A Chicago-area business that uses multiple websites to sell everything from posters to coffee to jewelry, is under fire from over a thousand consumers all over the nation who claim they were misled by the company’s sales practices or charged for items they never ordered.
Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona warns that Internet surfers might want to think twice before doing business with Web sites connected to Peel, Inc. (www.peel.com
) of Evanston, Ill. On its headquarters site, Peel describes itself as a “pioneer in the field of Internet commerce and marketing.”
BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois said the company has received more than 1,300 complaints in the past year, including at least four from Tucson. It has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.
On its report, the BBB lists 19 different Peel, Inc., websites, including shopdani.com, which sells jewelry; seattlecoffeedirect.com, which sells coffee; and especially posters.com or posterpass.com, both of which sell a variety of types of posters. As of this week, those sites said they were not accepting new orders.
Complaints allege undisclosed or unauthorized charges, lack of clearly disclosed shipping and/or membership fees, and deceptive advertising. Many consumers say they received orders that were never ordered or authorized and difficulty obtaining refunds.
Several St. Louis area consumers said they were able to stop unauthorized charges only by canceling their credit or debit cards.
Kim States, BBB President, says Peel and its related businesses have left a “wide path of angry and disillusioned consumers” across the U. S. “This company has victimized consumers from California to New York. Sadly, the Southern Arizona region has had its fair share of problems.”
Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Chicago area BBB, said that while the company is resolving their complaints with his office, there is an ongoing pattern of complaints concerning its business practices.
The BBB offers the following advice to consumers on preventing billing issues and other problems while shopping online:
* Make sure you read all policies, agreements, guarantees and instructions before signing anything or giving a charge number.
* Do not feel pressured into ordering before you are ready.
* Be wary of vaguely worded provisions, exclusions or limitations which could create a problem later.
* Be cautious of contradictory language on a Web site.
* Be wary of free or reduced-price trial offers. Often, the point of the trial offer is to get you to agree to enroll in a long-term agreement.
* Do not open packages you believe may contain items you did not order.
* If you do receive items you did not order, attempt to contact the company immediately. If that does not work, contact the bank that issued your charge card to dispute the charge.
* Check out a company’s reliability report through the BBB at www.tucson.bbb.org or at (520)888-5353 before doing business with it.