Local News

Apr 29, 2010 12:36 AM by Ariel Wesler

Green website leaves local business feeling scammed

A networking website aimed at helping green businesses connect with each other and their customers has some local retailers seeing red.

The website is Greenbusinesscoalition.org. Telemarketers representing the site have been contacting local retailers and offering to add them to a green business directory. The directory starts with a free trial, but once that expires, business owners are left to foot the bill.

Ellen Henry is a small business owner with a problem on her hands.

"I don't understand why someone can call up my business talk to a part time employee and all of a sudden have charges made to my bill," Henry said.

She noticed her last phone bill had an extra charge of around $50 from Green Intiatives--a telemarketing company that represents websites like greenbusinesscoalition.org. They encourage businesses to join a green directory to attract customers.

"The lady had him totally confused but he thought, 'yeah, well, this isn't going to cost anything and it's going to be simple enough and I can always cancel it," Henry said.

Her employee accepted the 40-day-free trial. Now, she's being charged $50 per month on her phone bill.

Opting out places the responsibility on the customer and once that free trial ends, the charges begin.

"Companies are banking on the fact that you're either not going to know how to get out, not pay attention when you're told, or be too lazy to get the steps to get out of it," said Better Business Bureau President Rick Coplan

But Henry says business owners should be the only ones authorized to accept the agreement, not employees.

"As far as I know, they always make sure that the person is authorized to make changes," said Customer Service Manager Fyrrus Delacruz with Green Intiatives.

"Now, they're $52 dollars richer. I'm out 52 dollars and I don't even understand the website," Henry said.

Businesses say the telemarketers do not ask any questions about if they are green or require any specific criteria to join the directory.

Henry has been told she will get her money back.

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