Telemarketing Offers

MGR promises help with federal grants and racks up hundreds of consumer complaints

Ultimately, Batrick's business mantra boils down to this: "We don't know what or where the companies, you know, are doing business. We're just providing services for them."

Indeed, it's a business model that has served MGR Solutions very well. For anyone but a government agent with a subpoena, it's next to impossible to find out the names behind MGR Solutions. And according to the complaints on Ripoff­Report, MGR representatives often use common last names, making positive identification even harder.

The folks at MGR showed a bit more creativity with their supposed public relations officer, Michael Bollen. Responding to the RipoffReport complaints, "Bollen" fired off a press release in June 2006 that carries on the fine MGR tradition of crappy writing. Bollen starts by chastising the folks who are "condoning our good corporate name with innuendos." Plunging further into a maelstrom of idiocy, Bollen offers his customized definition of "government grants": "'Grants' is just a word, and many forms of assistance are available from a variety of private and government programs and go by other names, including, for example, 'subsidies,' 'insurance,' 'awards, 'preferential loans,' etc."

The kicker comes in the closing, when Bollen deftly borrows from the venerable I'm-Rubber-and-You're-Glue Playbook: "These posts are being used to blemish a spotless and untarnished name. If there is one shred of evidence that we are not a good corporate citizen, then please submit the facts, rather than wild and reckless accusations that are unfounded!"

The press release does not include Bollen's definition of the word "fact."

While MGR Solutions' Web site disappeared, there are plenty of others with identical copy, right down to the testimonies and photographs of satisfied ­customers.

But with all the shuffling around of copy and domain names, the Web sites sometimes look like someone couldn't keep their scams straight and made a mistake. For example, the phone number for Best American Grants, an MGR clone, appears in small print in one section of the Web site for a company called Consumer Assistance & Consulting Services, which supposedly sells products and services to protect consumers from telemarketing fraud. However, the main contact number for Consumer Assistance & Consulting is an entirely different number. Of course, both numbers go to the same place.

When the Press called the number for Best American Grants and asked to speak to a representative of that company, a guy named Tony said he'd never heard of it. He explained that he was an outsourced customer service rep for four other companies, whose identities he did not want to reveal. He insisted they did not include Best American Grants.

Tony didn't want to give a last name or connect the Press to representatives of any of the other companies. He insisted he could only talk with actual customers. I tried telling him that speaking to a company representative might really clear things up. Tony got mad and hung up. He did this a few times, both when he was reached on the government grants site and on the protect-you-from-­government-grants Web site. By the end, unfortunately, it wound up getting ­personal.

I started to say: "I don't believe a word of what you're saying, and it would really help me out —" but he cut me off.

Before hanging up, he parted with this message: "You don't believe a word [of] what I'm saying? Well, I'm going to tell you something, you fucking dog. I don't talk to people who call me a liar, so fuck yourself."

These are the kind of people the government can't catch.

craig.malisow@houstonpress.com

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