Complaint Category: Sales presentation misrepresented the service
Complaint: While searching on the Internet for a listing of senior living facilities in a specific locale, I came across a site that offered to provide just that. Of course, I had to provide contact information in order to see the list, but that didn't seem out of the ordinary. I received a phone call within 30 seconds of entering my phone number - really, that should have been a clue.
After an error in the identification of the locale was detected, I was told I would receive a call from someone familiar with the area about which I was inquiring. When I recieved that call from Tammy Singer of "A Place for Mom," she described her role as a "matchmaker" and stated that there was no cost to "the family" because the companies services were paid by "communities throughout the country." I even asked her to repeat and clarify that information, and she replied that "communities" appreciated the services they provided to families in need of this information. I take responsibility for interpreting "communities" as municipalities, as in "community college," as I believe was intended; certainly, "communities" was not intended to suggest to me that the company would be payed a "finder's fee" by a senior living facility (or home care provider) for any senior who took up residence (or contracted services)after being referred (on the basis of this call) to the senior living facilty or home care company.
I admit freely, to being duped by the friendly, caring "advisor" into giving too much information including my mother's name.
I discovered later that night how the company is reimbursed, and how the "settling in" fee at a facility is coincidentally the same amount (equal to one month's fees) that the facility will be paying A Place for Mom.
Furthermore, I found out that because A Place for Mom has my mother's name, and can now refer her to any facility or home care service as a potential customer, they are entitled to this finder's fee at any time in the future.
I have no problem with anyone providing a service being compensated for that service, but if this company believes their practices to be above board, why employ deceptive practices about their compensation when gathering information from the unwitting "client"? This deception certainly makes me wary of anything they recommend, especially the advisor's statements about "not usually recommending the less lucrative home care."
At no time during our conversation was I aware that I would be represented by A Place for Mom, and certainly, at no time did I authorize them to represent my mother who doesn't even know about the call yet.
I have tried contacting the "advisor," and have left e-mail and voice mail messages telling her she does not have my permission to represent me or my mother to facilities or companies. I have spoken with a call-center operator (before west coast business hours) who assured me she would send the "advisor" an e-mail message telling her that I wanted her not to make any contacts on my behalf. I requested that I be copied that message, but I have not received it yet. I have called corporate headquarters and left a message detailing my complaint and order to not represent me, but I have not had a reply to that message yet either. (I can't help draw a comparison between yesterday's lightning fast response and today's lack of responses.)
Business' Initial Response
A Place for Mom ("APFM") would like to take this opportunity to explain and clarify its business practices.
How APFM Is Paid. On its website and in its communications to consumers, APFM discloses clearly that the service is offered at no charge to consumers because participating communities pay a fee to APFM. The community only pays APFM a fee if the consumer moves into the community.
Regarding Complaint Case #XXXXXXXX:
Ms. ***** admits that she misinterpreted "community" to be a city or community college. This is not a common misconception. Assisted living housing units are usually referred to as "communities" in industry parlance.
APFM has researched Ms. *****'s claim that the "settling fee" charged by the community is the same amount of APFM's fee. APFM has found no facts to support that claim. Some communities do charge its residents an entrance fee, which is a fee charged to all residents, regardless of how the resident found the community. However, APFM prohibits the community from passing ******* the APFM referral fees to the consumer by charging the consumer any additional amounts because the consumer used our services, or withholding any discounts for which the consumer may qualify.
Full Disclosure/No Misrepresentation. APFM has never alleged that it is a representative for or has authority from Ms. *****.
APFM respects all consumer requests to receive no further contact. APFM has already taken appropriate measures to ensure that it will not contact Ms. ***** again. APFM wrote to Ms. ***** on May 1, ****, and expressed that when she contacted APFM through its website, assistingliving.com, APFM then communicated senior living options for her mother. APFM explained to Ms. ***** that APFM did not represent her as a client. APFM also sent a communication to the senior living communities, advising them that Ms. ***** did not wish to be further contacted by them. APFM advised Ms. ***** that she should contact the senior living communities directly to advise them that she did not wish to communicate further with the senior living communities.
APFM believes that Ms. ***** does not understand its services. Hopefully this response has given her additional clarification, in line with the disclaimers and representations on the APFM website.
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Why would "A Place For Mom" think my complaint should be marked "resolved - assumed satisfied" when I have made it very clear that I am not satisfied with their response to my complaint. I agree that the case should be closed, but it should be marked "unresolved." Consumers who check with the Better Business Bureau before contacting the company should not be misled by a statement that suggests I am satisfied with the response from "A Place For Mom."
Business' Final Response
A Place for Mom, Inc. has provided complete, timely, and responsive answers to the Complainant. We ask that the BBB close this case as it earlier did on May 22, ****, as " resolved - assumed satisfied."
Complaint Resolution: BBB determined the company provided proper verification that indicated there was no obligation to resolve the issues of the complaint.