MemberWorks (MWI)

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I have been billed $22.59 from some MemberWorks company, Toronto, Ontario, I know nothing about and of which I've received nothing. The Hudson Bay card was cancelled long before it even happened. The Bay actually destroyed the card as it was not working. How can a card be reactivated and charged by some kind of fraud company is beyond me.

Hudson Bay is affiliated in some way with them, I've been told by their customer service. My card was re-cancelled in March and they still send me a bill for the amount of $22.59, which they will not reverse. I was told they can't. I guess Hudson Bay is part of this scam. They say it's up to me to google the company and call them even thought it was done on an invalid card.


I submitted a complaint earlier about Essentials. Believe it or not, Essentials enrolled me AGAIN on a different credit card last month. Needless to say I called and ripped them a new one and advised them that if I found a charge on any of my future credit card statements from them, I'd report them to the FTC and the attorney general of every state in the union!

But the reason I'm writing is because I think your visitors need to be reminded that it's not enough to call and tell them to cancel your membership. I've done research elsewhere and found out that these companies usually tell you they will refund your money and it will take about 30 days. By the time 30 days comes and goes and you haven't received a refund, it is now too late for your card-issuing bank to do anything about it.

This is these companies' strategy to get and keep your money and deny you the services they hawked to steal your money in the first place (because, at that point, you DID ask them to cancel the membership. Too bad if you inadvertently did not get your refund).

The bottom line is this: If you see a charge from one of these companies on your credit-card statement, you need to contact the card-issuing bank RIGHT AWAY and demand they get your money back. If you report the defrauding right away as I did, your bank will most likely credit the purchase back to you and proceed on their own to attempt recovery from the company.

This is by far the worst rip-off perpetrated on the American public I've ever seen. Thanks for providing a forum for past victims to warn potential future ones.

We couldn't agree more. And we'd add only that it's essential to do more than call: your should also write to your credit card company and Essentials, using certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep copies. Faxes and emails are completely worthless.

On February 27, 2003 I learned that my credit card had been charged $89.95 paid to "Essentials CT" on 2/24/03. I use my credit card frequently, but I did not recognize this name so I called the company to verify. I have since discovered that I been charged this same amount to "Essentials CT" without my noticing every year since February 2000. Total charges for four years are $359.80. Shame on me for not noticing.

I have never received any notification form Memberworks that I had been enrolled in a program, nor have I received any goods or services from Memberworks. Memberworks maintains that that my credit card charges serve as notification of my enrollment and continual automatic re-enrollment. Memberworks claims that they received my credit card information from AT&T; Universal Card, but AT&T; card services denies any involvement. I can say with absolute certainty that I never consented to any of these charges.


On a recent Saturday I went to the grocery store to purchase much-needed food supplies for my family of six. I live on an extremly limited budget. After bringing my purchases to the register and having my order rung up the cashier ran my debit card. The cashier informed me that my card was rejected. Knowing that my paycheck had just been deposited, I could not imagine why my card would have rejected. I left the store totally embarrassed and without my groceries and headed stright home to call my bank.

To my horror I discovered a charge for $99.95 against my account. Since I am the only account holder I knew it had to be a mistake. When I called my bank they gave me the name and phone number of the merchant who submitted the charges. I was told the company names was MKS Escapes a.k.a Memberworks Inc. I called MKS and was told that I had made an online purchase for a discount dining membership. I know that I made no such purchase nor did I authorize a purchase to be made on my behalf. I can barely afford groceries, never mind dining out!

I called MKS three times. I first requested a refund for my $99.95 and advised the first customer service rep, Faith, that I did not authorized any purchase. Faith promised me that my account would be credited within three day. I then spoke to another customer service rep named Kena, and requested a confirmation letter so that my bank would be able to waive all the service charges associated with my overdrafts. I was told a letter could not be provided. Lastly I spoke with Christine, a supervisor with MKS and demanded a letter indicating that these charges had been taken from my account in error. Christine told me she could not provide such a letter and advised me that I would need to make a written request to the Customer Relations Department at Memberworks main office in Omaha, NE.

The amount of stress the whole situation has caused is unimaginable. I am not a rich person, in fact I am poor. I pray each week that there will be enough money left over to purchase groceries for my family. Not only did this cause me to be embarrassed in the grocery store but I had no way of feeding my four teenagers for a day and a half until I could get in touch with extended family. I had to swallow my pride and shamefully ask for a handout becasue I was unable to provide for my family. I cried an enitre weekend over this mess. This company has promised a refund but I am not taking their word for it after reading about them on this web site. I am filing a dispute with my bank to recover my loses.

In addition to what has been taken, and the emotional stress both my children and I have suffered, I am now indebited to my family for money they lent for food. This company should be shut down. What they are doing to people is unbelievable. I want to know how they were able to get into my checking account? Worse yet is that I am a victim of fraud and I have been made pay for it through the charges imposed by my bank. My children have been made to pay for it by feeling hunger in their stomachs.


They took $89.00 from my checking account without my permission.

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I was charged yearly membership fees since 1995 for a discount membership program called "Connections" that I NEVER authorized. These people signed me up through my Citibank Visa credit card and has been charging ever since. I have received no information or services from them and when I finally realised what was happening I got the runaround. The 800# the bank gave is bogus.

I called and I had to wait at least 45 minutes only to be told that the systems were down and to call back later. When I tried to get info about the charges and the company the agent hung up on me. This went on for THREE WEEKS and only when I contacted my bank and asked them to sort this matter out for me I was able to talk to an agent from Memberworks. So far I only got back half of what they owe.

This type of "slamming" has to be stopped. I have read other testimonies on other websites about this comapny. They get their agents to target the elderly and new immigrants who can not even speak English. They also use people's debit chequing accounts to withdraw money for the memeberships and people who order through infomercials are even worse off because the agents at Memberworks do not even know what infomercials the so-called members were signed up through and sometimes the agents go so far as to say that if they can't find the members name in their computer the members would have to fax in a statement to their Customer Relations department at the address above to get the matter sorted. But what they don't tell the members is that the fax number area code 402 is invalid. This is a travesty that must be stopped immediately.

As a result of theses charges I have suffered enormous interest fees and late charges from my credit company, not to mention the hours spent on the phone with these people.


This is the second time in three years that Memberworks, a.k.a. Leisure Advantage, has "hit" me -- only this time they threaten to invoice me an unspecified amount ($79.95? $89.95?) if I do not call to cancel my membership. The thing is that nobody ever called me to ask me if I wanted this "service." I would have rejected it on grounds that I would have had to pay for hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise to save the money indicated in their "benefits" book, and that would barely have offset the annual membership fee.

Now I have 30 days to call and cancel my membership in a program I never requested! If I had thrown the solicitation in the trash -- as happens to most junk mail -- I would have been invoiced every year for a service I would have known nothing about. When I first was hit with the "Memberworks Connections" program, (back in 1999) I was astounded to find that with the program (as it was presented then) you can order up to $500 worth of Memberworks funny money, which can only be spent at certain retailers, and this would save you 20% off what you would otherwise spend.

However, the funny money is only redeemable for merchandise, so if you need to spend fractional funny money denominations, forget it -- you may lose all of your discount. Furthermore, how do retailers decide to accept these discount vouchers? Finally, you save nothing, because what you save is offset by that hefty annual membership fee. It is also noteworthy that American Express dropped Memberworks because they "failed to offer sufficient value" for their purported services. Personally, I would like to shut them down under the RICO statute.

I would have been invoiced $79.95 if I did not call them to cancel my membership.


Back in March of this year I ordered some exercise video from Richard Simmons and gave them my credit card number to purchase these videos. In May I was charged $84.00 by some MWI Essentials, a company I had never heard of and had no knowledge about. I contacted my bank and disputed these charges from MWI Essentials and I was credited the $84 back to my account.

Today on Dec. 12, 2001 I checked my checking account balance and I have been charged $149.95 by MWI Essentials. I called the 800 number immediately and spoke with representative Uju #1072 and she informed me that they sent me a packet of information which I never received any such information, and the charge was for my membership. I never knew anything about this company and I had no idea that they were going to charge my credit card with anything.

I am an unemployed separated mother of 2 children on limited income from my to be ex-husband. I do not have this kind of money to pay for these kind of things and the credit card they used was my check card so the money was immmediately taken out of my checking account. It now have $60.00 in insufficient funds tacked on to this $149.95. I am very distressed over this matter and my checking account is now overdrawn by $190.00 due to these people charging my account with my permission.

Well over a year ago, I also was charged the mysterious amount of $84 to MWI Essentials. I was able to get the charge refunded to my credit card with little problem, as I remember. But in August 2000, it happened again, this time with MWI Connections. The charge was for $79. I had opened a Fleet Visa Card, and on my first statement the charge showed up. I called Connections to cancel it, but was unfortunately persuaded to stay on, with the promise of two free airline tickets with my membership! While knowing that they snagged me as a customer in a completely unethical manner, I stupidly agreed.
In the past year I've received membership materials that included a postcard you are to fill out to "receive your free airline vouchers". I waited until just recently to finally complete the card and send it in, as I've been trying to plan a trip to Minneapolis for a wedding in August, and really wanted to use the tickets towards that trip. What I have received from Connections is a packet of materials actually from a company/organization called "Airfare On Us". This seems to be the group that is actually providing the tickets. I am now supposed to fill out a questionnaire giving the place I want to travel to, names of travel companions, etc., and am to fax it to a number in Houston, TX. The travel guide that came with this packet lists nothing but resorts in vacation locales. Needless to say, I didn't find Minneapolis in this guide. So it became obvious that this was really one of those deals where you have to book a hotel through a travel agent (Airfare On Us?) to get the free airline tickets.
I thought it would be best to call and find out the specifics before I took the time to fill it out, and wait for someone to contact me. I just wanted some pretty basic information -- block out dates, restricted cities (even though I suspected I was going to find out what I already knew), etc. It proved to be next to IMPOSSIBLE to contact Airfare On Us, because NOWHERE in the materials is there a phone number. Just the fax number in Houston. So I got creative with that fax number, and was able to figure out the phone number. I called and got a person who answered with "MemberWorks". I did not recognize this company, asked if this was Airfare On Us, and was told no, so I hung up. But then in looking again through all of the membership materials from Connections, I saw the name MemberWorks as the parent company of Connections. So, the office I was faxing my "vacation request" form to, a form that had the company masthead reading 'Airfare On Us' at the top, was the Houston offices of MemberWorks.
It's worth mentioning here that every time I have called Connections and asked their operators about Airfare On Us, asking how I can contact them, I have been met with a "huh?" reaction. No one could give me any information as to how to contact them. At this point, I am furious that it has turned into such a production just to get a few questions answered about the "free service" I'm trying to take advantage of. I had also called back that same Houston MemberWorks office, and the phone rang and rang and rang. On their website (, I found other corporate offices to contact. I called one in Stamford, CT. Several phone calls, voice mail messages, and one rather long and angry email later, and I have finally had a conversation with a real person. I have had my suspicions confirmed, that basically, yes, I am wasting my time hoping to simply get my two airline vouchers. I will have to pay for a stay in a "top notch" resort as a part of that package.
I made the complaint to this person, that this had all been quite misleading to me, that I would never have kept the membership if it weren't for being tempted with what sounded too good to be true. Her explanations of everthing, and how MemberWorks/Connections/Airfare On Us are all connected, were vague and took way too much effort to try and follow. I told her to cancel my membership, and as far as I know, she has done that. I will just have to wait and see if my credit card statement actually shows a refund. I will add also that I have called Fleet Credit Card Services and asked, out of curiosity, how this whole thing happens. How did Connections get authorization from me to charge my account their membership fee? The best explanation from Fleet is this: All of the credit card companies are solicited by MWI Connections.
I haven't really figured out how it benefits the credit card companies, but they agree to let Connections (or Essentials) solicit their cardholders for business. This is done simply through the credit card companies VOICE MAIL systems. When you initially call Fleet (or MBNA, or First Card, etc.) to activate your card, you supposedly hear a very clear message asking whether you want to accept membership into Connections. Simply by pressing your touch-tone phone and answering YES, you give your "authorization" for the charge to go through. I questioned this with Fleet: I'm quite sure that if the message were truly that clear, and actually stated that "your card will be charged $74 if you answer yes", I would have answered NO. Fleet said that most customers are so used to navigating through voice mail systems, they don't really pay attention, and quickly press buttons to get them where they want to go. It's easy to see how so many people inadvertently approve the charge.
I have asked Fleet if I can listen to that recording. I'm told that simply by calling the main 1-800 number I should be able to hear it. I have told them that this just isn't so - I don't recall ever hearing the solicitation message in the year of having my Fleet card, and I call Customer Service a lot. All I can figure is that this message must exist on the card activation line. The rep I spoke to was quite sympathetic, agreed that this whole things smacks of bad business, but explained that the message is really quite clear on the voice mail system. I have a really hard time believing this.

Out of all this, the thing can do to warn potential victims of this scheme, is to tell people to pay really close attention to the voice mail recording the first time they call their credit card company, or bank, to activate their card.


I made a transfer into my bank account on the second of this month (February 2001) and when I did so I noticed a transaction of $84 on the debit card. I was unable to verify the activity with my wife and planned on doing so later that day. She didn't recall purchasing anything from such a company and in fact we do virtually no Internet purchasing for security reasons. Then I read your today and the article on the $84 and MWI connected the dots that were linked to my bank account!

I have now (three days after the incident) closed my bank card account and called the numbers listed on the web site. No response. The website boasts that it is a member of Verisign and TRUSTe. I have sent a complaint to TRUSTe but do not know how to find a way to send a complaint to Verisign. We are a family of five living with limited income and recently received some funds just in time to help get caught up on bills and this company has jepordized out finances and actually caused bank charges. The stress that every dollar has on tis family makes decisions as how often someone in our family gets to buy lunch at school or takes a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich!


Got a bill on Discover card for $72 from company I've never heard of. Attempted to contact company and got a voice message saying they were having computer problems and were unable to access account information.

Called Discover and they apparently were aware of the problem. Customer service rep put me on hold, then came back and said it would be taken off our bill. Apparently it had something to do with a purchase my wife made from the Richard Simmons website, where they sign you up for these "services" when you order.

MemberWorks (MWI) Company Profile

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MemberWorks (MWI)