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Distinct Advantage/FreedomGLD Complaint - Unauthorized charges

Review by Bernie02$ on 2007-02-18
LARGO, FLORIDA -- I had 14 days to cancel this service, I decided I did not want to continue with this. I tried over and over to contact them by phone, but the menu just kept playing over and over, I could not get through. There was supposed to be a one time start up fee of $40.00 and a monthly fee of $19.95. These fees never showed up on my bank statement, instead, two fees showed up, one for $149.00 and the other $59.95, one check showed the payment to be made to FreedomGLD, and the other to Distinct Advantage, both with the same address. I wanat to know how to get my money back.
Comments:7 Replies - Latest reply on 2007-03-26
Posted by Sparticus on 2007-02-18:
I would first contact your credit card company and ask they put a stop to the charges. Advise them that you suspect this is fraudulent activity, since the company does not seem to exist/respond to any of your attempts to contact them. They may even be able to reverse some of those previous charges. Then let the company dispute it... which they probably won't if they are trying to scam you.
Posted by spiderman2 on 2007-02-18:
I think the guy used a debit/credit card because he states "it showed up on my bank statment." I don't know why people give others access to their checking accounts instead of using credit cards. There is so much more protection with a credit card.
Posted by Sparticus on 2007-02-19:
You are probably right spiderman... I never use my debit card for online purchases, etc. Too risky to expose my hard earned bank account.

Posted by Joe2007 on 2007-03-24:
The following information is on Suntasia marketing and its promotions.

The address where ALL the telemarketing calls originate from is:

Suntasia Marketing
8751 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33771
Tel#: 727-471-0276 or 1-800-NEW-TEAM

Website: http://www.suntasia.com/

Live calls to your house start with the numbers 727-683-#### or 727-252-####. There are 8 rooms which hold 24 agents in each plus a customer service area. You can actually see what Suntasia looks like on the inside by copying and pasting their website address above to your address bar.

The programs and the companies they currently promote are:

Travel Agents Go Direct (may have changed names again)
Distinct Advantage
Freedom Gold
FloridaWay
Prism Communications

Here is a list of programs they use to promote:

Agents Travel Network
Capitol Vacations
Florida Passport
Travel Agency Network
Teliflex Communications
VersaTalk

ALL the companies listed above have an “unsatisfactory” rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Posted by Joe2007 on 2007-03-24:
For those who are not aware how important it is to let people know about these scam artists including those in the media, here are some links on news stories that were done in 2006 on Suntasia Marketing and the products they promote like “Distinct Advantage”, “Travel Agents Direct”. Just copy and paste the link below to your address bar and watch a woman in Pennsylvania who was being taken for a ride as well as others they tried to scam.

Consumer Alert: Discount Membership Clubs - KDKA Channel 2

Link:

http://kdka.com/consumer/local_story_265165935.html


“Man Warns About Suspected Phone Solicitation Scam” KETV Channel 7

Link:

http://www.ketv.com/iteam/9727067/detail.html


“Telemarketers Using Costco’s Name to Entice You To Buy” KOMO 4 News in Seattle.

Link:

http://www.kendallwatch.us/community/telemarketers-using-costco-s-name-to-entice
-you-to-buy

They have not only been exposed by the media but as many as 7 bank alerts in the last year alone were sent out to warn consumers about this scam not to mention a second federal investigation still on going since July of 2006.

If you think if can’t happen to you think again. Remember ALL the products that are marketed and sold come from one place ONLY, SUNTASIA MARKETING in Largo, Florida.

The programs and the companies they currently promote are:

Travel Agents Go Direct (may have changed names again)
Distinct Advantage
Freedom Gold
FloridaWay
Prism Communications

Here is a list of programs they use to promote:

Agents Travel Network
Capitol Vacations
Florida Passport
Travel Agency Network
Teliflex Communications
VersaTalk

Their website is www.suntasia.com

They are located at:

Suntasia Marketing
8751 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33771
Tel#: 727-471-0276 or 1-800-NEW-TEAM

Any questions are welcomed but please read some of the posts in this site so as to not repeat the same information again. My last two posts answer 95% of your questions on who these guys are.

Hope this helps clear things up a bit. Comments welcomed.

Posted by Joe2007 on 2007-03-24:
Many people have complained about being debited even before receiving anything. How can they get away with this? Well, I am posting ONE of the scripts the agents use while on the phones. I say ONE b/c many agents there reword the script just to make a sale. I have a copy of a NON APPROVED script. Here is the regular script they normally use. Read below.

HERE IS AN ACTUAL SCRIPT THEY USED OR STILL USE.

When they call people they use this Script.

*Travel Agents Go Direct & Verification!!!!

Hi, (Customers name)

My name is __________ I’m a registered agent calling on behalf of * Travel Agents Go Direct in regards to your bank account. As a valued customer we are going to send you $400.00 in American Airline Saving Vouchers and two free nights of hotel accomodations, just for accepting a 14 day free trial into our *Agents Travel Network program.

This program will give you the same hospitality benefits usually only available to travel professionals, such as discounts of up to 50% on cruises, rental cars and airline tickets. You’ll also receive major discounts at thousands of resorts and hotels nationwide, including Hilton, Marriot and Radisson and you’ll save a ton of money on selected theme park tickets. Your membership will arrive with your own personalized Travel Agents Go Direct identity card.

After your 14 days, if you decide to keep it, it’s only $19.95 a month billed to your checking account, with a one time activation fee of only $40.00. If you decide to cancel, just call the 800 number in your package during your free trial period, you’ll never be billed, and there’s no further obligation, Either way you still keep the airline vouchers and your free hotel accomodations, as our way of saying thanks for looking over the program. So you can’t lose!

Now we will be shipping your package to (Verify Address) is that correct?

How does your name appear on your checking Account?

If different from customers name: are they authorized signer on this account?

What is the name of your bank?

And you opened your account in (Customers City and State)

Now we are going to pull up your information to confirm that everything is correct. Please Hold.

(Obtain the nine digit ABA routing # from Verichek by your manager)

OK, (Customers Name) I’m going to verify your ABA routing number that’s on the bottom left hand corner of your check book. If you can follow along with me to make sure the numbers are correct. (Confirm ABA Routing Number with customer) Is that Correct?

** Now there will be a symbol after those numbers I just verified with you, please go ahead and verify the next set of numbers, which is your account number.

Thank You!

** Note: ASSUMING YOU GAVE THEM YOUR INFORMATION THEY THEN PREPARE TO RECORD THE CONVERSATION FOR BILLING PURPOSES. NOTICE ON THE RECORDING SCRIPT BELOW THAT THERE’S NO DATE SO YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN YOUR TRIAL PERIOD BEGINS OR ENDS. THE ONLY DATE THEY RECORD IS THE DATE THEY CALLED YOU ON. ALL THE AGENT TELLS YOU IS THAT AFTER TWO WEEKS WHEN YOU RECIEVE THE PACKAGE IS WHEN YOU WILL BE BILLED IF YOU DON’T CALL TO CANCEL. PROBLEM HERE IS THAT YOU NOR SUNTASIA KNOW THE DATE YOU’LL GET THE PACKAGE EXACTLY B/C IT IS SHIPPED REGULAR MAIL. THIS IS SO THEY CAN CHARGE YOU AT ANYTIME IF THE PACKAGE EITHER NEVER ARRIVES OR GETS TO YOU LATER.

Verification Must Be Read VERBATIM.

Thanks for holding, the remaining portion of this call will be recorded OK?? (Must get affirmative, YES, OK, OR CORRECT) I’m speaking with (customers Name) and todays date is __________.

Now we will be shipping your package to (Customers Address) Is that correct? OK. Great ! And I’m showing your telephone number as (read customers telephone number back) For security purposes we need to attach a password to your file. What city were you born in ?

And what is your email address? These will act as passwords whenever you contact us.

How does your name appear on your checking account?

If different from customer name: (Are you an authorized signer on this account?)

What is the name, city & state of your bank?

Now, please read your routing number back to me that starts with a 0,1,2 or 3. Ok, great! Now please read back to me the account number that YOU PROVIDED. Ok, great.

After your 2 week trial period, the program is just $19.95 a month with a one time activaction fee of $40.00 billed to the checking account YOU JUST PROVIDED to us. If you decide to cancel your membership, just call the 800-number in your package. Theirs no further obligation and the airline vouchers and hotel vouchers are yours to keep just for accepting the membership for the first 2 weeks. With your permission we’ll rush your Travel Agents Go Direct card and materials to you and your benefits will start immediately. OK? (Must Get an OK, YES or CORRECT)

If funds are unavailable upon deposit after the free trial your bank may charge you a processing fee.

Now, (Customers name), you qualify for 2 additional packages

FloridaWay UPSELL!!

As a new VIP member The FloridaWay would like to sponsor your first travel agent fam trip. Its called the Fun in the Sun Dream Escape, you’ll receive 6 days 5 nights of hotel accomodations in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You will receive this on a 7 day free review basis. This fam trip is subject to blackout dates of Christmas, New Years & Special Events. These vacations are fully transferable and will be sent to you with a travel date of 1 year from today, which can be changed at no additional charge. This vacation package comes to you risk free for 7 days. If, during your free review period, you do not call to cancel,the promotional fee of only One Hundred Forty-Nine Dollars will be applied to the checking account we have just verified with you. OK? Great. (Must Get an Affirmative, Yes, Ok, or Correct)

Prism Communications UPSELL!!

As a Special Bonus you will also receive a free 21 day trial of unlimited long distance with voice mail from Prism Communications
This has nothing to do with your home phone its in the form of a calling card and comes with a pin number. You can use this service from any touch tone phone at your home or office and call anyone, anytime, anywhere, coast-to-coast and talk as long as you want, free for 21 days. If after your free trial you decide to continue its only $49.95 a month billed to the checking account used today and monthly thereafter, but keep in mind you are under no obligation to continue. If you feel its not for you simply call the customer service number within the free trial period and you will never be billed… its that simple… So with your permission under the terms described your billing information will be transferred to Prism Communications
and they’ll send out your free trial in the mail today. OK? (Must get an affirmative OK, YES or CORRECT)

*** Thank you for your time and have a good day/night.

*** Note: You are told to hang up immediately and not engage in any other conversations with the customer b/c he or she might end up asking too many questions.

END OF SCRIPT..

Notice a few things on this script. I capitalized some words purposely b/c it lets you know how they get away with charging you. The words are “Now read back to me the account YOU PROVIDED” or “. . .billed to the checking account YOU JUST PROVIDED”. This places YOU responsible NOT them for giving out your information in order for them to have the right to bill you.

Also, with Suntasia there is no SPECIFIC date when the trial period begins or ends. They don't know when you will be receiving the packages and that is where the confusion starts.

On the recording it says:

"After your two week trial period the program is just $19.95 a month billed to the checking account you just supplied to us. If you decide to cancel your membership, just call the 800 number in your package. There's no further obligation and . . . . . . . ."

HHmmmmmmmmmm. . . . Let's see what's wrong with this picture?

Well for starters the word "free" is not found after the word "your" and before "two" even though the agents stress it's a "free" trial before the recording began.

Also , there is no SPECIFIC date when your "trial" (NOT "free" trial) period starts or ends. All the agents tell the customer is that when you recieve the package in the next 7 to 10 business days, your "trial" period will begin two weeks from then. Unfortunately, Suntasia REALLY doesn't know when the package will arrive to them (if they sometimes ship it out at all) and thus the billing can start at any time. It has happened over and over again where customers have complained about being charged, not receiving their packages or they got it very late. Many have been charged even before the package was sent out to them or on the day of recieving it. What is Suntasia's response to these complaints? It's the U.S. Postal Services fault. Yeah, pass the buck will you! Some have been able to get refunds but that's after struggling to get through customer service and it's 3 different phone numbers that ALL lead back to the same place, Suntasia Marketing.

Another thing that sticks out is they tell you to call an 800 number that’s on your package to cancel the travel program but on the second package (FloridaWay) they just say to call and cancel. On the last package (Prism) they say to call customer service # to cancel. Why? Because the truth is that they have 3 different numbers for you to call if you want to cancel everything. The agents are told NOT to give this information out to the customer in fear that they may cancel on the recording. They are also not allowed to give out the customer service number b/c many of them cancel everything on the same day.

When the customer starts asking questions like, “Do I have to call 3 different numbers to cancel everything?” The agents are told to say, “if you have any questions or problems just call the customer service number on your package and they will handle everything”. The customer might ask what is that number and the agent will say, “it will be on your package the day you get it”. The truth is that any numbers that the customer sees on the packages or gets from the agent themselves ALL lead to the same place Suntasia Marketing's customer service department.

When the customer calls CS they tell them in order to cancel the other two packages you must call two other numbers. Again it ALL leads back to the same place, SUNTASIA MARKETING. They do this to frustrate the customer enough so they get tired of trying to cancel thus buying enough time to be billed later.

As for the travel discount card and the 21 day trial calling card, if you don’t send back the travel card you’ll get billed. The calling card has to be de-activated, by you writing a letter to them to do so, otherwise you’ll get billed. Another thing is even if you liked using the calling card (most of us have cell phones so there’s no need for this unless you are that dumb to pay $49.95 a month for long distance), the pin number often doesn’t work at all and you constantly have to call in to customer service to either get it fixed or get another pin number.

This is why the agents are told to add the other two packages (FloridaWay which is a timeshare and the calling card Prism) b/c that is where their profit is made. The $19.95 travel card just covers cost of the regular expenses (lights, security etc) in the company.

Hopefully this will bring you more insight on how these crooks work. I also know what rebuttals they use in case the customer has any objections to the products they sell. I will post those in the near future.
Posted by Joe2007 on 2007-03-26:
This come's straight from the BBB website:

http://www.bbbwestflorida.org/commonreport.html?bid=11002452

BBB Reliability Report

The Better Business Bureau®
Serving Florida's West Coast
P.O. Box 7950
Clearwater, FL 33758-7950
(727) 535-5522 (24 Hours)
www.bbbwestflorida.org


Suntasia Marketing, Inc.
8751 Ulmerton Rd
Largo, FL 33771-3832
Telephone: (800) 639-8326
Fax: (727) 471-0274
www.suntasia.com

The BBB reports on members and non-members. If a company is a member of the BBB, it is stated in this report.

Original Business Start Date: November 1999
Principal: Mr. Bryon W. Wolf, President
Customer Contact: Mr. Donald L. Booth, General Counsel - (727) 471-0276
Entity: Corporation
Incorporated: November 1999, FL
TOB Classification: Vacation Certificates & Vouchers
BBB Membership: This company is not a member.


Suntasia Marketing, Inc. is owned by FTN Promotions, Inc. This report also references Guardian Marketing Services Corporation, an affiliate of Suntasia Marketing. These companies operate out of the same offices in Largo, Florida and list the same corporate officers.


Additional DBA Names

FTN Promotions, Inc.
Capital Vacations
Guardian Marketing Services Corporation


Nature Of Business

Suntasia Marketing, Inc. conducts telemarketing services for for various companies, which are listed in detail in the Customer Experience section of this
report.

This company report also references the name Guardian Marketing Services Corporation, an affiliate of Suntasia Marketing. Guardian Marketing Services Corporation provides the customer service for Suntasia Marketing and the various companies that it telemarkets.


Customer Experience

Suntasia Marketing has an unsatisfactory rating due to a pattern of complaints concerning misrepresentation in sales practices, unauthorized billing, refund disputes, and delivery issues.

Suntasia Marketing provides telemarketing services for the products of various companies. Each of these companies has its own BBB reliability report detailing the company and its complaint history. As the telemarketing service provider for these companies' products, Suntasia Marketing is the source for many of the complaints. You may get these companies' reliability reports by contacting the BBB of West Florida at (800) 525-1447 or its website, www.bbbwestflorida.org.

These companies include, but may not be limited to:

1. Agents Travel, 3993 Tyrone Blvd, St Petersburg, FL, (800) 432-6350
2. Distinct Advantage, 10500 Ulmerton Rd Ste 726-302, Largo, FL, (866) 545-5486
3. Florida Passport, 6822 22nd Ave N PMB 432, St Petersburg, FL, (888) 612-2894
4. Floridaway Dream Escape, 2655 Ulmerton Rd Ste 407, Clearwater, FL, (888) 488-8770
5. Freedom Gold, 10500 Ulmerton Rd, Largo, FL, Ste 726-302, (800) 853-0473
6. Prism Communications, 3665 E Bay Dr Ste 201B, Largo, FL, (888) 694-9151
7. Teliflex Communications, 3303 Seffner Dr, Holiday, FL, (866) 821-8674
8. Travel Agents Go Direct, 11125 Park Blvd Ste 104-364, Seminole, FL, (888) 546-8844
9. VersaTalk, 3303 Seffner Dr, Holiday, FL, (877) 494-7363


Suntasia Marketing's complaint information is as follows:

When considering complaint information, please take into account the company's size and volume of transactions, and understand that the nature of complaints and a firm's responses to them are often more important than the number of complaints.

The Bureau processed a total of 185 complaints about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total of 185 complaints closed in 36 months, 47 were closed in the last year.

Company Management

Additional company management personnel include:

Mr. Roy A. Eliasson - Vice President
Mr. Vance Vogel - Executive Director of Sales & Marketing
Mr. Michael Berndgen - Chief Financial Officer

Bryon Wolf, President of Suntasia Marketing, Inc., and Roy Eliasson, Vice President, are respectively the CEO and Vice President of Bay Pines Travel, Inc. The Bureau has a separate reliability report on Bay Pines Travel, Inc., located in Saint Petersburg, Florida.


Additional Addresses, and Telephone Numbers

Additional Addresses
9641 Gulf Blvd
Treasure Island, FL 33706-3209
Tel: (727) 367-6887


5621 Park St N
Saint Petersburg, FL 33709-6310
Tel: (727) 544-0776


5510 Gulfport Blvd S
Gulfport, FL 33707-4827
Tel: (727) 683-2240


13799 Park Blvd # 301
Seminole, FL 33776-3402


8601B Somerset Dr
Largo, FL 33773-2714


Additional Phone Numbers
Tel: (727) 363-4506
Tel: (888) 824-7675
Tel: (727) 360-5889
Tel: (727) 471-2058
Tel: (727) 471-0276
Tel: (727) 471-1777
Tel: (727) 471-1414

Report as of March 26, 2007
Copyright© 2007 Better Business Bureau®, Inc.


If you choose to do business with this company, please let the company know that you contacted the Better Business Bureau for a report.

BBB reports may not be reproduced for sales or promotional purposes.

The information in this report has either been provided by the company or has been compiled by the Bureau from other reliable sources.

As a matter of policy, the Better Business Bureau does not endorse any product, service or company. BBB reports generally cover a three-year reporting period, and are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information contained in this report is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy. Reports are subject to change at any time.




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