Consumer group finds discount service for seniors is a rip-off

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Consumer group CHOICE has confirmed what the YourLifeChoices community discovered back in October, that the Senior Advantage discount program delivers “no unique value” and is best avoided.

On the Meeting Place, member Peter Seaford asked if anybody had had any experience with the program and the YLC community swung into investigation mode, coming up with some disturbing findings.

RL responded: “The most useful ones would be supermarket specials but there are no specials. It just copies the weekly specials given by the supermarkets.”

Older&wiser dug even deeper into what the company was about: “Research and REALLY read their terms. I personally feel it is all a scam, and not anything to do with Australia. One of their conditions states – ‘all prices and services shall be displayed in USD currency’. Clause 12.3 clearly states [the] company is based in Lithuania, and if you need to contact them, you do it to that address. I wouldn’t touch it.”

The CHOICE investigation confirmed on Wednesday exactly what our members discovered about the program, that it charges customers to access ‘discounts’ that are already publicly available to everyone.

CHOICE investigator Andy Kollmorgen explained that older Australians should be wary of what the watchdog has labelled a “rip-off discount service” and other online tricks that are heavily marketed online.

“As part of our investigation we signed up to this service and found that the company made big claims but delivered no unique value,” Mr Kollmorgen said.

“When we tried to claim deals from Senior Advantage, we were taken directly to publicly available deals like the half-price specials pages for major supermarkets.”

Senior Advantage promises “member-only access to thousands of ways to save at popular stores, restaurants and service providers” but CHOICE found a number of offerings under the ‘membership’ were publicly available for free and others that were not relevant.

The website also claims: ‘This is the most comprehensive savings program available with current average active member savings of more than $1500 per year’.

The CHOICE investigation found these claims highly dubious.

“Senior Advantage appears to be a lazy cash grab, essentially re-badging discounts already available for free,” Mr Kollmorgen said.

“They take advantage of senior Australians with big promises, drip pricing and lazy, cheap content of little value.”

YourLifeChoices contacted Senior Advantage for an explanation of the offers on its website, but did not receive a response.

The CHOICE investigation also confirmed Older&wiser’s discovery that the company appears to be based in Lithuania and may attempt to funnel disputes through the Lithuanian legal system, which is in contravention of Australian Consumer Law.

Dr Torgeir Aleti, a lecturer in marketing at RMIT, told CHOICE that Senior Advantage was an example of a business that was “getting more creative in deceiving consumers online”.

“Typically, these schemes are set up around popular Google search terms, ‘discounts for seniors’ being an example of a popular search term,” Dr Aleti said.

“Aggressive search-engine marketing is then employed to feature favourably in Google search results. Tactics here may include link-building via review sites by writing fake reviews as well as using blogs, social media or other websites.

“From a website alone, it’s often very hard to figure out where the business is actually from and exactly who’s behind it. And it’s easy to hide that information from consumers,” he said.

“I can only speculate, but there’s nothing to suggest that the culprits are actually in Australia, but they’re working through someone that develops software in Lithuania because it will be much cheaper. There could be a very complicated layer of companies involved in this. Often the best you can do is put companies like this on some sort of scam list.”

If you have signed up for the Senior Advantage program, CHOICE advises that you should demand a refund.

“A number of members of the CHOICE community have received refunds from Senior Advantage,” said Mr Kollmorgen.

Read the full results from the CHOICE investigation.

Have you seen the ads to join Senior Advantage on your social media channels? Have you joined this program? Have you successfully claimed a refund?

NOTE TO MEMBERS: YourLifeChoices has previously requested Senior Advantage advertisements no longer appear on our site, but they continue to pop up from time to time. We have limited control over these ads and are endeavouring to prevent them from reappearing unless the company is able to prove its legitimacy.

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Written by Ben

23 Comments

Total Comments: 23
  1. 2
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    Kind of expect your masthead to “prove [Senior Advantage’s] legitmacy [sic]” before accepting advertising from them.

    Why is it that they “continue to pop up from time to time” on your site?

    Is it good enough that you have no control over what appears under your masthead?

    Suggest, strongly, you very quickly review your advertising algorithms or have the company running and using them do so.

    Otherwise the reputation of your masthead may end up the same as Choice Investigations suggests your advertiser’s business model was to ‘deceive consumers online’

  2. 1
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    Yes I saw this product advertised on a link from your lifechoices actually just today & thinking it was legitimate signed up …. I came to the same conclusions that this article came to unfortunately !!after looking @ what was actually offered which you couldn’t see unless you signed up…. very slick & seemly legitimate advertising-tried to stop the payment on my credit card but to late $89 had already bean taken….. I have written email cancelling & they have said they have cancelled but I think I will be waiting a long time for reimbursement …. hope my head doesn’t ache till then!
    I am very suprised that lifechoices cannot close these ads down & stop them from appearing on your site….. because it does give these shonks legitimacy…. I am not easily sucked in but fear I have been this time…. $89 would have bought a lot of groceries!!

  3. 0
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    My very wise grandfather offered this one piece of advice to me just before he passed away – I was 10 at the time and he said “Son, if it looks too good to be true it probably is!” If the word “scam” had been invented at that stage way back then he probably would have used it too. I looked at this so called discount scheme and decided that it screamed scam in flashing red lights – too hot and blatant to touch. Still, somebody who wants something for less than it is worth is born every second around the world and so scams like this continue to proliferate and continue to drag in gullible consumers by the thousands or sometimes, millions. “Your Life Choices” should be ashamed of themselves for facilitating such as obvious scam!

  4. 0
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    I am not so sure YLC have any real control over advertising that may appear when you are on the YLC site. I suspect the actual culprit is who ever you use to access the internet, ie Google, Yahoo, Telstra, Optus etc. I suspect this, as when I do a search for an item, for instance ink cartridges for my printer, I am constantly bombarded for adverts for ink cartridges, even when I am looking at Youtube, YLC, webmail etc. YLC may have some control but not total control.

  5. 0
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    Well that is great. I signed up with Senior Advantage two days ago, because it came up when I clicked on Your Life Choices, which I assumed you endorsed. There goes $95.00 for nothing. Terrific.

  6. 0
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    I signed up too but picked up the ‘options’. $306 in total! First clue was when my cc showed foreign fees. One look at the site revealed it was as the article says. I wrote for a refund 2 days later, they offered 50% off, I refused and insisted on full refund. They say they have processed the refund but can take up to 14 days to appear. Guess I have to wait and see.

  7. 0
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    My goodness after all the warnings on the news and newspapers about how much Australians are being scammed from robo phone calls on mobiles and home phone lines.

    People are still looking for stuff that is too good to be true….and paying for it…

    By the way I have a unique new way of hanging clothes on a clothes line please send $50 by way of money order, itunes, or gift card to PO BOX SCAM….. and I will send you a new design clothes peg….in the mail…………..Gosh almighty

  8. 0
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    I agree, if it looks too good, you can bet your last $1 on it, its a scam! And #@%#[email protected]$ Google is the one that now virtually controls ALL on line advertising in the WORLD!! and there is precious little anyone can do about the system at present, including Your Life Choices..I also read The Washington Post and read about the US Congress and Senate investigating these online companies with their predatory practices in trying to gain total control of the internet. But as usual, don’t hold your breath thinking a Senate inquiry will get anywhere!

  9. 0
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    something I have noticed too is when you see a product advertised in eBay, MyDeal, Wish, Amazons, etc. the item you want to buy have a price in the advertising search and when you want to buy the product the prices changes to a more expensive item, this is a deception with the intention to gain, the Government should do something about it. However I do consider another scam done by this companies.

  10. 0
    0

    If uou’ve been caught. Notify your bank & they can put a stop on your card. It takes several days B4 it is sent overseas by your bank.

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