BadCustomer.com is a site that provides a service that lists consumers that have initiated a chargeback with one of their participating merchants. This leaves people listed on the database with BadCustomer.com who may have filed legitimate chargebacks for goods or services, blacklisted without their knowledge. As you will read, there may be a relationship between sites which are alleged to engage in fraudulent transactions and BadCustomer.com themselves.
Until recently consumers were told they would have to pay $99 to get their name removed from the list and up to $1,000 if there name was removed more than once.
It is unclear exactly what merchants supply your personal information to BadCustomer.com to blacklist consumers but more troubling, it is unclear exactly who BadCustomer.com really is.
Who is BadCustomer.com?
BadCustomer.com is rather obscure about exactly who they are which is just not comforting for a company that stores personal information on consumers and is probably a credit reporting agency.
Their domain ownership is hidden. They do mention they are BadCustomer, Inc. and located at 100 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 750, Santa Monica, CA 90401, but according to a search of the State of California corporate records, there is no company registered to do business in California as BadCustomer, Inc. and I could not find BadCustomer.com located at suite 750.
The company I was able to locate at 100 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 750, Santa Monica, CA 90401 was a company called Invitation Entertainment, Inc. – Source And the Invitation Entertainment site says it is located at that address. Invitation Entertainment says it is “A new multifaceted entertainment company specializing in film, television, music production, and personal management is headed by legendary manager and film producer Ron Samuels.” – Source. By the time of this publication, no response was received from Invitation Entertainment to help explain why the companies shared the same office address as BadCustomer.com. When asked, Brien Heideman, VP of BadCustomer.com did not provide any clarification.
Some references say that BadCustomer.com is owned and operated by Bottom Dollar, Inc.
Brien Heideman told me “Bottom Dollar Inc is a company registered in Nevada. Our corporate headquarters are indeed at the address you have however any lease our company takes out is typically ran through other entity’s.”
So I am confused why the BadCustomer.com site constantly refers to it belonging to BadCustomer, Inc. when by Heideman’s own admission that company is part of Bottom Dollar, Inc. Could that just be sloppiness? I hope they do a more accurate job of dealing with confidential client information.
But a search of the California corporate records could find no registered company in California under the name Bottom Dollar, Inc. – Source
Some comments online led me to look in Nevada to see if the company was registered there and there is a Bottom Dollar, Inc registered in Nevada and controlled by Kevin Pilon from Saint George, Utah. – Source. Kevin Pilon was contacted by email regarding his relationship with BadCustomer.com and Bottom Dollar, Inc. but by the time of publication, he did not respond.
When asked about the relationship between Jeremy Johnson, Invitation Entertainment and BadCustomer.com, Brien Heidman said, “The reason all our info isn’t public is because we don’t want it that way and we’d like to keep it that way.” He also said, ” I’m sure the story will be negative ….which is surprising since we are an advocate for the consumer.” Really? It’s hard to believe that a company that calls itself BadCustomer is an advocate for the consumer.
Oh, by the way when the e-commerce company runs your info through the badcustomer.com database, they are releasing your information into the hands of these crooks. Sure, it’s supposed to be secure, if everything was so secure than how does identity theft and unauthorized charges even appear in the first place? Maybe that is why so may people are on here with no knowledge whatsoever how their personal information was released. They are located in St. George and travel with offices in Nevada, but also in Santa Monica. – Source
But the person that speaks out most for BadCustomer.com is Brien Heideman, former funeral director (source) and mortuary school graduate (source), who is labeled as the co-founder, CEO, president, and vice president. – Source, Source, Source
Heideman told me that he is the vice president of BadCustomer.com and Jeremy Johnson is the president.
Oh Jeremy Johnson
Jeremy Johnson, the President of BadCustomer.com has had some trouble and court cases regarding his previous business dealings. His company I Works, Inc. was sued by eBay and settled with a judgment against it. – Source.
He also had a suit by a former partner in an attempt to recover money allegedly owed. – Source.
Johnson was also charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for “Fraud in Connection with the Purchase or Sale of Securities” and “Undisclosed Compensation for Stock Touting.” – Source. Johnson latter returned $315,919.82 “representing his ill-gotten gains as a result of the conduct alleged.” He also had to pay an additional $56,687.07 in prejudgment interest as well and a civil penalty of $55,000. – Source.
Jeremy Johnson and his I Works company in 2006 were again the subject of an intellectual property lawsuit for selling materials that did not belong to him through his sites 4guaranteedsuccess.com, tvc-marketing.com, iworks-inc.com, easyinternetbusiness.com netbizideas.com, netsuccessnow.com, iworks.com, and onlinesecureorders.com. – Source. Johnson’s company, I Works, Inc, entered into a judgment to return money collected. – Source
Apparently Johnson is not a stranger to fraud investigations.
Several attorneys at the attorney general’s office have known of Johnson for much longer. That’s because they’d been involved in taking legal actions against his company for more than a year for allegations of fraud.
Johnson failed to mention that last July—about the same time he generously financed the building of the “house off of Bluff”—he had also been served with citations from the Utah Division of Consumer Protection for 49 counts of charging a consumer for non-consensual transactions and for six counts in violation of the Telephone Fraud Prevention act. These charges were brought on behalf of the state by Jeffrey Buckner of the Utah Attorney General’s Commercial Enforcement Division.
All charges revolved around Johnson’s company IWorks which court documents alleged offered a service selling a kind of “how-to” program for people seeking government grants. Individuals signed up for free information only to find that they were being charged for what they considered to be hidden monthly fees.
The fraud counts alleged IWorks telemarketers promised approval for sizeable Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to customers from across the nation. The complaint filed by the attorney general’s office alleges that salesmen misrepresented the facts and made false guarantees to customers bout their eligibility for government grants. One woman from Alabama was told that because she was black, she would receive $200,000 out of which she could pay off the $10,000 IWorks program fee. Later, she could get it taken off her taxes. The charges allege that the woman felt she was dealing with someone associated with the government program because the person described himself or herself as “SBA Express Funding.”
Complaints alleged a frustrating runaround as different grant “coaches” would redirect customers’ questions and promise to compose business plans for them. Many individuals’ phone calls weren’t returned and several were denied refunds, according to documents.
The case saw motions flying back and forth between IWorks’ attorneys and the attorney general’s office throughout the summer and up till December of 2007. – Source
“The cases were dismissed after the company, which sold “how-to” programs to people seeking government grants or loans, agreed to change its sales tactics and gave refunds to unhappy customers.” – Source
A comment from consumers on ComplaintsBoard.com brought up an interesting allegation that Johnson related companies may be participating in the BadCustomer.com scheme.
Notice all of their DBA companies listed below. Also, be aware they own badcustomer.com and will threaten you that you will be blacklisted and have to pay. They are only getting more of your money. Complain to the Attorney General, the FTC, and any other organizations you can find. – Source
The BBB gives John’s I Works company a D-.
The BBB gives the following details about the company.
Name: I Works Inc
Phone: (435) 688-0634
Fax: (435) 688-8032
Address: 249 E Tabernacle St Ste 200
St George, UT 84770-2968
Original Business Start Date: July 2000
Principal: Mr. Jeremy Johnson, President
Customer Contact: Ms Liz Jones, Complaint Specialist
Type of Business: Web Designers, Business Consultants, Financial Aid Organizations, Government Grant Services, Internet Marketers, Online Shopping Sites
BBB Accreditation: I Works Inc is not a BBB Accredited business.
Additional DBA Names: mygrantsite.net
Net Success Now
Online Auction Solutions
Coaching Office, The
Government Grant Advisor
Additional company management personnel include:
Mr. Scott leavitt – Finance Manager
Mr. Bryce Payne – Operations Manager
Additional Locations and Phone Numbers
251 Hilton Dr Ste 200
St George, UT 84770
251 Hilton Drive, Suite 200
Saint George, UT 84770
PO Box 1870
St George, UT 84771-1870
Additional Phone Numbers
Tel: (800) 767-0417
Tel: (435) 627-9664
Tel: (800) 609-0685
Tel: (800) 479-0979 – Source
Another site, GrantSearch has an extensive entry on the operations of Jeremy Johnson, the President of BadCustomer.com.
ARE YOU THE VICTIM OF A UTAH SCAM?
Were you billed on your credit or debit card statement as: GRANTSEARCH, GRANTSEARCH.COM, PM-GRANTSEARCH.COM, INE GRANTSEARCH or BSA-GRANTSEARCH?
If you were, the charges are not from GrantSearch, and are likely fraudulent. Genuine charges for GrantSearch products will appear on your statement as ‘WP-QJ PTY LTD TAS PERTH AU’ (explanation: WP is our payment gateway WorldPay, QJ PTY LTD is the name of our parent company, TAS means Trading As, and PERTH AU is our location).
You’ve come to our site because of unauthorized charges on your bank statement from unrecognized sources, and unfortunately you’ve been scammed. You probably applied for a free sample of a health product, or a trial subscription to a wealth creation service, and supplied your card details for a shipping or processing fee of about $1.97 or $2.95.
You may then have found yourself enrolled in a program with recurring fees of up to $79.90 a month, with no way of opting out except for calling a number that’s been disconnected or doesn’t answer. You might recall the name of the website that lured you in, but they often sell your details to affiliate websites you didn’t visit and have never even heard of. Real examples of these are shown at the bottom of this page.
One of the many scamming networks in Utah operates a number of fake federal grant and funding schemes based on the same template, selling the same product, but with slightly different names, eg Grant Search Assistant, Free Grants, Grant Search Finder, Grant Master, GrantSearcher, Grant Search Network, or Fast Govt Grants, Fed Grant USA, First Gov Grants, SBA Express Funding etc. These names are chosen to resemble government departments and reputable companies, and make people believe they are dealing with a trustworthy entity. When abbreviated on bank statements they look exactly like authentic companies like ours.
GrantSearch is a legitimate business in Western Australia, providing information about Australian grants and scholarships since our trading name was registered in 1994. We are not associated in any way with the above companies or their affiliates.
This scheme is run by iWorks (not to be confused with the Apple product of that name), a company owned by Utah multi-millionaire Jeremy Johnson. Complaints and requests for refunds should be addressed to his office at 249 E Tabernacle St, St George, UT 84770, [email protected], phone 435-688-0634, or home address 1673 Cliff Rose Drive, St George, UT 84790-6172, phone 435-656-0719.
In the meantime, if your credit card was charged, lodge chargeback requests with your card issuer for every disputed charge except for the initial small amount for shipping/processing. It is important not to dispute that one since you agreed to the charge, and denying it gives the scammer a chance to defend all the chargebacks by saying you lied, especially if you received the free trial product. Then you must cancel your credit card and get one with a new number.
If your debit card was charged, you are unlikely to get any refunds, and may have to close down the entire account, replacing it with another with a new number.
In both cases, any free trial products you’ve received, but didn’t ask for, should be returned to the sender unopened.
To get these scams in Utah out of business, lodge complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, your local Attorney General and Better Business Bureau. Similar scams are now being brought to justice, with settlements ordered to be made to those who have lost money www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/12/ultralife.shtm. It is useless complaining to the Utah Attorney General as Jeremy Johnson contributed to his campaign funds and was later acquited of charges brought by his department.
Genuine GrantSearch subscribers receive an email confirmation with UserName and Password reminder, numbered taxation receipt, and our contact details. Unless your query concerns payments with Merchant ID WP-QJ PTY LTD TAS PERTH AU, we will not respond to emails or letters, or answerphone messages (Western Australia is 12 hours ahead of the US and we’re likely to be asleep when you call).
For future reference, you are strongly advised not to submit your account details to websites publishing no street address, named staff members or email contacts. Reputable businesses want you to be able to find them – if you can’t it’s because they’ve got something to hide!
Other warning signs are:
being directed to web addresses different from the original site, for no good reason (in contrast, our secure online payments are handled by pixeltech.com.au, the company that designed and host our web site, as indicated in the Website Design link at the bottom of this page).
terms and conditions being governed by offshore laws of countries like Bermuda or Belize.
a lack of links from the home page, or ‘testimonials’ linking to external sites.
no method of payment other than by online credit or debit card.
no samples showing what to expect if the product is purchased.
yourfederalandprivategrantcd.com – Source
Consumer Advocates Have an Issue With BadCustomer.com
On more than one occasion consumer advocates have spoken out about BadCustomer.com.
“I believe the federal trade commission should investigate this,” Mierzwinski (with U.S. Public Interest Research Group] says. Unlike regular credit bureaus, these sites are problematic in part because you can’t get credit for doing the right thing; you only can be flagged for doing the wrong thing, even if that “wrong” move is a justifiable merchant complaint on your part. The problem, Mierzwinski says, is that a site like BadCustomer “doesn’t give you As, only Fs.” – Source
Note for example, the database of consumers who have disputed charges on their bills; certain of these customers are put into a database that is marketed as “badcustomer.” The badcustomer.com web site states: “Are your purchasing transactions being denied? Find out if you’ve been blacklisted before it’s too late.” We have a question about identity theft victims — individuals who have to dispute charges. Are they in this database? What services, goods, and opportunities will victims of identity theft be denied because they are in this database? How many lists like this exist that consumers don’t know anything about?
We also note that to get off the badcustomer list, consumers must supply detailed information online. How are consumers supposed to hear about every database list like this? How is badcustomers.com using the consumers’ information after receiving it? Is this company doing more than just taking people off of the bad customer list?
We suggest that consumer data collection is out of control, with no balancing consumer rights or requirements for transparency to counterweight the collection and usage activity. – Source
Consumers Pay to Be Removed from BadCustomer.com
From it’s inception in July, 2009 to March, 2010, BadCustomer.com was charging consumers at least $99 to have their name removed from their database.
As of Mach 9, 2010 the company says it no longer charges a fee and I wonder if that had something to do with the company being labeled a credit reporting agency. At least one state, Maine, sent a cease and desist notice to the company to stop collecting information on its residents. – Source
Brien Heideman of Bad Customer.com told me “We are not a credit agency and have worked sufficiently with all parities involved to show that we don’t want to portray that perception.” But BadCustomer.com also provides a Fair Credit Reporting Act furnisher notice so it appears to me that as much as they don’t want to be a credit reporting agency they label themselves a credit reporting agency. – Source
We’re pleased to announce that, after months of development, BadCustomer, Inc. has made a number of changes on its site and its systems to make it friendlier and more informative for consumers, and even more secure and useful for businesses. Here are some highlights:
- Removing yourself from the BadCustomer list is now free. You simply need to agree to exhaust all possibilities for a refund (or use our free Dispute Mediation service) the next time you are faced with a possible chargeback situation.
But some confusion still exists if they are still interested in charging consumers when they continue to offer an affiliate program that says they do.
When your affiliate companies reject customers that are in the BadCustomer.com database the customer will have to pay a fee to be removed from the blacklist. First offense removal fees are up to $99 and can go up to $1,000 for people who are removed more than once. You receive 20% of the removal fee for all customers that are blocked from your affiliate companies. – Source
How Worthwhile is BadCustomer.com?
According to Visa, even if a consumer has had a previous chargeback, no merchant can refuse to accept a credit card if it is valid. – Source
And in my research I was unable to locate any merchant that said they used the services of BadCustomer.com or their site was “Powered by BadCustomer.com” as the BadCustomer.com site says they may be. – Source
Heideman says, “We have over 1000 companies that have signed up to partner with badcustomer and identify accessive chargebacks.” But I have yet been unable to locate any of those companies and BadCustomer.com fails to provide any evidence who they work with.BadCustomer.com Investigative Report. Is it a Scam or Something You Need to Be Afraid Of? by Steve Rhode