Buyer beware: A national company claims to provide $2,000 in free groceries … but a local customer claims it's a big scam.
American Value Grocery claims in a local radio commercial consumers can get $2,000 in free groceries.
When you call them the company, the call center representative claims the same thing … but as one local customer found out, what you get is something totally different.
Local woman scammed
Patricia Blanton thought she found an easy way to save money on groceries.
"My brother came over here. He was all excited about it," says Blanton. "They give you certificates that you take to the store and buy groceries."
Her brother heard the radio ad and gave his sister the info. So Blanton called the company … American Value Grocery.
The call center representative told her for $19.95 she would get $2,000 in vouchers for free groceries … vouchers she could use like cash. But that is not what she got in the mail.
"This is what you get," says Blanton, as she sorts through dozens of coupons, "you get coupons. I got a whole bunch of them."
WSBT reporter Kristin Bien called the same phone number advertised to find out what’s offered.
After the call center representative identified herself as “Marie,” she asked several questions my spending habits.
Then, I asked her: "So do I get $2,000 in free groceries from this?"
"Pretty much," Marie answered.
"Do they send me a debit card or something," I asked.
"It will be like a voucher," Marie said.
"So, coupons," I repeated.
"No, we call them vouchers," said Marie. "They are $1 to $5 off, but there is no specified item. You can use it on whatever you want to use it on."
Local woman's not alone in disputing company's claims
Blanton believes she was lied to and scammed.
"I am angry. Because I don't think it is fair that people use poor people to try and get rich," says Blanton.
There are hundreds of other people who feel just as scammed as Blanton. The Better Business Bureau gives an 'F' rating to American Value Grocery. And hundreds of people have logged complaints on a website called www.scambook.com. There are similar websites online that also have received complaints about American Value Grocery.
The company's owner did not return WSBT’s phone call, but emailed a statement. In that email he claims the company has had some growing pains, especially since they outsource call centers.
The statement reads:
"We have learned through this process that not all call centers are created equal as far as sales techniques. The overly aggressive practices of some of our call center vendors definitely created some issues for us earlier on insofar as consumer complaints. Once these issues became known to us, we took steps to correct the issues including the mischaracterization by some call center sales agents of American Value as a "voucher" program, which it is not."