Recently on the radio here in Salt Lake City, Utah, Earthlink, one of the largest providers of Internet service, advertised a "great" deal if you become a member of their internet family. For just $19.99 a month, you receive internet access and all the latest everything they have to offer, PLUS they will give you a digital camera, valued at "120.00" for free! On the radio advertisement, the only stipulation was that you had to remain a member for three months.
I was considering a change in service providers, so I called the 1-800-earthlink customer service number to get more information. Sure enough, the advertisement was valid. The first question out of the sales rep's mouth was "can I have your credit card number?" Well, I said, no, I don't provide credit card numbers for transactions over the phone or on-line. I prefer to pay cash for everything. "Well, then, we can't sign you up." Click. And with that, the representative hung up on me.
I called back and got anou=ther rep and started out the
conversation where I had left off with the other. She explained to me that the camera offer was valid, and that if I terminated my contract before the end of three months that I would be charged $89.00 for the camera. Wow, $89.00 for a supposidly $120.00 camera is a pretty good deal.
I then told her that I would not be paying with a credit card, as I have had numerous problems with over-the-phone transactions. She also told me that I couldn't sign up. When I asked why, she told me that if I were to cancel, they would bill my credit card for the camera. Fair enough, I said, but since I won't be paying with my card, I would be willing to pay, in cash, all three months up front so that circumstance wouldn't be an issue. I was told, "either pay with a credit card and get your camea, or pay in cash and don't get a camera." I also mentioned that no where in their radio advertisement did the restrictions state that a credit card was required, which possibly constituted false advertising. I received no reply to that.
When I told her that I believed it was illegal to deny payment with legal tender, in other words CASH, I was told that they could refuse service to anyone and that they didn't want "my" kind of customer to sign up with them.
Furious, I terminated the call. I then talked with my rommate who had seen their advertisement in the newspaper, called a local computer store and found out that the camera which was supposidly valued at $120.00 could be purchased for only $59.99!
I then called the local radio station and told them of this
problem, and the program director is contacting earthlink to either pull the ad or have it re-recorded.
None of the issues validate the use of a credit card, and I know, through a co-worker, that earthlink has made charges on their credit card bill over and beyond their $19.99 per month charges, and having them removed has been a nightmare. I feel they want your credit card to have direct access to your money.
Thank you for your site and for what you provide the consumer.