Friday, May 25, 2007

Junk mail annoyance: Internet Marketing Conference


You may have received this letter a few days ago. It offers you a free dinner conference or lunch seminar for two. It has your name printed on it and it usually offers a free MP3 player (an iPod look alike worth ~$4.00).

I received various versions of it over the past couple of years. The first time I received this letter, it advertised eBay. I threw it out in the garbage, much like what I do with credit card offers. Now, I'm getting annoyed. They continue to market my area. So, time to do some digging and research about this company and what I found reinforced my suspicions: it's a company that has many of its customers claiming foul.

THE BAIT

  • A guy named Clint Rex Sanderson, Clint Sanderson, or C.R. Sanderson from 16300 Christensen Rd, Suite 217, Seattle, WA 98188 of the Internet Marketing Conference (aka Galaxy Mall, storesonline.com), promises the following:

    • "I personally guarantee a fun, relaxed, and informative conference that could change your life forever."

  • It is a dinner for two.
  • It is usually located in a hotel near the city you live.
  • The dinner is valued at $120.00 (it was $79.00 before). You get a $4 Chinese MP3 player, potato chips, a soda, a sandwich, and so forth. I estimate it cost them about $9 per person for the MP3 player and food, but the word 'value' is relative.
  • The seminar will tell you of people's riches by the use of MSN, Google, Yahoo, and eBay.
  • Their flyer has Michael and Diana Blair stating they've made $280,000 in sales online, or Bryan Castleman with his $50,000/year or Donald Wyatt with $50,000/month.

    • In fine print, "Testimonial results are not earnings claims and are not typical."



THE CATCH

  • Wendy from Creative Work at Home did some digging and found that Internet Marketing Conference is known as Galaxy Mall or storesonline.com or Imergent.
  • The company(ies) sell online stores. Frank from Florida reported he signed paperwork to take the package home from a seminar and decided it wasn't for him. They got him with a $3,229 bill. What does Frank think of this offer? "This to me is a FRAUD and a SCAM."
  • Here's one user that spent $1500 on a store and $70/month for web hosting. Bab's thoughts on the whole ordeal? "We have tried to get our money back but they say no refunds. THIS IS A SCAM."
  • Now, are you thinkin' this is only limited in the United States? Nope, they are going global! Wally from Australia: "storesonline.com are target mailing Australian addresses and holding their BS Seminars in Australia. A friend attended one in Brisbane and the asking price is $5,995 for what they provide, ie nothing."
  • A law firm is actively looking to sue these guys for a class action lawsuit.
  • Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against them. See the article here: IMergent defends service after Illinois files lawsuit. It quotes, "Fifteen Illinois customers, who paid a total of more than $91,000 to StoresOnline and Galaxy Mall, were unable to set up Internet businesses and couldn't get refunds, Madigan said in a press statement announcing the suit." More info about it available here as well.
  • Apparently, Galaxy Mall had some legal issues in the Alabama Supreme Court as well. In this case, they were known as Galaxy Mall aka MicroFinancial, Inc aka Leasecomm Corporation.


CONCLUSION
I think it's great that they are willing to feed people for free. I'm tempted to give my meal tickets away to some wonderful people downtown at the homeless shelter. I'll probably drive them to the seminar for free. j/k. Just a warning to everyone that gets 'free' stuff in the mail: do your research before you waste several hours of your life. Remember, you will NEVER be able to get your wasted hours back. There are no refunds for loss time.

It's best to spend your time reading some books that can teach you how to invest rather than speculate.

7 comments:

Tac said...

One of the biggest challenges with doing the research ahead of time is that this company is never identified by any of its names in the promotional material. People get to the conference and are given a high-pressure sales pitch about taking charge of your life, etc. If Imergent, StoresOnline or Galaxy Mall were listed in the flyer, anyone doing more than 2 minutes of research would see how many people have complained about their service.

Dohboy said...

I made sure to include their current marketed 'name' in the subject of this post so people can see.

Amy said...

That people can make money on the internet is without question. In the US alone it is estimated that nearly 3.2% of commerce is done online. So, that there is an online market is without question. It is also without question that StoresOnline's software works. I've used it myself. My site, is up and running. We've used programmers in the past who are much more expensive than StoresOnline and less reliable. In case you didn't see today's press release, StoresOnline just beat out HP, Dell and IBM for the SSPA Customer Service Award. Like any company, you're going to have critics. But critics of StoresOnline are usually less than reasonable. $2500 for a website and there merchant software isn't unreasonable. $29.95 a month for hosting AND customer support isn't unreasonable. I think you're being less than fair about StoresOnline.

Okay, so the MP3 player is cheesy. McDonald's uses kids' meal toys and my local furniture company gives free hotdogs on the 4th of July. Big deal.

The company has very few of its customers result in complaints. I checked with the BBB. They've received 414 complaints in the past 36 months and have had over 2 million customers during that time period. That's less than .001% of their customers. Oh, and the BBB reports that all complaints are RESOLVED.

You'll see earnings claims and testimonials on any product...such is life. That doesn't make them a scam. Colleges do it for their various graduate programs. It's typical marketing and doesn't make them a scam. Have you seen a car commercial lately? Look at the fine print on the bottom of your TV. Toyota isn't a scam, either.

"Frank" is your source of "digging?" Since when did bypassing every good report about StoresOnline and simply reporting the ones that don't like them "digging?" You use'd Rip Off Report. Why did you fail to mention that they said about them:
"Rip-Off Report Investigation: shows that StoresOnline & iMergent is fulfilling its commitment to provide excellent customer service. Rip-off Report gives StoresOnline a POSITIVE rating in customer support and quality assurance. StoresOnline pledges to resolve complaints and address any issues from the past, present and in the future - committed to 100% satisfaction - whatever it takes say company executives."

You make a big to-do about the name of the company. iMergent owns StoresOnline. iMergent is publicly traded. Chrysler owns Jeep. Big deal. Galaxy Mall ceased to be Galaxy Mall over a merger many years ago. Big deal. Eagle Cars no longer exist, either.

Not only that, but "Frank" from Florida wasn't subjected to a scam or fraud. He signed a contract and gave them his credit card. What idiot signs a contract without reading it? And, to top it off, you have three days to cancel StoresOnline once you buy it. And "Frank" knew the price of the software two weeks before he bought it. You know, I bought my home, paid for it, signed the contract and lived in it for three years. Is it okay afterward to ask for a refund because I don't like it and call my contractor a scam? Of course not.

Not only that, but the lawyers you picked were representing people who were short their stock! Talk about stupid. Did you read a recent article about the guy who owns the Dallas Mavericks? He hires lawyers and reporters to investigate a company, tear it to shreads in the press all the while he's shorting the stock. And you think that gives credibility to the report.

To be clear: the internet is a good business opportunity. If you're looking to start an online business StoresOnline is just one of many options. They happen to be less expensive than Yahoo! Stores which costs $299 a month and is less expensive than hiring someone to build it for me. But, like any other business, some people fail. I read that over 50% of restaurants fail within the first year. That's the risk of doing business. But if you fail keep in mind that YOU failed and don't blame a software company. That said, buying a computer program for $2500 is a lot, lot less expensive than a yellow-pages ad. It is a modest investment if you're going to open a store.

Does StoresOnline work? Sure. But be really careful of thinking that you're able to start your own business simply because they have good software. You're going to need to have a business model, a marketing budget, a product, you're going to need to know how to set a budget, you're going to have to hire some people to help you manage it and you probably are going to need to understand: a good product at a good price that is easy to get is going to sell faster and better than a bad product or a bad price that is hard to get.

Dohboy said...

Amy,

You sound like an employee or someone that has sales experience and has a stake with this company.

The truth is simple. I will name them off to you:

1) There are several complaints from consumers against your company.

2) IL's attorney general is pursuing or pursued a case against your company. That is not some 'stupid' lawyer. That is the attorney general of Illinois. That's a big deal. This isn't a random or fruitless complaint. The office of the attorney general in Illinois received enough complaints from people in their state to file a legitimate complaint against your business. WOW.

Enough said.

Dohboy said...

Oh and I just found this out:

3) Texas has reached an agreement with online services provider iMergent Inc. that will provide refunds totaling up to $400,000 to consumers who were misled about the company's promise to help them develop Web-based businesses.

The state of Texas said you were misleading customers? You had to pay $400,000? Come on now. As a customer receiving offers from your company, should I welcome this news with open arms?

Anonymous said...

I am looking for an Attornery in Texas that will handle a class action suite against storesoline. We are out $13,367.00 and looking for others in Texas that have been unsuccesful in getting their websites up and running the was storesonlines promises.

Anonymous said...

StroesOnline signed a consent decree with the State of Washington on Aug 9, 2009: www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?id=23550