'Rip-off' discount service targets seniors

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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Related articles:
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/finance/news/advice-could-solve-pension-problems
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/health/wellbeing/who-has-the-highest-life-satisfaction
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/finance/news/australia-embraces-online-shopping

Written by Ben

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