KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In a few weeks Markie McClendon and her family are saying good-bye to Kansas City. They've sold their home and started the search for a new one in their soon-to-be-new hometown of Denton, Texas.
It was that house search that led McClendon to a website she now wishes she'd never seen.
The website is www.americanstandardonline.com. McClendon said a company employee told her that for $199 she could have an exclusive list of soon-to-to-be foreclosed homes that could be purchased far below market rate.
"You are supposed to be able just to go in and take possession of the property and take over the payments," McClendon said she was told.
Eager to find a home at a good price, McClendon paid for the service with her debit card. In return, the website sent her dozens of listings in Denton, Texas. McClendon asked her husband, who is already living and working in Denton, to start checking out the homes.
That's when the McClendons quickly discovered their $199 list was worthless. Some of the addresses didn't exist. Others existed, but the owners were not facing foreclosure and were definitely not interested in selling.
"One lady said she'd been in her home for three years and it wasn't in foreclosure," McClendon said. "She told my husband that he was the third person who'd come to her door. She told us the company we were using is a scam"
McClendon started doing some digging and found hundreds of complaints against American Standard. The Better Business Bureau has given the company an F rating after it failed to respond to more than 300 complaints. The BBB also points out that American Standard Online has operated under more than a dozen names.
FOX 4 Problem Solvers showed the sales pitch and a list of website properties to real estate agent and foreclosure expert Dean Rosenberg. He said the company clearly doesn't pass the smell test.
For starters, pre-foreclosed properties are typically never part of the public record, although that's what American Standard Online told us when we asked how they got the listings.
Rosenberg said the only public information would be homes already in foreclosure and that information is free and available from any realtor.
When The FOX 4 Problem Solvers called American Standard Online to get its side of this dispute, the customer service representative told us she couldn't talk to reporters and would have to get a supervisor. However, a few minutes later we were told no supervisor was available and someone would have to call us back.
Concerned that no one would, we kept trying to get information about American Standard Online from the customer service agent. We asked her the name of the manager and whether the company was really based in Montecito, California, like its website claims.
She told us that she didn't have the authority to answer. Several days later, we still don't have an answer because no supervisor ever returned our calls.
To help McClendon recoup her $199, we suggested she file a dispute with the bank that issues her debit card. That's when McClendon discovered American Standard Online had charged her debit card multiple times. The first time was for the $199 that she knew she was paying, but there were multiple subsequent charges a few weeks later for 99 cents each. McClendon has now cancelled her debit card and her bank has temporarily restored all her money while it looks into her dispute.
The FOX 4 Problem Solvers are disappointed with any company that doesn't deliver on its promises and then fails to even try and offer a defense, which is why American Standard Online is now an official member of the FOX 4 Problem Solver Hall of Shame.