Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cooking Club of America

This post is a bit off topic, but I was wondering if any of you are familiar with the Cooking Club of America.  According to the Minnesota Better Business Bureau, their parent company is North American Membership Group, Inc.

My mom joined the club over a year ago.  In addition to several other misleading incidents (such as believing membership cost was $1.00, then receiving a bill a few months later for $59, claiming she was past due on her membership payments; and reading she would receive a new book to purchase or return every 3 weeks, which turned into 3 books a month), she began receiving notices that she was past due on payments for a book she returned and received notification from the club that the book had been received and a $0.00 balance remained.  In addition, the cost of the book has gone up.

She called the company on Monday, after receiving yet another notice, and was told they had no record of receiving the book, or of the copies she sent them of the notification the book was received.  In addition, she was told that her membership payment that was due in May had not been received.  (According to the bank, it cleared on May 9th.)  Then she was told to disregard any further notifications.

Yesterday, she received a notice that the club was flagging her membership and would be sending her account to collections because she failed to pay for the book and she has failed to respond to their prior notifications.  She planned to ignore this notice, because of what she was told the day before.  I encouraged her to call just to confirm everything was okay. 

Then my husband Googled the club on-line.  I called my mom back and told her I would call for her.  Her health is not good to begin with, and the stress this club is causing is making her physically ill.  If this club is the scam most everything we read on-line indicated, dealing with this is the last thing she needs.  I hope I am proved wrong about the scam, and it is just a misunderstanding that will be cleared up.  If so, I will be sure to let you all know.

According to the website for the Minnesota Better Business Bureau, my mom is not alone.  I will be calling The Cooking Club of America tomorrow in hopes of resolution.  Based upon the numerous complaints I have read on-line (dating back as far as 2008), I fear that may not resolve the problem - but I hope I am wrong!  On the up side, according to the MN BBB, the company seems to resolve complaints placed with BBB by honoring requests to cancel memberships (this would be good to know for those people that posted complaints they were still receiving invoices 3 years later), discontinuing billing and collection efforts, and providing refunds wherever they were due.  My understanding from reading the MN BBB's comments about the North American Membership Group, Inc., is that the 804 complaints they have received over the past 3 years (295 during the past 12 months) are a small number for a company of this size, so this was a factor that increased the company's rating with the BBB, combined with the fact that they resolved the complaints presented by the Bureau.  At least I know what step to take if calling tomorrow does not work.

Has anyone had a positive experience with this club?  I am hoping for the best!

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