I started out my morning in my normal fashion (yoga, meditation, coffee with husband, Chinese practice). It was starting to be a good day, despite the rain in Washington. I baked a giant cookie for our AP/AR person who has been with Bramble Berry going on five years and deserves all the recognition and celebration she can get. And, it’s Christina’s birthday in Customer Service so there’s cake and much frivolity at work.
Then, I made it to my desk and found the fax below:
It says that our credit card was charged for $299 for a publication. The name of the publication looks vaguely like a business publication (“CFO & Controller Alert). Puzzled, I talked to the employee that gave the credit card. He told me that this International Credit Recovery had called up, claimed I had ordered this expensive publication, said they had sent 5 invoices and that they were going to ding our credit report if we didn’t immediately “pay up.” They sounded legit since they called his cell phone number and had my date of birth. They said they would send him an invoice as soon as we paid up. Being worried about our credit, he acquiesced giving over our credit card. I wasn’t in the office so he couldn’t check with me. Plus, he figured it was better to be safe than sorry.
As soon as I saw the fax, I knew the entire thing was a bogus scam:
1. Our company name isn’t “Bramble Bakery”
2. The employee’s name that supposedly authorized the transaction isn’t even remotely close
3. I’m cheap. I don’t spend $299 on any publication. Ever.
So, I called the company, explained the situation and when it was apparent that I wasn’t going to back down, the “Manager” hung up on me. I called back. This time, the “Switchboard Operator” hung up on me after I asked for Customer Service. I’ve called back three additional times. They must have caller ID because I keep getting an answering machine. The last time I called, the phone just rang and rang and rang.
I googled the number and got page, after page of irate, angry people with the same exact experience. Try for yourself if you’re curious (or if you’d like to forewarn your employees to not pay any invoice without proof). Their phone number is 607-748-4686.
It’s easy to dispute the charges on my credit card so I’m not out anything but my time (yes, I had planned to do other things this morning). And, I’ve already reported them to the Better Business Bureau (got a similar story? Report it here) and the Attorney General’s Office (Bighampton Office). But really, there has got to be a better way to do business. Ultimately, cheaters never prosper.
Have a question about this blog post? Come join us at Bramble Berry’s Facebook page and we can help you out with any of your soapy questions!
Alan and Adriana says
As a new business owner in the soap industry, its nice to see that the owner of such a large company takes the time to update all her loyal customers with information that could potentially save them from a scam… Thanks – MelMar Soap Hut
The Artist says
I think it is pretty bad,I hate being scammed,and i think so does everyone else.
Well I dislike even more when big companies do that,I have spent at least 8 hours with samsung customer service for the last 2 weeks trying to get my surround system fixed,since their tech broke it,well I got nada,so I went on-line and found out,not hundreds,but thousands of complaints… How disappointing…
Anne Marie,thank you for stopping by my blog,yes I have started a new Etsy store and shopping for a house,I ran out of room!!!!!
Teresa R says
It saddens and angers me that there are so many scammers out there trying to take advantage of people. Thank you for posting about your experiences, Anne-Marie!
Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with that expensive double-pane energy efficient kind,and today, I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was complaining that the work had been completed a whole year ago and I still hadn’t paid for them
Hellloooo,…………just because I’m blond doesn’t mean that I am automatically stupid.
So, I told him just what his fast talking sales guy had told me last year, that in ONE YEAR these windows would pay for themselves!
Helllooooo? It’s been a year, I told him!
There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally just hung up.
He never called back.
I bet he felt like an idiot.
I wonder if this would work for one of those high efficiency air conditioners
this must be our day! i just spent the entire day trying to find where the funds for a big check i deposited into my husband’s business account was.
b of a informed me, after getting the endorsement stamp from my customer via email, that the funds were “just sitting there” until i came in and told them what to do exactly.
geez, i thought that I had Told them what to do when I stamped the endorsement that has my account number on it that day!
how has that changed at all since time began?
Body Natural Soap says
My folks had thier credit card and bank card scammed and ended up with charges all over the African continent. Our bank called us first to alert us. We ended up being out a lot of time dealing with closing accounts and having new cards issued but thank goodness not any money. The Bank did say that it is a good idea to change your cards every 1yr to avoid this.
Even though I’m currently a SAHM, I’ve worked as an admin assistant and office manager for several years, and there are always people trying to get you to either start up a “Free trial” that has a hefty fee after the trial period is over, or pay for something you don’t want, or scam you. You might want to tell your office staff to never authorize anything like that without A. looking into it (check whether they’ve even ordered that publication), B. having some kind of back up paperwork (ask “Can you mail/fax a copy?”) or C. asking the boss, even if the boss is out for the day, put them off until the boss gets back. A legit creditor should allow an office staff member at least 24 hours to check with higher ups and/or accounts payable.
I hope those ICR cheaters get jail time for fraud!!
Jean, Thanks for the heads up about the magazine being legit. It’s so unfortunate that their name is being used in conjunction with this fraudulent company.
Burnt Mill, We did end up canceling the credit card. =( You just don’t know what they’re doing with it if they went through such lengths to get the credit card.
Erin, I agree – I feel badly for the employee as well. He is a very smart guy and for them to badger him into the card … well, they were aggressive *and* convincing. The perfect mix apparently.
In the last day, I’ve reported them to the Attorney General in New York, the Better Business Bureau and successfully had the charge removed from my credit card.
This is horrible! I can only imagine how my grandma would react to this. She would give them her credit card in a heart beat!
What’s really wrong is how they are still getting away with this. That really bothers me.
That, and I feel so bad for your employee who paid this thinking he was saving your business from bad credit!
It’s sad that people can do this and sleep at night.
Burnt Mill Candles and Soap says
yikes! did you cancel your credit card number? I would always worry they might go nuts and charge more things.
Miya Johanna Edwards says
I’m so glad you didn’t fall for this…I can’t count the times I’ve had to stop my parents from falling for scams like these. People can be so awful and dishonest!
I giggled at #3 by the way. I’m the same!
I am glad that you caught it and will be able to get your money back. It is good to publicize this type of information so others can be aware. Hopefully it will help prevent this from happening to someone else.
Mary @ Annie's Goat Hill says
It seems that you handled the situation with great determination and calmness. Thank goodness there are smart people that are able to sniff these types of scam artists out. The sad thing is, for these people to even bother to attempt to pull these things off, they must be making some money from their victims.
I never let my guard down, nobody can afford to keep these types of cheaters in business.
Thank you for sharing, Anne-Marie. I commend you for not only telling us your story in detail, but also for providing the links to ensure others know to report these situations as well.
People are tyring to scam you everywhere ! Someone called my daughter’s cell phone saying that I owed money , for an account that didn’t exist, and said I gave them her phone number, which I did not. Then tried to get her to give them a card number so I wouldn’t get in alot of trouble ! She is a smart girl and told them to call back, well they never did and the number was blocked so we couldn’t call them. People just need to be aware there are lots of people trying to scam you, keep your guard up.
This is an issue I have with recovery services period (I’ve had to deal w/ them a few times because one of my doctor’s office’s billing department forgets to process payments or processes incorrect credit card numbers and then never calls to tell me). There is good reason we are told to never ever give out personal information or banking account or credit card numbers to people who’ve dialed or e-mailed us. It’s good advice, so even if someone calls me claiming to represent someone else I’ll always excuse myself from the call and contact the other party to deal with them directly.
I have a feeling with the economy the way it is the crooks are going to be working even harder to cheat us. Way to “just say no!”
Paula Kates says
“3. I’m cheap. I don’t spend $299 on any publication. Ever.”
Hahahaha, I laughed so loud. I like to think of this trait as “wise” rather than “cheap.” I so know what you mean though, knowing yourself to the core can serve as a barrier between you and “clever” swindlers.
You GO girl!
Soap Kitten says
That’s crazy and very irritating. I know many people who got scammed by these “faux” companies. Terrible.
What’s really sad is that they tend to target the elderly and have them pay all of this money. They sound so professional that they usually don’t question it.
Vinca Leaf Quilts says
Ka-POW! Get ’em, Anne-Marie!
you go girl!
after all that is going on today, it’s good to catch em before they get anyone else.
they thought you were the sucker, now it looks like THEY are!
Suds to Love says
Wow… what a way to start your morning at work! I hope the rest of your day starts looking up!
CFO & Controller Alert is a valid business newsletter that is published bi-weekly. The company I work for has subscribed to it in the past and it does have some good info. You'd never get this kind of bill from the real publisher: They bill direct and in advance with automatic cancellation if you don't pay by a certain date. I'm sure that it is part of ICR's scam to use the name of a real publication to try to make you believe the charge is valid. Definitely a good reminder to check all your bills carefully.
Nicole Chase says
Scammers are an absolute disgrace! Thank you for the warning with this company.