Consumers who attend “free” educational seminars and workshops in hopes of becoming millionaires may have another thing coming: “The upsell.” After listening to pitches, attendees are often convinced to pay upfront for training conferences, supplies, starter kits, products or memberships.
Further, Better Business Bureau frequently hears stories of high-pressure sales tactics, unfulfilled promises and undelivered goods or services.
Beware if advertisements, promotional materials and websites are:
- Marketing substantial income or profit with little effort or work required.
- Selling limited-time offers, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and life-changing results.
- Displaying unverifiable testimonials or endorsements from well-known figures.
- Missing full, valid contact information; P.O. Box numbers are not sufficient.
- Lacking written cancellation instructions and refund policies.
- Filled with asterisks, fine print and hard-to-understand language.
Beware if seminars or promoters are:
- On a travel schedule or based out of town.
- The only method for signing up, investing or purchasing.
- Evasive, unable to answer questions or unwilling to put verbal guarantees in writing.
Take free tips from BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
- See what others are really saying about seminars; run an Internet search.
- Find BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org; view complaint volumes and responsiveness.
- Try contacting companies by phone and email before making purchases.
- Cross-check physical addresses with state licensing agencies.
- Be skeptical of outlandish testimonials or performance guarantees.
- Get all promises, claims and purchase policies in writing.
- Read all contracts carefully before signing anything.
- Avoid impulsive spending. Take time to think it over. If pressured, walk away.
- Use credit cards, which may allow disputes on unfulfilled purchases within 60 days.
- Demand copies of receipts and order confirmations. Retain them.
- Understand the Federal Trade Commission’s three-day Cooling-Off Rule.
Complaints can be filed with BBB and the FTC.