Newest Review: ... further instruction from me. All they needed were bank details to take the £1. These were duly provided. Imagine my shock and distress... more
Money Club savings? Money Club scam, more like.
Member Name: jazzsue58
Date: 05/01/09, updated on 05/01/09 (8104 review reads)
Advantages: None that I can think of.
Disadvantages: Everything. Read the review.
Straight away I'm going to be fair here, and say that this is not a review of the Money Club services, as such - I never got as far as using those. Instead, I want to share with you my short, but painful experience with this company, in particular the underhand way in which their agents operate in order to secure a commission. I was lucky enough to get my money back (hence the two stars) but others may not be so lucky. I serve this, then, as a timely reminder that, no matter how legitimate a company may appear to be, if they are cold-calling you then the chances are they are crooks.
I entered review writing via a long and unprofitable series of so-called "paid survey"jobs. I have since winkled out the genuine sites (and made a grand total of £13 in three months as a result) but prior to this I was victim to a lot of time-wasting scams where I ended up, not doing market surveys, but filling out page upon page of "No" answers. Things like - did I need medical insurance? No. Did I want to hand over my credit card details to Barnardo's? Nope. You know the score.
Eventually I learned to delete these at source, but I was a naive young thing back in October, and when I first started it took a bit longer for me to realise what the scam was. Which was this: firstly, your "payment" was entry to a prize draw (usually, Tesco vouchers or suchlike) and secondly, you had to tick "Yes" to at least one of the three final answers to even qualify. This is why I currently have a selection of Kuoni brochures and double glazing offers littering my doormat. Somewhere along the line, I must have ticked "Yes" to the chance of saving hundreds of pounds off my household bills - at no cost to myself apart from divulging my phone number. I must have been mad.
I completely forgot about ticking the Money Club "Yes" box until mid-November, when I received a call out of the blue. My daughter, bless her, took the question "Is your mum there? It's about her gas payments," at face value and passed the phone across, thinking it was the man from Southern Energy. Instead, I found myself being given ear-ache by a representative of the Money Club.
Time to put the phone down, thought I with a sigh. And that is exactly what I should have done - except that I kept getting told I'd "applied" for membership and, like a fool, bought it hook line and sinker. And he was such a pleasant gentleman, wasn't he? Evidently getting on in years, and with a proper understandable English accent, I could have been in conversation with my dad. Somehow, without quite realising it, I found myself chatting about holidays, Christmas presents, the weather ...
Still, there was one way to get out of making him a sale. Time and time again, he came back to how TMC could save me money - at no time mentioning the cost of these savings. And time and time again, I headed him off at the pass with my credit history.
Did I take foreign holidays? No, can't afford to. I stay at home. Ah, hotels you mean? No, campsites I mean. And before you ask, I'm a member of the C and C - I doubt you can better any offer they make. Tent? Got one. Secondhand from the Free Ad pages. Furniture? I tend to buy that secondhand, as well. Ah, you buy antiques? No. I buy from the same place I got the tent. And so on.
It got more difficult later (35 minutes later to be precise) when I confessed that yes, I did shop at supermarkets and yes, I did need new bits for the car. Gosh, didn't I know that the majority of their customers were single mums and pensioners? (Presumeably, the sort that collect air miles and dine at Claridges, by the other things he was asking) Whatever, by the time he'd found out I was getting my son a bike for Christmas (and I'd discovered, yadda yadda, that any deal I could find, they could halve it) all I wanted was for him to log off so I could have a cup of tea. I'd have gone for a better deal on my grandmother if it got him off the line - and she'd been dead 30 years.
And then came the nitty gritty. "We guarantee you savings in excess of £500 per year, even if you only use us for your weekly shop. All you do is contact your assigned operative - specially chosen with your needs in mind, naturally - each time you need to buy something, and they will find you the best deal for that product. You will make savings on practically everything you buy, no matter how small. And all it will cost you is an £89 membership fee!"
Ah. Hold it right there. Firstly, I had no intention of calling my "assigned operative" each time I needed a pint of milk, thank you very much. And secondly - I didn't have £89. Right then, I didn't have 89p.
Yes, but wasn't I listening when he explained this was a no-cost, two month free trial offer? Membership would start immediately, no money would be removed from my account until the period was up, and in the unlikely event of my deciding to cancel I would be liable for nothing, plus I would keep the savings I'd made.
Oh, what the heck, I thought. Okay then, I'll give it a go. Maybe I'll get that new dishwasher after all ...
And then, like an idiot, I gave him my bank details in the sure and certain knowledge NOTHING would be done with them. Call me an idiot if you must but, let's face it, it's something we all do, isn't it? Scottish Power - done over the phone. Sky Broadband - ditto. Even my local gym. None of them ever took money until I knew they were going to, and often not even then. I had no reason to believe that this company - locally based (well, Slough IS local when you're used to filling out survey forms for someone in Florida) and dealing by direct voice contact, would not be the same.
It was not until later that I remembered one important fact. Unlike all those other companies to whom I'd signed my life away, he never read out the contract of agreement. It was a swift goodbye and put the phone down. I decided to wait for my membership pack, find their phone number and cancel immediately. Bells had started ringing, and it wasn't Christmas yet.
Except the said pack never arrived. I waited ... and waited. December came, and with it my son's bike (a bargain unwanted raffle prize, courtesy of Friday Ad) Two weeks went by. I began to feel I'd been had. What an idiot, giving out my details to a company I'd never heard of! I'd contacted them via a scam survey link, for chrissake!
And then the pack DID arrive, just after I'd done most of my Christmas shopping. There was a membership card, a CD Rom to guide me through the website - and a ton of junk mail for "special offers" I had no interest in. Take those much vaunted hotel deals, for example. Cheap rooms? Yes, but only if you use the hotels THEY decide on - and agree to order a full dinner every night. Cheap travel? Yebbut, you had to fly so many miles in one year it wasn't worth it. And where the hell were my Tesco vouchers?
A quick perusal of their website confirmed what I'd already worked out for myself. The Money Club was a glorified version of the scam that had got me there in the first place. Full of "Twofer" offers for restaurants and pubs I'd never visit in a million years, holidays I couldn't afford to take, and insurance deals I'd already undercut myself. Yes, it was possible to make household savings, but only if you shopped at Debenhams and Waitrose, or bought only branded products. Not much use for a girl whose idea of a good night out is to grab the "knocked down to 20p" meat pies from Morrisons. I did attempt to link up to my personal shopper, but found the whole experience so confusing I chucked the CD in the bin in disgust. I doubt she'd have been interested in me, anyway. She probably bought her meat pies from Debenhams, never mind her knickers.
And then, two days later, £89 was taken from my account.
I read the small print on the direct debit mandate. There was something their agent had neglected to tell me - two things, in fact. Firstly, the £89 was NOT for a year's membership, but a one-off "administration fee" to set the account up. This was ALWAYS deducted at the start, irrespective of whether I was one of the lucky few to be offered the free trial. The ACTUAL cost of a year with them was £98 - making a total of almost £200, to buy things I wasn't interested in, in the first place! In other words, their agent had conned me, just to make a sale. Anglian Windows, eat your heart out.
To be fair, the office DID answer the phone on the third ring, although by the time my call had ended I still wasn't convinced I'd ever see my money again. In fact, it took another two weeks and a demand to speak to the CEO before - grudgingly - the Money Club refunded my payment. There were no apologies, merely a grudging "It's a pity you can't give us the agent's name; he's not supposed to do that" which had all the sincerity of a party political broadcast. The payment was refunded by cheque, incidentally. Although they are keen to get money out of you the quickest way they can, they're not so happy about refunding it in the same manner. Oh yes - and my account was terminated while I was still waiting for it to arrive.
After this little fiasco, I googled up "MoneyClub" and "scam." Surprisingly, nothing came up for the Slough office - not even an advert inviting you to join. I'd guess most people never get as far as I did. I did, however, find an old thread linked to an office in Birmingham, and an even older one from disgruntled cusomers in Scotland, all of whom suffered similar experiences to my own. It appears the company upsets a great many people and then moves on to new premises, selling their dodgy sales techniques to a whole new crew of coldcall agents on the way. Be warned.
Oh sod it. One star it is, then.
Summary: A timely reminder that you get "owt for nowt" in this world.