Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another M.O. similar to Homesonic -- in Baguio!

I recently received an email from a resident of Baguio City regarding a Modus Operandi similar to Homersonic, this time in Baguio City. The "establishment" is called Arysta. Baguio residents should be careful when receiving a call from them.


Dear Mr. Bañares,

On March 5, 2010, I have had the misfortune of falling for Arysta's marketing scheme and until now, am still waiting for the call from their customer service in order to reach an agreement regarding a settlement.

It all started with a phone call to my PLDT landline telling me that due to a random selection, I am one of the fortunate few to receive a free gift from their company. They gave me a code so I could claim the gift at their location at the 3rd Floor of Abanao Square, Baguio City. They asked me if I received a phone call yesterday telling me about this prize, when I told them no, they said that I only have three days to claim the prize, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., that since this is the second day, I have only until tomorrow to claim it and to claim it as soon as possible since they would have to generate another code by tomorrow. Since I was swamped with work until that evening, I was not able to go there and claim my prize.

The next day, at around the same time of 2 p.m. or so, I received another call from them telling me that I only have today to claim my prize. I told them that I wasn't able to go the other day because of work and that today, I was waiting for them to call to present me with a new daily code. They assured me that the code remains the same and I could claim it until 7 p.m. So, later on in the afternoon, I went ahead and hied myself there to claim my prize.

After giving me the gift of an eye massager, a sales representative came forward and presented me with enveloped coupons to choose from that I would be eligible with more prizes depending on the coupon I selected. Lo and behold, I got one with a gift certificate worth P 2,000.00 and it didn't end with just that, the other side of the coupon qualifies me to receive more gifts if I were to purchase one of their items. They asked me which I liked and I told them I was interested in the water purifier. They told me I was lucky since they can deduct the gift certificate from the original price and came up with P 51,900.00. They also went on to tell me that if I am subscribed to one of their tie-in partners as they called it, I would be gaining more points. Among their partners, PDT, Smart, Globe, VISA, and others I can't recall were also mentioned. Since I got those points, I'm qualified to receive more. By that time, I was surrounded by their agents with one using a hand-held massager on me and also letting me sit on the chair massager. They showed me the fax that qualifies me to all those items and handing me a cell phone with a lady on the other end congratulating me and that all I had to do was follow the guidelines on the other side of the coupon so I could start claiming the items.

It was annoying at some point because at the time when I was on the phone talking to the lady, the agents around me kept on talking to me, heaping compliments on compliments, congratulating me, so on and so forth, it came to the point that I was straining to hear what was being said on the other side of the line and I wanted to tell them to keep quiet so I could hear what she was trying to say.

It all boiled down to me not having the money to provide to pay for the P51,900 (due to priorities such as the payment of the majority of the bills at home) and since I don't issue checks and don't own a credit card (thank God), they would be willing to accept whatever amount I can offer them as down payment. I should have known by then that it was too good to be true. I told them as of that moment, I am only able to give them a deposit of P2, 500 in cash and I was thus duly escorted to the ATM machine to withdraw.

Dear Mr. Bañares,

This is a continuation of my previous email regarding the Arysta Scam. I inadvertently pressed the sent button instead of the save draft on my email.

After handing over the cash of P 2,500.00 as down payment, I was made to sign two documents. One is a deposit slip with the items I will be receiving listed on it with the remaining amount left to be paid (P 49,400.00) and the second document is an agreement (which they did NOT give me a copy of) stating that if due to priorities, I decided not to push through with the agreement, I will not be entitled to a cash refund but instead will be compensated with offset of an item equivalent to the deposited amount.

(part 2l)

When I got home, that was the only time I got to think clearly without their constant sales talk and platitudes. Not only do I get to come home with lesser money in my account but I get to come home with nothing...not even the so called give-away small ticket items. Oh, but I did get to come home with the gift item of they eye massager. Doubts as to the legitimacy of their actions started to assail me and I was only able to search about Arysta after I finished work for that day. What I found out literally chilled me to the bone.

1. Most of the people they scammed received a phone call via random selection. I'm basically a new subscriber to PLDT, so how come they were able to acquire my number? They did claim at first they PLDT was their partner, but from what I know, PLDT isn't allowed to divulge that unless it's listed in the phone book.

2. No matter which item you choose, they always end up with the amount of P 51,900.00. Check Google search with Arysta and it will autopopulate with arysta scam. You might be asking by now why I didn't check that before. Of course I checked it right after the first call, but the weird thing is, it did not give me anything. Either I left out a letter or something else so it didn't autopopulate. But after I got home after the scam and tried to search for the specs and amount of the item I chose and typed in Aysta, that's when it came out.

3. A part of their scheme is that they won't let you think long enough to doubt their claims. They constantly distract you with their sales talk by making you feel like you're the luckiest person in the world and that by letting it go, it's akin to letting go of a million dollars (you get my drift). They'll drown you with their sales talk, compliments, and platitudes.

Misrepresentation. Remember the part where they told me that PLDT is their partner? It lulled me into thinking that it was safe for me to trust them. Why would PLDT ally themselves with a company that was scum of the earth, right? That was one of the questions I posed to them when I came back two days later, March 7, 2010. I will be discussing what happened later on.

I was told that I could settle the remaining amount of P 49, 400.00 over the next months or years for that matter and that the amount that I give each month would depend entirely up to me, even if it is just a thousand pesos. But if I were to pay at least P5,000.00 next month, I would be able to at least take home some of the give away items. At this point in time, you've already become a 'Yes Man' to whatever they say to you. After I got home and finally free of distractions, I was like, what the heck was I thinking agreeing to that? If I'm only able to give P2,500.00 each month, it would take me almost TWO years to pay it off before I could get the item i paid for. Then it got me thinking, wait a minute, if those were give-away items, how come, they didn't give even just one to me? That it would have to reach an amount of P7,500 before I could take home a single give-away item? Then it hit me, the P51,900.00 practically paid for all the items! Give-away items my foot.

After finding out their scheme and reading the testimonials on the net, I went back there on March 7, 2010 asking them to give me back my deposit. I didn't come alone though, I brought along a no-nonsense, level-headed friend of mine to keep an eye on things and to avoid any more scheming. I told them that I didn't want to have anything to do with them or their products and that I didn't want to offset the amount by them giving me an item of equivalent value or me giving them any more money. They immediately brought out the agreement that I didn't have a copy of and reminded me that I signed an agreement that should a change of mind on my part occur, an offset of an item of equivalent amount will be given and not a cash refund. They told me that the item closes to the deposited amount was a multicooker worth P2,999.00. They assured me that I didn't have to pay the remaining P499.00. Come on, a multicooker worth P2,999.00?! A little overpriced, don't you think? But for me, that wasn't the point. I wasn't going to let them get away with scheming people out of their hard-earned money. To confirm the prices, we asked the representative for a price list and sure enough, the prices of the give-away, so-called small ticket items were listed there. They retrieved the price list telling us that we weren't allowed to get it out because it was company property. Now, why would they keep their prices to themselves when there's such a thing as transparency in the market?

Speaking further with the agent, I told her that it wasn't practical to make a monthly payment for an item that I will only be receiving after two years and for something that I didn't really need. She said that aside from the main item, I will be receiving the give-away items and that by making an initial deposit, I will be able to take home a give-away item. So, I asked the representative, how come I gave an initial payment of P2,500.00 already and yet I didn't get to take home a give-away item? What she told me blew my mind away, "Ma'am, it's because you didn't ask." That's because that wasn't what your representative told me before and that your representative didn't tell me that all I had to do was ask. I was even told that I had to give at least P5,000.00 next month before I could take home a give-away item. I told them that what they were doing was wrong because their statements were misleading. And I asked her how I was selected randomly and that when I asked them the last time, their answer was evasive. How were you able to select me randomly when my number isn't even listed in the phonebook since I am a relatively new subscriber to PLDT and from what I know, PLDT is not obligated to divulge subscribers' phone numbers unless it's already published in the phonebook. The representative went on to tell me that PLDT used to be one of their partners. If that's the case, why are you still telling your customers that you're still partners with them and even printed it on their catalog? That's when my friend dropped a bomb by saying that they're committing misrepresentation by luring the customers into a false sense of security. That immediately shut up the representative and promptly told us that she had a lot to do (we were the only customers there) and that no more could be done until either I accept the rice cooker as an offset item or file a customer complaint. Since I wasn't willing to accept the cooker, they suggested that I file a complaint to their customer service and will be receiving a call from them in three days. When I told the representative that I wanted to get this over and done with, she told me that all I had to do was accept the multicooker and it will be over. No way am I going to let them get away with just that.

It's already the third day and still no call. Tomorrow, I'll be going to DTI to file a complaint and even make an ABS-CBN Citizen patrol to stop this scheme.

The point for me is not because the multicooker is overpriced, it's because they lured me and countless others into parting with our hard-earned money by using their slick charm, platitudes, misleading statements, and even
committing misrepresentation to buy and obtain items that are not really needed.

I wrote you an email in the hopes of facilitating an action that will put a stop to their devious ways. Will you, and other people, please help me stop them from scamming more people in the future? If you know people who could make this happen, please contact them and let them know of this company's scheme.

This is a link to a well-documented account from a person who had a similar experience to mine:

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Blood Donors Needed

From Tom Sepulveda: I need blood donors Type
O bec. my son's platelet is very very low. He is bleeding. Pls send
donor to UERM blood bank and tell them for Julio Alfonso Sepulveda. I
badly need your help. (Tom is the father of Huey Sepulveda, a
grade 4 Ateneo student and a leukemia patient). or at least forward this message to your friends>