Victim Location 95993
Type of a scam Charity
The company involved goes by several names. Three of which include Applause, Encore, and GDSI. The applausepoints.com and encorepoints.com websites actually lead to the same websites (same content, graphics, layout, and contact info), but with different URLs and page titles.
This is a charity/magazine sales scam. Someone or a pair of people will show up at your door claiming that they are fundraising for their school by selling magazines. The points earned from this will help them pay for tuition to study abroad. The company they work for is a nonprofit that’s associated with their school, and the magazines you purchase will be donated to a hospital of your choice or an organization that works with veterans. They will tell you that they work for a company such as Applause or Applause points, and give you a receipt that says GDSI on it (no mention of Applause). When you ask about donating through the website instead, they say that you can but they will not receive their points because the system is not set up in a way that allows you to give credit to the salesperson. Also, the amount they say you’re going to spend might not match the amount on the final receipt. My receipt had an additional $15 on it.
This is not a fundraiser. The company is not a nonprofit, nor is it associated with any schools or hospitals. When you research these companies, you can see that they go by several names, claim no responsibility for their salespeople (even though their salespeople say that they work for them), and do not allow you to place orders through their websites. They also don’t pick up the phone if you call. To cancel your order (or donation as they call it, even though it’s not a donation as for-profit companies cannot receive donations) you must send your cancellation form within 3 days of placing the order. This includes weekends and holidays allowing them to make it close to impossible to get your cancellation postmarked on time if they show up on a Friday or Saturday or during a holiday.
They are banking on customers handing over cash or checks, or providing credit card details and then never checking to see if magazines were donated in their names to the chosen organizations. After looking this company up online, I found that several customers did call to see if magazine donations had been made only to find that no magazines were received by the institutions, and in some cases, those institutions did not even accept such donations anyway.
After the salespeople, who were calling themselves fundraisers, left I couldn’t help but feel uneasy about the donation, which turned out not to even be a donation. I canceled the card I used for the transaction on the same day and alerted the bank about possible fraud as a reason for the cancellation. I’m lucky no charges had shown up yet. If you provide a check, canceling it might not be enough as your bank details are included on the check. You’ll need to talk directly with your bank and possibly get a new account to avoid the company attempting to charge you for the order (which they only got from you due to their lies) and for cancellation fees or check bouncing fees.
I also sent the cancellation form just in case within the 3-day window. The address they provide for the cancellation does not have a business name on it. They simply tell you to send it to a PO Box in Colorado. At the post office, an employee informed me that without a name and address, the letter is likely to be sent back to me. So I then added all the known aliases to the envelope and sent the cancellation via Priority Mail so that I’d have tracking and proof of the date it was sent as this company is clearly not trustworthy at all.