BBB describes letters circulating Kalamazoo as deceptive marketing

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Imagine getting what looks like a handwritten letter that offers you a free tablet and all you have to do is complete a survey and call a number.

Sound too good to be true? The Better Business Bureau says it is.

What’s really going on is a marketing ploy making the rounds in Kalamazoo.

A Newschannel 3 employee got one of these letters at the station. It says you can get a free tablet and a free Amazon gift card by filling out the survey, all you have to do is call the 800 number.

When you do call that number, the person on the other end will try to sell you a time-share. It’s not illegal, but consumer advocates say it’s dishonest.

The letter has all the makings of a great deal; free tablet, free Amazon gift card, just fill out a survey and call a number, sounds simple.

Not so fast, says Phil Catlett with the Better Business Bureau of West Michigan.

“We don’t appreciate their tactics, which are not transparent and can be seen as misleading,” said Catlett.

Catlett says the offer is a mask for a time-share company. He says Preferred Client Services is connected to Global Vacation Network, that company has one star and an F rating from the BBB.

“I’d say it’s misleading,” said Catlett. “If we look up the actual vacation clubs themselves there’s a number of complaints related to them. They’re separate entities but they’re related in some way that they try to keep quiet.”

One of the most misleading things is the envelope, it looks like it is handwritten, but a closer look shows the 5s and 8s are exactly the same, something difficult to duplicate by hand.

“Our free market system has led to one of the most successful countries in the world,” said Catlett. “It depends on the trustworthiness and transparencies of the business in selling exactly what they’re going to sell you and so for that reason, we don’t like the way this business does what it does.”

Catlett says this is not a scam. It’s legit, but it can be deceiving. While you may receive a tablet at the end of a long process, be careful before picking up the phone.

“If you want a new tablet of who knows how much value, because you really don’t know exactly what you’re getting based on this letter, and you have all the time in the world and you know you won’t get talked into something you don’t need; why not,” said Catlett.

The BBB says some of the vacation time-shares can cost upwards of $10,000.

While there aren’t many complaints about the time-shares, Catlett says he gets a lot of phone calls about the deceptive marketing.

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