of August 22, 2012 and includes information received at our office on companies marketing to local Pennsylvanians. Click on the company name for an updated BBB report. Please take into consideration the importance of the practice and total performance of the company. To access over four million companies nationwide, visit www.bbb.org.

  1. Common Wealth Federal Holdings – Escrow Service

Common Wealth Federal Holdings is an escrow company involved in a timeshare resale scheme. On July 25, 2012, BBB verified that this company is not currently registered with the Department of State to do business in PA. BBB also confirmed that the Pittsburgh address provided by the company is fictitious per the owners of that actual property. Consumers allege that they have lost money from sale commission, have not received money from the sale of timeshare rights and that timeshare sale paperwork is incorrect. For BBB timeshare sale and resale tips, visit www.bbb.org.

  1. Financial Services Center – Advance fees for loan modification

An F rated company, Financial Services Center has had 52 complaints closed with BBB in the last 12 months. Complainants allege the company collects advance fees for loan modification document preparation, but that loan modifications are not filed with lenders as agreed. Complainants allege they are unable to obtain refunds of advance payments, or unable to cancel pre-arranged bank debits. Some complainants report they are sent to collections when services are canceled. The business has not responded to 12 BBB complaints filed against it and has 3 unresolved complaints and 2 serious complaints. View BBB’s tips on loan modification.

  1. Magic Kids, Inc. – Online store and work-at-home opportunity

Based out of California, Magic Kids, Inc. has 42 complaints closed with BBB in the last 3 years and has not responded to 19 complaints. Some complainants allege difficulty obtaining customer support to return merchandise or to obtain refunds. Other complainants allege they cannot reach the company by phone and attempts to return merchandise were unsuccessful. Some claim that the company’s advertising regarding its work-at-home opportunity misrepresented the offer or that they did not make any money and thus were dissatisfied and requested refunds but failed to receive any. The company responds to some complaints by issuing refunds as per their agreement or explaining the terms of their agreements. In a few cases, the company contends that the complainants were outside any refund period but in some cases offered a partial refund. Take BBB’s tips into consideration when you apply for a work-at-home position or shop online.

4. Mid American Opportunity Research Enterprises, Inc. – Multi-level selling company

Based on consumer complaints, M.O.R.E. Inc. consistently misrepresents its services, return on investments and general business programs through its advertising and promotional campaigns. BBB stresses that consumers need to read the agreement before they sign it because they only have 30 days to request a refund if they decide not to participate in the program. Some complainants state that upon responding to the company’s offer, there were additional monthly fees or that the company did not provide the additional services it stated would be available. The company has failed to substantiate advertising claims when requested by BBB in 2007 and 2009 and BBB believes M.O.R.E’s advertising campaigns can be misleading to consumers.Based on consumer complaints, M.O.R.E. Inc consistently misrepresents its services, return on investments, and general business programs through its advertising and promotional campaigns.Based on consumer complaints, M.O.R.E. Inc consistently misrepresents its services, return on investments, and general business programs through its advertising and promotional campaigns.

  1. Progressive Business Publications – Business Directory

BBB has closed 2,035 complaints against Progressive Business Publications in the last 3 years and 887 complaints in the last 12 months. While this company has responded to BBB complaints and concerns, its business performance record demonstrates a pattern alleging billing for unordered merchandise. The company claims that it tapes telephone solicitations for quality control purposes and that it obtains the ordering person's birth date to verify the order. The company claims it has a liberal cancellation policy permitting customers to cancel anytime within the first 3 months of the telephone order and receive refunds on all unsent issues. The company claims its BBB complaint volume is negligible compared to its volume of business.

  1. Warranty Activation Headquarters – Auto service contract company

Complainants of Warranty Activation Headquarters primarily allege difficulty cancelling and obtaining refunds, misleading advertisements, poor customer service, failure to cover repair costs and misrepresentation of the warranty coverage. Other complainants of this F rated company allege the company used misleading sales tactics, made harassing calls and sent flyers after the consumer asked that contact cease. Warranty Activation Headquarters was included in a 6 vehicle extended warranty lawsuit filed by the Missouri Attorney General, charging it with unfair and deceptive practices violations. The company has also failed to respond to a BBB ad review challenge. Check out BBB’s tips on auto service contracts for more industry information.

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