The Better Business Bureau of Central/Northern Arizona is alerting consumers across the country about Maximum Business Concepts, a Phoenix-based company, also known as Merchant Referral Solutions that targets unsuspecting consumers who are looking for a work-at-home opportunity.
According to the BBB, Merchant Referral Solutions began operating in the summer of 2009. Complaints filed stem from refund issues to high pressure sales tactics when people sign up with them for between $150 to $500 plus an additional $19.95 per month for a personal website. Complaints also allege that after the product was purchased, consumers were contacted by affiliates of Merchant Referral Solutions and were pressured into purchasing an advertising campaign for thousands of dollars.
How does it work? Merchant Referral Solutions contacts people by phone and offers them an opportunity to work from home as an 'affiliate,' selling credit card terminals to merchants. You must agree to pay a monthly web hosting fee to sell their product. Some people have complained that they were also billed for training materials that were not agreed to or disclosed.
Complaints filed include refund issues and high pressure sales tactics. Merchant Referral Solutions has responded to complaints by stating they are not responsible for refunding their affiliates' charges and that their charges are non-refundable. This company has an F rating (November 2009) with the Better Business Bureau due to short length of time the business has been operating and the number of complaints that have been received and are unresolved.
Work-at-home businesses sound appealing, but before sending any company any money or providing them with your credit card information or acount numbers, do your homework. This advice from the BBB is mostly common sense, but here is a reminder!
- If a proposal claims you can earn a certain income, then it must also give the number and percentage of previous purchasers who achieved the earnings.
- Get earnings claims in writing. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if the business opportunity costs $500 or more, then the promoter must back up the earnings claims in a written document. If it's a work-at-home or other business opportunity that involves an investment less than $500, ask the promoter to put the earnings information in writing.
- Interview previous purchasers. The FTC requires business opportunity promoters to give potential purchasers the names, addresses and phone numbers of at least 10 previous purchasers who live the closest to the potential purchasers. Interviewing them in person can help reduce the risk of being misled by phone references.
- Contact your Better Business Bureau both where the business opportunity promoter is located and where you live to find out whether there is any record of unresolved complaints. While a complaint record may indicate questionable businesses practices, a lack of complaints doesn't necessarily mean the promoter and the business opportunity don't have problems. Unscrupulous dealers often change names and locations to hide history of complaints.
- Consult an attorney, accountant, or other business advisor before you put any money down or sign any papers. Entering into a business opportunity can be costly, so it's best to have an expert check out the contract first.
- Take your time. Promoters of fraudulent business opportunities are likely to use high pressure sales tactics to get you to buy in. If the business opportunity is legitimate, it will still be around when you are ready to decide.
- Never give your personal information to anyone offering you a business opportunity or work at home business. This includes bank account numbers and credit card information.
Note: You may see advertisements for Work-at-Home opportunities on this page, because that's the topic of the article. Just because you see an ad here, that doesn't make it a legitimate company. Do your homework!