New Consumer Smartphone App looking for funding

Over the past few months we have been blogging about issues of interest to consumers. We have also taken our vision to the next level by creating a Smartphone application. The application is called BlastEm. We at Consumer Angel want to thank all of you who have been following our blog for the last 8 months.

BlastEm allows the consumer to have direct email contact with the senior management of over 250,000 US businesses. The BlastEm user is able to send their communication directly to top management about a problem, a great experience or a suggestion. Additionally, the BlastEm user can copy the press, social media, regulators and business reviewers with their communication AND it can contain photos and videos to emphasize their point.

Consumer Angel, Inc. is excited to be launching an IndieGogo Campaign on Aug. 26, 2013 to showcase our BlastEm application. Indiegogo is a crowdfunding site that provides a forum for small businesses to raise money. We are looking to raise $50,000.00 on the crowd funding site IndieGogo to complete the application and roll it out to Smartphone users around the US.

For any questions contact us at questions@consumersangel.com

On Monday, August 26th find us on http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/smartphone-app-connecting-consumer-to-top-management

#Consumer #ConsumerAdvocate #BlastEm

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BlastEm Successful for Bridget

Last week we blogged about a problem that Bridget had with Met Life. She was charged for a premium without her consent. She had made a number of phone calls over several days period without satisfaction from the Met Life personnel with whom she spoke.

Sunday evening she used the BlastEm App. (which is still in the testing phase) to send her message of dissatisfaction to three people in authority positions: Steven Kandarian, the CEO of Met Life; the Chairperson of the New York State Committee of Consumer Affairs and Protection, and the Superintendent of the New York State Department of Finance. Her complaint was posted on Twitter as well.

The Results:

Within 15 hours, her post received a Tweet from the Social Networking group of Met Life promising their assistance. We are pleased to report that soon afterwards she was refunded $1,886.28 by Met Life.

It is clear by this example, that the Internet and Social media have become powerful tools in getting the attention of businesses. They allow the consumer, who has been wronged, to receive attention by posting their story publicly on the internet. In addition, the BlastEm App. directed her complaint to other interested parties that could assist her including social media.

We have all been stuck where Bridget was. We have all felt angry and frustrated. We have all felt we had nowhere to turn. We at Consumers Angel are confident that the BlastEm App. will be a powerful force in resolving a variety of consumer complaints. Utilizing the App. will direct your grievance to the right parties thereby greatly increasing the chance of a swift resolution.

We will release the first version of BlastEm in the next few months so you can all have the same power that Bridget had.

In the interim, you are welcome to contact us at angel

How MetLife Cheated a Consumer out of $3,200

Consumers Angel is testing a new App called BlastEm. The App helps consumers directly register their complaint with a business that has wronged them in some way. Social media and regulators can also be notified using this App., thereby generating more attention to the consumer’s complaint.

Below is a Blast written by one of our application testers. This is an actual complaint, is it not a made up scenario.

The BlastEm App simultaneously delivered her complaint to the CEO of MetLife, the Chair of the New York State Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, the Administrator of the New York State Department of Financial Services (which regulates both Banks and Insurance companies) as well as Twitter.

We will be following this closely and report the response over the next few weeks.
———
Dear Mr. Kandarian,

I was your customer for seven years with a Group Universal Life policy as a Citibank employee. In addition to coverage, I chose to add a little cash each month thereby building higher cash value which reached the tidy sum of $3,919.56. I am shocked and deeply dismayed by what occurred when I severed from Citi.

My end date was March 12th.

You said Citi notified you on March 26th.

WITHOUT notifying me – you took funds to cover March 13th through the end of the month out of the cash value.

Then you sent me a letter in April, saying that I am now responsible for the monthly premium of $1,926.27 AND, you pulled that from my account, too!

When I phoned, to say, No, Thanks, please send me the $4,000 I had saved, you told me the amount was now approximately $800 because 1) you had taken enough to cover March and 2) you cannot prorate the April coverage, it was already deducted.

So, you can prorate when it suits YOU, but not when I request it?

I had no opportunity to claim my cash – the timing of your notifications (perhaps Citi is partly to blame?) and your cycles stack the deck 100% against the consumer.

You led me to believe that I was creating a nice cushion, doing the right thing – but in fact, YOU were building a little account that you then ROBBED on my way out the door. From $4,000 down to $800 – and no opportunity to prevent to loss.

At best, this is really bad business – but I think it’s also unethical and if not illegal, it should be.

With disgust and anger,

Bridget Thexton

#MetLife #MetLifeTermLifePolicy #TermLifeScam #InsuranceCompanyScam
———

The Power of Social Media

The scandal at Rutgers University has recently flooded our news media. It is but one example of a long standing issue that most of us have had some experience with.  What is acceptable conduct for coaches, educators and school staff?

Moreover, how do we, Consumers of the educational system, have our voices heard when these behaviors warrant the firing of such individuals.  Yes, we are PAYING for the education of our children in one form or another.

We (parents, taxpayers, students) pay either fully or in part for the education of our students (both public and private) either directly or via taxes taken at the state level.  Therefore, one can argue, we are in part “employers” of these educators.  However, unlike other “employers” who are empowered to swiftly and directly eliminate an ineffective, abusive or inappropriate employee, ousting an educator at any level is no easy task.

Who hasn’t heard of or had an educator that has no place in the lives of children?  How many parents have scratched their heads and whispered among themselves; how did that person get tenure?  How many children have been scarred, shamed, and simply NOT EDUCATED by these same emotionally unstable folks?  Why would the administration allow a person with severe anger issues or poor behavior continue to teach year in and year out?  What recourse does a parent/student have if they have been the brunt of this abuse?

Why would Consumers continue to remain quiet in the face of this common problem without issuing a complaint?  Why is it when there is a complaint, often these offenders are allowed to remain in their positions?

Tenure, bureaucracy and the lack of effective review policies often contribute to keeping on staff that has no place in any workplace, particularly in schools where poor behaviors directly impact the lives of impressionable young people.

 When the President of Rutgers university was first shown the tapes of the abusive behavior of Mike Rice (former basketball coach), he opted to send Mr. Rice for anger management classes, hoping to remediate Mr. Rice.  This remediation did nothing to change Mr. Rice; however, he was allowed to continue his employment with this University.  He was allowed to continue to brutalize students.  The parents at this institution were paying over $25,000 per year to allow for a mentally ill individual to Coach and represent their school.

 It is only because videotapes of his sick coaching techniques had been leaked to social media, that this egregious situation has finally been brought to light, and he was terminated.

Social media continues to play a powerful role in catching and forcing those in leadership positions to realize they are not above the law, nor above a moral standard of acceptable behavior.  It is our hope at Consumer Angel that parents and students continue to realize that they are a powerful force for change.  If you are a victim of an abusive person, even in school, the first option is to speak to the Principal or head of the University.  If this yields no results, document all behaviors, words, actions.  Have fellow students and parents cosign and also document such behaviors, if possible.  If you are still being ignored, the power of social media is becoming a fast growing outlet for rapid attention and change.  We no longer need to accept, unacceptable behavior….Particularly when we are paying for it!!

Social media has given us, the Consumer, great power the correct bad behavior no matter where it occurs, whether in the classroom or a retail establishment.

We have the power;  We just need to use it.

#consumer #consumerangel #socialmedia

The Power of Social Media

In the past the ability of consumers to complain and achieve and positive result was difficult if not impossible. Most businesses chose to ignore complaints, send them to low level functionaries or in the most extreme cases threaten the person complaining with legal action. This has changed significantly over the past several years.

Six years ago, I was flying from Albuquerque to New York and I missed my flight do solely to an error on my part. The agent at Delta was not only extremely helpful but went out of her way to get me a hotel room at a reduced rate at a hotel near the airport and to book me on a red eye so I would get back to New York only a little late. I was extremely grateful and wanted to send a recommendation to the CEO of Delta about this outstanding employee. When I got back to New York, I called Delta’s 800 number and I asked for the CEO’s name and the address of corporate headquarters. I was given the fifth degree about why I wanted this information and was ultimately told that I should send my letter to a much lower level official at Delta. I went on the internet and in a few minutes found the information I was looking for and I sent the letter to Delta’s CEO.

The world is changing and I think even the large corporations with deep pockets are realizing that a confrontation with a small company or individual is potentially a big problem for them. As an example, in June of 2010 a gentleman named Giorgio Galante took AT&T to task in his blog. He also sent two emails and made two calls to AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson. He was threatened with legal action by AT&T management if he attempted to contact the CEO again. This story hit the social media and AT&T received tens of thousands of emails. Then it hit the print media and TV. AT&T formally apologized to Mr. Galante although not through its CEO.

Mr. Galante at the same time he had sent the email to Mr. Stephenson sent a similar email to the now late Steve Jobs at Apple about several iPhone issues. Mr. Jobs or someone on his staff on his behalf responded to Mr. Galante on his concerns and what Apple’s position was and why.

The result, AT&T lost a customer and received a ton of publicity about it acting like a bully. Apple kept a loyal customer.

My credit report is messed up, what can I do?

My credit report is messed up, what can I do?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act was supposedly designed as a recourse for you to correct inaccurate information on your credit report . Unfortunately, the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Trans Union are ignoring the law with impunity. A recent study, as reported on 60 Minutes, showed that 20% of the 200,000,000 million people who have credit scores in the US have an error in their credit report. Additionally 10% have an error serious enough to adversely affect their credit score.

Your Credit score can affect your ability to get a loan, a mortgage and even a job as many employers now use your credit report as part of their background check.

What can you do short of hiring a lawyer and spending a great deal of money and time to fix this problem. There is no incentive for these companies to assist you in sorting out any credit errors you may legitimately have. You are NOT their customer. It is less expensive for these agencies to pay legal fees for the few people who do end up filing a law suit, then to assist each consumer who has a claim.

This is a systemic issue and you will need help from the government. If you have gone to the credit reporting agency with documentation of the error in your report and have received no satisfaction, here are the steps we recommend:

1) Send the documentation along with a letter explaining your problem to your State Attorney General, the US Attorney General (Eric Holder), your congressman, both of your Senators, your state assemblyman and state senator. In the letter be sure to mention that you feel this is a systemic flouting of the law and that only action on their part will resolve this.

2) Post your problem on your Facebook account and let all of your friends know. Ask them to join you in partitioning the government on this.

3) Send a tweet with the hash tag including the credit reporting agencies name in the hash tag.

4) Tweet about any positive responses you get from your elected officials.

This is not going to be an easy problem to resolve or one that will be settled quickly. The only way it will get fixed is if enough of us who have been affected by this make it a cause we are willing to fight for and we make it unprofitable for the credit reporting agencies not to obey the law and continue to ignore it.

How do I find local elected officials?

How do I find local elected officials?

You can create a web search in Google, Bing, etc. such as, “Your state legislature members” and you will receive a reply, for example, “Assembly Members – New York State Assembly”. Selecting the above result from your search will take you to your state government’s site where you will be prompted to enter your address in order to find the specifics about how to contact your representative.

You can also find county, town or city legislators in the same way. For example, if you are looking for your New York City councilperson, a search for “new york city council members” will send you to http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml where you can input your address and borough and you’ll receive your city councilpersons name, email and snail mail addresses.

Since our elected officials want our votes, they are usually easy to find once you know how to structure your search.