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NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Consumer Alert

BBB Releases List Of Companies Consumers Can Do Without

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By Jennifer Kraus 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Better Business Bureau has a warning for consumers. There are companies in Middle Tennessee that you probably do not want to do business with. The BBB is trying to get the word out to consumers about the companies.

If you're a business owner, this is one report card you do not want your name on. It's the Better Business Bureau's official list of companies the BBB said consumers can do without.

The BBB said the eight companies all got failing grades for taking customers' money and not giving them what they paid for, and for providing lousy customer service.

With most of the companies, customers said when they tried to call or email to complain, they were ignored. 

"These are companies that said, 'We don't care about doing the right thing. We're going to continue to do business as we chose,'" said Kathleen Calligan with the BBB. 

The BBB said Smart Data Solutions led customers to believe that it was selling them affordable low cost insurance, but it really was not. 

"They paid in advance by credit card for a health care plan. If they got anything, it was information about a discount plan which is not health insurance," said Calligan. 

Cathedral Rosaries is an online store based in Antioch. Customers said they never got what they'd ordered and paid for. 

Customers of National Fitness Center said they paid to join the gym, but soon found the doors locked. 

National Credit Advocates promised to fix customers' credit and even promoted a $10,000 guarantee. 

"Many consumers paid over $700 to improve their credit report. The company took their money and, in many instances, the consumers reported their credit FICO scores dropped even lower," said Calligan. 

More than a dozen people complained about Horsein' Around which offers horse transportation. In some cases, the company failed to pick up the animals while other owners said their animals were not treated properly. 

The BBB said it has heard from more than 250 customers about problems with a mail order business that operates under two names, Summerstone Nursery and Autumn Ridge Nursery. Consumers said the company sent them dead weeds or dead sticks. 

Customers of Consumer Depot, an online store selling electronic equipment and software, said they got products that were damaged, did not work or were not what they ordered. 

RLC Enterprises is the latest name for a company run by Ricky Lee Coleman who NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed three years ago. The company runs ads promising high-paying security jobs and training. Most people find after paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, that there are no jobs or even training. This was not the first time the company has made the BBB's list. 

"We think these companies deserve all of the publicity that they can possibly get about their poor business practices," said Calligan.

Before releasing its list, the BBB said it contacted all of the companies and offered to help them resolve their customer service issues. In most cases, the BBB said it pretty much got the same response that consumers did. They got no response. 

NewsChannel 5 also reached out to the companies. We only heard from the owner of Cathedral Rosaries who told us she was aware of the problems and has been working hard to fix them. 

The BBB said it's always a good idea before you spend any money to check out the company and know who you're doing business with. You can always check the BBB's web site to see if anyone has filed a complaint.

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E-mail: jkraus@newschannel5.com  

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