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Amerimark “Passport to Health” Scam
At the beginning of January I ordered a seat cushion from a company called Amerimark. I got the cushion. It was fine. I'm sitting on it now. But a little over a month later I was looking at my credit card statement, and I noticed that in addition to the charge for the cushion, Amerimark had posted a second charge three weeks later for $3.99. I had no idea what the additional charge could be for. I asked my wife about it. She didn't know either. But I figured it must be postage, or something like that, so I didn't think any more about it. After all, it was only $3.99.

But today I was looking at my credit card statement online, and I noticed that Amerimark had recently posted a third charge to my account, this time for $29.99. Now I decided to call Amerimark to find out what these charges were for. I reached a customer service rep who told me I had subscribed to their "Passport to Health" program.

Suddenly I remember. I had received a sales call from Amerimark back in mid-January trying to get me to sign up for their "Passport to Health" program. I told them I wasn't interested and thought that was the end of it. But they had my credit card information since I bought the cushion from them, so apparently they signed me up for it anyway.

The customer rep told me that the charges were in error and that he would cancel them immediately.

But after I hung up with him, I decided to google Amerimark, and I discovered I'm not the only person who has been "mistakenly" signed up for the "Passport to Health" program. They're pulling this scam on a regular basis.

"Passport to Health" appears to be a program that offers no (or very few) benefits, except the benefit of getting charged $29.99 every month (the first month is only $3.99). The really slimy part is that many of their customers are elderly people who may be less likely to look carefully at their credit card statements, so they never notice they're being charged $29.99 every month.

For instance, 800notes.com has an entire message board full of people complaining that they were ripped off by Amerimark. One person describes how they've been "charging my 87-year old mother $29.99 a month for 'Passport To Health' that she supposedly signed up for in April '07 when they called to 'make sure her Amerimark mail order arrived safely.'"

In addition, Tom from California has posted a report on ripoffreport.com describing how he was subscribed to the "Passport to Health" program after his wife bought a pair of shoes from Amerimark.

I didn't trust Amerimark to actually credit back what they had billed me, so I called my credit card company (Bank of America) to contest the charges. While I was on the phone with the billing dispute department, I described how Amerimark was scamming elderly people, and I urged Bank of America to do something, like stop accepting charges from Amerimark. But the service rep just gave me the run-around and didn't promise to do anything.

So I'm posting about it here to help spread the word. Hopefully if someone is considering making a purchase from Amerimark, they might come across this post and decide to shop elsewhere.

In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out who else I can report Amerimark to. The FTC? Better Business Bureau? I want to bring this company down.

Update: I checked out AmeriMark's listing on the Better Business Bureau's site. It turns out that the BBB has already received a lot complaints about them (I filed one more), and particularly about their Passport to Health program. The BBB page about AmeriMark notes:

Many complaints processed by the BBB concern confusion over the company's membership renewal policy in the Passport to Savings program and the Passport to Health program (formerly known as Family Health Network program). Many consumers claim they are not aware that the company automatically bills their accounts for the renewal fee unless they notify them to cancel. Many of these consumers complain that they were not aware that they had been enrolled in the program. The company has responded to these complaints by canceling the membership and issuing refunds. In January 2005, the Cleveland BBB met with company representatives. The company has indicated its willingness to work to correct the cause of consumer misunderstanding concerning enrollment and cancellation of these programs.

Apparently AmeriMark's meeting with the BBB didn't have much impact on the company, because they're still working the same old scam.
Categories: Business/Finance
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 26, 2008
I agree with Elizabeth too.
Posted by Lida  on  Wed May 20, 2009  at  04:19 AM
I understand being upset when you are coerced and harassed. But I work for the company and there is a specific script we must follow, and the person must say yes or okay to our question specifically asking if they want it. And then they have to verify their credit card number. Most people just forget they agree to it because they only do to get us off of the phone.
Posted by Employee  on  Thu Jul 09, 2009  at  01:02 PM
Employee: I can assure you I clearly said no when asked if I wanted to enroll in the passport-to-health program. And yet, I was enrolled in it anyway.

However, the call began by asking me to "verify" my name and address, to which I said yes.

So they had me on tape saying yes to something, and apparently they figured that was good enough to warrant signing me up.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Jul 09, 2009  at  01:20 PM
Ahhh somebody may get the PASSPORT to Health (^_^)...
Posted by Diet Plan  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  07:25 AM
I just got a bill from AmeriMark Permier and I don't know what is the item i got in the first place. I am looking all over the net to get my statement online and the costomer service didn't take my information some about integer--what the hell is that. I will be calling them on Monday and figure all this out. Thank you all for the warning about there spam.
J. Gargano
Posted by Gargano1965  in  Connecticut  on  Sun Sep 13, 2009  at  10:06 AM
Attorney General's office for sure!
Posted by Lisp Speech  on  Sat Oct 03, 2009  at  12:12 PM
Amerimark is not scamming anyone. I work for this company and pitch this program all day long. They do pitch it to the elderly, but they dont target them. The elderly call us. We offer them $50 in FREE CATALOG COUPONS for trying the program. They are FREE TO CANCEL AT ANY TIME DURING THE FREE TRIAL and NEVER BE CHARGED! Just because people sign up for the program for the free coupons, does not mean we are scamming anyone. They should remeber to cancel it, they can even cancel right when they get it and STILL GET TO KEEP THE COUPONS! All calls are recorded and monitored by supervisors. If we fail to mention ANY legel issues or disclaimers we are punished, and punished very strickly. Just because we are offering a FREE TRIAL PROGRAM does not give them the right to forget about it, we tell them THEY HAVE TO CALL AND CANCEL IF THEY DONT WANT TO BE CHARGED. They could simply just say no and recieve nothing at all and would have never been signed up. Get your stories stright people!
Posted by Clint Curry  in  Lincoln, NE  on  Tue Nov 03, 2009  at  05:18 PM
today they got me as well i just notified my bank.im so confussed they dont send any information you're just someone giving them money.
Posted by SHARRON EDMONDS  in  georgia  on  Tue Dec 22, 2009  at  05:25 PM
I don't actually work FOR Amerimark,I take orders for Carol Wright Gifts and Dr. Leonard's Healthcare and I pitch the Passport to Health Program.
This is the thing, just like the other reps have said; we have a set of VERY strict guidelines that we MUST follow when making the coupon/program trial offer.-Statements in quotations have to be given verbatim otherwise even if our customer wants the program, we won't send it)
We have inform the customer that the program is only free for the first '45 days from today' (the day they accept the offer) and that after that, if they don't call to cancel, their debit or credit card is billed the program price which is '$29.99 each month with an automatic renewal'.
We also inform our customers that they are welcome and ENCOURAGED to 'call and cancel the program at ANY time within those first 45 days and never be billed.'
AND we give our customers the phone number to call and cancel as well as letting them know that it IS in the information packet in several places, and that they are welcome to call and cancel as soon as the same day that their information and coupons arrive if they want to.
After we go through ALL of that information, we MUST ask the customer if it's okay to send them the passport to health 'packet/program/membership' and coupons, and we have to get a clear 'yes', 'ok', 'that's fine', etc.
AND THEN we ask the customer to verify the last four digits of the card that they used for the order to remind them which card would be used if they kept the program. After that, we remind them AGAIN that 'the account will be charged monthly unless you call to cancel'. And let the customer know when they will get their packet and what it looks like.
If we don't obey the compliance guidelines, a.k.a. give those statements in quotations verbatim, they don't send the packet out, we don't get any credit for the sale, and if it happens more than a couple of times, we get fired.
The thing is that customers DON'T LISTEN, and I understand, it's a big, long, boring pitch, but Why on Earth would you agree to something involving your charge card if you don't understand/weren't paying attention.
And in the end, if a customer forgets to cancel or doesn't remember accepting it and ends up being charged, all they have to do is call us back and let Cust.Svc know that they didn't actually WANT the program, we'll happily refund the customer for each month they were charged and cancel the program so they don't get billed again.
So yeah...It's a stupid program, not everyone can use it, and it's really expensive to continue it after the trial, but we do let our customers everything they need to know about the program, we try to MAKE SURE that they comprehend and want the program. AND in the end we refund them if they forget to cancel and actually get billed!
There's no 'rip-off' on our part here, just inattention and over-reaction on some of our customers' part.
Posted by PayAttention  in  Nebraska Call Center  on  Tue Jan 19, 2010  at  03:36 AM
Keep in mind that the people on the other end of the phone are only as good as the ethic that manages them. We all seem to find fault in the process but we all fail to do due diligence on the job but love to point the finger elsewhere - the program is not a scam but most likely the person who took the call would be better off on welfare...oops that would put skill and conscience and other like kind attributes ahead of what you like to drink after hours and listen to on the radio
Posted by B Better  on  Mon Feb 08, 2010  at  09:48 PM
I also pitch the Passport to Health program. And would like to add to the comment about how the problem is that people just don't listen to us. Also when the charge comes up on their charge card, the 800 number to cancel is ON that statement. So how it gets past the first charge is again people not paying attention. And we do in fact credit back these charges if we are asked to do so!
Posted by Employee  on  Wed Feb 10, 2010  at  01:28 PM
if you are from a liberal state like NY with an "activist" Attorney General like Andrew Cuomo that's where to report it.
Posted by nedenleri  in  spain  on  Wed Feb 24, 2010  at  05:02 AM
Thanks for the information. It is necessary to take into consideration.
Posted by Leonid  in  Russia  on  Sat Feb 27, 2010  at  10:47 AM
Thanks for the information.
Posted by 3khomebase  on  Wed Mar 17, 2010  at  05:04 AM
Is their "Passport to Health" program works? How about results?
Posted by Dave  in  NY  on  Wed Mar 17, 2010  at  06:05 PM
Go to the press and reveal their hoax, people will notice and stop buying from Amerimark. With news out, All relevant authorities will jump to tackle this issue.
Posted by rickkgoh  on  Mon Mar 22, 2010  at  04:25 AM
the great post on Passport to Health program. The government is doing great job and hope they will continue.
Posted by Akash Patel  in  india  on  Mon Apr 05, 2010  at  02:08 PM
In solidarity with many here speak. With this kind of fraud must be combated by all possible methods and means. Otherwise, they will enjoy our inaction and to continue to deceive other people.
Posted by Merkuriya  in  Ukraine  on  Tue Apr 20, 2010  at  02:07 PM
Hopefully by posting about it here, more people will take note and realise whether this is happening to them or not. Many people probably wouldn't consider searching online and looking up all the forums and things.
Posted by Biber Hapi  in  Turkey  on  Fri Apr 23, 2010  at  06:58 AM
I ordered a pair of shoes from Amerimark. I noticed that 29.99 had been taken out of my checking account the last two months. I was told by Amerimark that a few days after my order was placed they called with the health care plan. I told them this never happened and I wanted my name removed and to put the money back into my checking account. That was yesterday. This morning the money has been returned.
Posted by Ron  in  Ohio  on  Wed Apr 28, 2010  at  09:31 AM
My mother is 93 years old. She has been billed $29.99 since 2005. The credit card company said the billing may have occured prior to 2005 but they only kept the record up to 2005.

Here it is April of 2010, the scam is still going on. The most current bill is from Amk passport to health. Their records go only as far back as April 2008 and said they will give my mother her credit. Now we are desparately trying to find the other names that was used to bill her prior to April 2008.

At this point, we are warning everyone, that please take a look at your elderly parents credit card bills to make sure these types of fraud does not occur. Also warn them to be careful regarding the catalog ompanies they make any purchases.
Posted by James  in  Williamsburg, Virginia  on  Thu Apr 29, 2010  at  01:50 PM
Notice that the sales hustlers working for Amerimark use the cop-out " they just don't listen" but ignore the fact that their targets are usually elderly which makes them a perfect patsy for overloading the mark with information,
babbling away with the prewritten sales hustle.
Hearing loss is common amongst the elderly, another factor.
Tucked in the sales bloviation may or may not be a reference to additional monies, sales charges,or membership fees.
About two months ago when I caught on to them, I called got an instant cancellation. Of course, no offer of a refund. Funny part is that due a similar skin game by a computer company, I cancelled my credit card and was issued a new one.
Guess what I got in the mail Friday, 4/30/10 ?
An inquiry from "Passport to Health" wondering why they cannot get credit card authorization for - right, $29.99.

Sounds like a class action suit is in order. Plus a notice to the FTC (Interstate Commerce violation) plus the Consumers Affairs Dept. of the State Attorneys General.
Posted by Thomas  in  Oregon  on  Sun May 02, 2010  at  07:37 AM
Thanks for the warning on this matter and I hope many would be able to read this.
Posted by Pension Transfer  in  manila  on  Thu May 27, 2010  at  06:11 AM
I was a former employee at Amerimark and surprise surprise people are still writing complaints on the "membership scams" that the company is involved in.

I find it funny to read all of these posts that your poor elderly mother or father ordered from the company and got charged for years without noticing. And the "cop-outs" you write that they have hearing loss, or cannot comprehend the simple English words we are saying to them "YOU WILL BE CHARGED IF YOU DON'T CALL TO CANCEL" and we still ask consent if they want the membership. I didn't realize that was hard to understand.

Another tip is to educate your parents on how to keep records of each credit card they have and billings that occur. Check over each month and maybe they would realize they were being charged for something they don't remember buying. Then they can call the phone number listed next to the charge to ask/cancel or call the bank and they will even call us for them to have the charge removed! OR maybe don't let them use credit/debit cards if they can't handle being responsible over there financials.

Obviously the company is still in business, still offering the memberships to all of our customers. We do not ask our customers their age, if they have hearing problems, or mental issues understanding English. We have records of every conversation and we continue to be compliant with the legal regulations. If we were joining people without proper consent and so many of you contact your Attorney General with the same complaints I don't think we would be in business anymore.
Posted by Amerimark Employee  in  OHIO  on  Tue Jun 01, 2010  at  10:09 PM
Well which one are you ? A former employee or as at the bottom of your post "Amerimark Employee in Ohio"?
The bum pitch you make would make a carnival Barker blush. Either your knowledge of those bothersome people, "the elderly" is non-existant, or you're awash in the smug idea that you know what the hell your talking about. Ergo , you post but another banal cop-out.
Our bout with your beloved Amerimark didn't come from a phone call. My wife ordered two blouses from the catalog of one of the myriad faux- companies of the aformentioned. Period !
Any company that valued it's customers would have long ago avoided the phantom benefits alleged under the sucker trap you defend.
The only reason Amerimark is still in busines is that it hasn't pissed off the right person... yet.

Someone with the time and money to back it all into a federal court (Interstate Commerce).
Posted by T.E.Vernier  in  Oregon  on  Tue Jun 01, 2010  at  11:00 PM
Thank you... information is cognitive and interesting
Posted by Vova  on  Thu Jun 24, 2010  at  12:08 PM
I take care of my 82 year old mother's accounts. Since she suffers from dementia I try to intercept all phone calls to her but I can't be around 24/7.
I remembered her telling me about something free from a catalog she ordered from. I thought "Oh S*it" because of the number of these companies that prey on the elderly.
You guessed it, I found the charge on her card and tracked it down and cancelled it.
It was the $3.99 so I caught it early.
Posted by William Mattison  in  Stuttgart, Arkansas  on  Thu Jul 15, 2010  at  09:37 AM
To the post above mine; as a current employee I know for a FACT that our inbound supervisors do NOT make a commission on our sales. I don't know for sure about outbound because I don't work on that end. Supervisors don't sit around and laugh about customers getting charged because they weren't paying attention to us or their CC statements, they're busy making sure that they get their refunds.

I don't dispute the fact that we're owned by a company whose purpose is to make a profit...Isn't that the purpose of a company?

All of you seem to be missing the point when we say 'IF YOU FORGET TO CANCEL, CALL US AND WE'LL REFUND YOU WHAT'S BEEN BILLED'.

I'll say it again, we have to tell every customer several times that they 'WILL BE BILLED $29.99 EVERY MONTH WITH AN AUTOMATIC RENEWAL UNLESS YOU CALL TO CANCEL"! We give them the number to cancel and include it in the cover letter of the packet. We MUST verify with the customers if it is "OK TO SEND THE PASSPORT TO HEALTH PACKET AND THE COUPONS?" and we must get a "Yes" from the customer.

There is nothing wrong with what Amerimark does with this program, you all need to pay attention to what's being said or just say no and for God's sake, review your CC statement every month; THAT'S WHY THEY SEND THEM!
Posted by Lincoln Employee  in  Lincoln, NE  on  Tue Aug 17, 2010  at  12:06 AM
Thanks so much for posting this...even years later...its really a life-saver. I was moments away from purchasing a product posted on Amazon.com. Just before though...i decided to google this company seeing that the cream, usually worth 28 bucks is being sold for $2.80...I thought to myself..surely..there must be a catch... I am so thankful for this post.

Other than bringing them down..if you haven't already posted something to amazon..you might want to do that. Although you may not be able to bring them down..on the flip side..you can still help those like myself from taking the plunge! smile

Thanks again!
BobNTara
Posted by BobNtara  in  Las Vegas, NV  on  Mon Mar 07, 2011  at  02:54 AM
smile)
Posted by madama  in  http://www.kolaysohbet.net/  on  Wed Apr 20, 2011  at  04:59 PM
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