Local businesses, communities, and school districts are reporting they have received misleading solicitations from US Telecom (aka UST Development, Inc.) a company based in Ontario, CA.
In September of 2011, the L.A. BBB challenged the company’s mailed solicitations designed to look like an invoice. The solicitation does not include a disclosure statement, which informs the recipient that the mailer is in fact a solicitation, and not an invoice for payment. The BBB also advised the company to modify the layout of the advertisement to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding by the recipient. The company did not respond to the BBB’s request.
According to other reports found online, US Telecom sent the invoices to businesses for “maintenance warranties” in amounts ranging from $175 to $425. These invoices appear to be bills for services rendered but are actually solicitations for business. One of these invoices has been received by the Village of Buffalo Grove. (See example below)
“If you receive an unsolicited invoice from a company for something you haven’t ordered, check the validity before considering payment,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “As with any purchase, read the fine print and check the free Business Reviews at www.bbb.org.”
On February 17, 2012 the North Dakota Attorney General’s office took action against US Telecom issuing an order to cease and desist mailings in that state because they could easily be interpreted as a bill or invoice requiring payment.
The company’s BBB Business Review shows that US Telecom has a BBB rating of F and that 244 complaints filed against the business in the last 12 months. The company responds to some complaints by advising complainants the invoice they received was NOT for services rendered but instead for preventative maintenance for the year to come. According to the company, an invoice is sent out once a year for a full service maintenance agreement to all the companies in their database. This invoice is optional; it is not a mandatory service. The company contends that the invoice has disclosures that it is not a bill.
Should a business receive a questionable invoice they are advised to contact the BBB at 312-832-0500 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.