Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No Mood to Be Scammed, Part 2

Part 2 is about my battle with HotMovieSale.com and its evil sidekick, SmartSavingsCenter.com. These guys are as tenacious as fly paper.

I cancelled my memberships in HotMovieSale and SmartSavingsCenter as soon as I found their "welcoming" e-mails on December 20th. The 3-hour gap between receiving the e-mails and finding them apparently opened the Window of Opportunity for SmartSavingsCenter to bill me $9.81 for "Land Before Time," a movie I supposedly ordered.

I called HotMovieSale's customer service line. I got a barely intelligible recording suggesting that I take care of such matters on their website. Clicking on "Contact Us," I informed HotMovieSale that I had cancelled my membership and did not want "Land Before Time." I received generic "blah-blah" replies that assured me that someone would get back to me about my problem. When I received an e-mail in early January informing me that they had just shipped "Land Before Time," I was livid. I fired back angry e-mails and got taunts in return:

"You were the one who allowed an unauthorized person to use your credit card. This is not our fault. The order can't be cancelled, since it has already shipped."

I visited the website again. I lobbed a few taunts at "Kelly," a virtual sales rep who appeared in a pop-up. No matter what I typed, such as "Your so-called 'member services' stink," Kelly remained politely on message: "Can I tell you new ways you can save money on movies?" "NO!," I would thunder back, "I don't want any of your stupid movies!" Kelly: "Let me tell you how you can get five free movies just by recommending a friend."

"Land Before Time" arrived. I sent it back unopened. I know that HotMovieSale received it, because I had "Delivery Confirmation" from the post office. Nevertheless, SmartSavingsCenter, which somehow managed to get this charge transferred to my newly-issued credit card, kept billing me $9.81 for the movie. I would file a complaint with the credit union, which would promptly remove the charge. It would disappear one day, only to reappear the next.

Since I was getting nowhere with HotMovieSale, I called SmartSavingsCenter early one morning. I was pleased to hear, "You are Caller Number One. Your wait time is less than one minute."

Finally, I was getting somewhere! I could hear a phone ringing. Then, instead of a live representative, I heard, "Due to the large volume of calls that we are currently experiencing, we are unable to take your call at this time. Please call back later, or, if you prefer, leave your phone number and we will get back to you later." I knew better than to do that.

Eventually, I reached a person with a semblance of humanity at SmartSavingsCom.

"Ma'am," he kept saying, "I see that you returned the movie to us. We gave you a credit for $9.81 on February 2nd."

"But I'm talking about the new charge of $9.81 that showed up on my bill on February 27."

"Ma'am, my records show that you received a credit for $9.81 on February 2nd. No charges were made after that."

Oh, yeah? I stopped using my credit card entirely after December 20th, except for Netflix. My March statement says that I owe $27.81. Subtract the $18.01 owed Netflix and what is the remainder? You guessed it: $9.81.


  1. Threatening to contact the Better Business Bureau always prompts them to actually DO something. Just a suggestion. I'd be livid, if that happened to me. I have no patience when it comes to stuff like that. GRRR! Hugs.

  2. I'm not the only one who's been a victim of these guys' shenanigans. Just type in the company names and "scam" and there they are. The amount is so small that the BBB probably wouldn't so anything. Still, it's a thought.

  3. The time it takes to settle these scams is what is the most annoying to me. I agree the BBB is a good try. That small amount adds up when they are scamming thousands people.

  4. If you're still having problems, cancel your credit card...or tell your bank that you lost the card and they will issue you a new # immediately....then those scammers won't be able to keep adding charges to your account. I just get soooo angry at stuff like this...its just a vicious circle. Good Luck and keep us posted. Its good for us all to know about these lowlife businesses and what their names are.

  5. Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions and your sympathy. I believe that SmartSavingsCenter.com has finally given up on charging me $9.81 for a movie I never ordered. YAY! I have mostly stopped using my credit card and will certainly complain to BBB about these people.