Have you been charged by Premier Membership Clubs? If so, you’re not alone. On Scambook, we’ve received almost 3000 complaints against this company, with a staggering $771,799 in total reported damages. To add insult to injury, most consumers haven’t even heard of Premier Membership Clubs. Over and over again, our members ask, What is this company? Why are they charging me? How did they get my credit card number? I didn’t order anything from them, or sign up for a subscription, so why am I getting these monthly fees on my bill? Well, I decided to do some sleuthing and get answers. Here’s what I uncovered.
As always, I started my investigation on Scambook. We received our first report against Premier Membership Clubs in August, 2011, and the complaints haven’t stopped rolling in. Users report that this unknown online company charges them $99.49. They didn’t authorize any purchase or make any orders. In some cases, users recently applied for a payday loan, but they didn’t sign up for any Membership Club when they received their loan. For many members, the $99.49 charge results in overdraft fees and other financial hardship. These members often tell us that they’re unemployed, living on a fixed income or that they’re single parents.
Is It Fraud? Following the Digital Trail
A Google search for Premier Membership Clubs turns up more evidence against this company. A press release from Pioneer Services Military Banking in Kansas City, MO, claims that PMC has falsely used their name to target veterans and members of the armed forces. Consumers who called PMC to complain had been told that PMC got their information from Pioneer Military Loans.
“Pioneer Services is just the latest company to have its name tarnished in this scam,” said the bank’s Chief Marketing Officer Karen Von Der Bruegge. “And I can assure our customers that we do not sell that type of information to any company. In fact, we don’t share any information at all without implicit consent from our customers.”
So PMC has hurt honest people who are down on their luck and military families? If this is a legitimate company, they certainly don’t have any scruples.
I tried to find more information about Premier Membership Clubs from their website, but it doesn’t clarify anything. There isn’t much content on PMC’s website except for fields where you can enter your order number (this must be very useful for users who don’t remember placing any orders!) and an 800 number for customer service.
I dialed the number to hear what they have to say about themselves. The automated voice that picked up didn’t mention Premier Membership Clubs by name; instead, it thanked me for calling “your customer service.” Then, as I waited for a human representative, it told me, “You became our customer when you authorized an order for one of the products we support.” The recording also repeated an address for a different support website.
After a few minutes of soothing elevator music, a representative finally answered. I told her I’d been charged and I didn’t know why. She gave me a slightly different version of the recording’s vague answer, stating that I joined PMC when I registered for something called the Saving Pays Club. She said she couldn’t be more specific unless I gave her my bank account number. I thanked her and promptly hung up.
Premier Membership Clubs, Also Known As…
The pieces were beginning to fall into place. Saving Pays Club purports to be a discount subscription website selling a rather broad range of services, from restaurant coupons and shopping deals to payday loans and identity theft protection. They have 59 reports on Scambook, raking in approximately $6700 in reported damages. And can you guess what these reports say? That’s right. An unauthorized charge for $99.49.
Looking closely, the Saving Pays Club sign up page offers this tiny little bit of fine print: “A one-time membership fee of $99.49 will be debited by Premier Memberships Clubs upon enrollment.”
In other words, they’re closely affiliated – if not run by the very same people. By exploring the Saving Pays Club website, I found links to SavingPaysYouNow.com, CashLoan.com and YourCustomerServiceOnline.com. The last one is an obvious alias for PMC. In fact, even though the domain is different, YourCustomerServiceOnline.com is a duplicate of the website that the PMC recording mentioned. I also discovered a third domain that share their content, YourSupportDepartment.com.
Unfortunately, my trail began to run cold, but I think I’ve gathered enough clues. Let’s review. Thousands of reports on Scambook. Suspicious unauthorized charges. Vague customer service representatives. A network of fishy websites. A real, legitimate financial institution that says PMC has taken advantage of military families.
Who is Premier Membership Clubs and why are they charging you? Well, PMC may not be crooks, but they’re very, very misleading. They’re charging you because you applied for a payday loan or a discount offer from one of their numerous affiliate sites, and those sites conveniently buried the fine print. The $99.49 charge on your credit card bill is a hidden “processing fee” for a membership you unknowingly purchased.
What You Should Do If You’re Charged by PMC
Based on our members’ reports, and my own brief yet frustrating encounter with PMC’s customer service, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a refund from them any time soon. However, some of our members say that their bank reversed the charges. If you notice a charge from Premier Membership Clubs, or any other organization you don’t recommend, call your financial institution immediately.
So spread the word about Premier Membership Clubs. Hopefully, they won’t take advantage of more people and we can say this case is closed.