Metro Care Marketing Services claims another victim
For the past week, my girlfriend and I realized that METRO CARE MARKETING SERVICES has been a staple in our universe of existence. We have met a number of people who have been victimized by the same company and one those people turns out to be very much close with my girlfriend. She’s a good friend of my girlfriend from college and let’s call her Sofia.
Sofia works for a bank. YES, she works for a bank and this same bank is her credit card provider and truth be told, she was still deceived by a dirty and cunning METRO CARE MARKETING SERVICES call center agent.
Sofia furnished for us an account of how METRO CARE MARKETING SERVICES was able to fool her.
Last June 2, a guy named MIKE GOMEZ of METRO CARE called me. He started the conversation by confirming a couple of details about me (e.g. name, etc.). He also told me that our conversation is recorded. Then he told me that, because of my good credit standing, my bank recommended me to them to avail of their privilege card. This will give me 60% discount on bars, airlines, and every mall in the Philippines. Normally, if I will call them to avail of the privilege card, I have to pay P16,000. But since they called me, they will only charge me P3,000, which is payable in 24 months.
I already sensed that this is too good to be true, but for some reason, I took the bait and gave them the numbers found at the front and back of my credit card :’c What bothered me is that he knew the first 4 digits of my credit card and the identification number, and then made me finish dictating the numbers. It seemed like he knew the numbers all along and just wants me to confirm the numbers. He then gave me his office landline (since I have to contact him first to get discounts from airlines) and office address. He also told me that the package will be coming from Singapore so the package will arrive after 5-10 working days. Then, his female officer welcomed me and congratulated me for joining them. She talked soooo fast, leaving me no chance to butt in. The phone was then immediately transferred back to Mike Gomez.
As we were about to end the conversation, I told Mike ‘sir wait lang, ayoko na lang po pala i-avail ‘yung discount card nyo.’ Then he said ‘bakit naman? sayang naman ‘yun…’ and he again told me the perks of their card. Sabi ko na lang ‘sige na nga’ just so he won’t waste any more of my time.
Bigla akong kinabahan when I put the phone down. I dialled the landline number he gave me but it was always busy or unavailable!! I got so scared. We looked for them in the directory but they’re not there. I immediately called my bank’s hotline, told a summary of what happened and found out that there is already a floating P3,000 transaction from Metrocare! I asked the agent if they could cancel the transaction but they can’t since the transaction happened between me and Metrocare. Labas na ang banks doon. He suggested that I block my credit card instead, but this will still not guarantee me that I have evaded the charge. I told him I’ll try to call Metrocare first, and then call the hotline again once I’ve decided to block my credit card (which would cost me P400, huhu).
I still couldn’t get hold of Mike Gomez so I ended up calling my bank’s hotline again and blocked my card.
Nakakahiya pero umiyak talaga ako sa officemates ko. I pitied myself for being so helpless and stupid. Word spread out that I was crying and the next thing I know, alam na ng buong wing namin kung ano ang nangyari. Good thing I am working for a bank. I am veeeeeery lucky because one of the officers know someone from the credit cards group. I was then advised that I wait for the package to be delivered. Upon the arrival of the package, I am to NOT ACCEPT IT and NOT SIGN ANYTHING. He also told me that it is still likely that Metrocare will charge me P3,000 since, if I understand it correctly, they billed me via BDO (I don’t know what this means). Anyway, since BDO recognizes them as a legit company, we will also recognize Metrocare legit. If ever I will still be billed, I was advised to FILE A LETTER OF DISPUTE. He also encouraged me to try to contact the firm again and tell them to cancel the transaction.
Meanwhile, my boss went online and saw a lot of blogs about this scam. An officemate also got hold of another contact number of Metrocare through one of the bank’s department. The department also mentioned MONIQUE APACIBLE. From what my officemate understood, Monique is the head Metrocare’s consultants.
We called the number and I was finally able to talk to Mike Gomez again. I told him that I really want to cancel the transaction. Medyo nagtataray na ako. The conversation went something like this:
MIKE:’naku. bakit naman ma’am?’
AKO: hindi ko rin kasi magagamit talaga ‘yung card niyo e. sayang lang.
MIKE: …sige punta ako sa processing department namin, which is nasa……… 8th floor. tignan ko kung mahahabol ko pa.’
Then the line suddenly went busy.
I called him again. This time, I used the phone number Mike gave me and it worked.
Ako: nagbusy yung line.
Mike: …ah nagbusy ba? ……..naputol ka kasi e… wireless kasi itong gamit ko…
Ako: Ibababa ba dapat yung fone?? ano ba, tatawag na lang ba ulit ako o maghihintay ako sa line?
Mike: tawag na lang po ulit kayo mam.
Ako: sige, gano katagal?
Mike (seemed to be stalling): well, pwede kong hintayin yung elevator… kung masyadong matagal pwede akong mag stairs…
Ako (cutting him): so I’ll call you in 5-10 mins.
Mike: sige mam. …mam gawin nyo nang 20 mins.
I called him after 10mins but the person who answered the phone said Mike was still in the processing department. Later, we got hold of WARREN LEGAZPI from Metrocare’s processing department called me. Medyo inaway-away pa siya ng mga officemate ko, telling him there’s no way they can’t cancel the transaction. Warren insisted on talking to me so they gave me the phone.
WARREN: Ma’am Sofia, I understand your officemate is concerned for you noh. …I know you’ve already talked to MIKE VILLANUEVA
Ako (cutting Warren): Villanueva??? Ang sabi niya sakin Mike Gomez siya.
WARREN: (pauses) … opo Mam. Mike Villanueva-Gomez
–what the. Hindi ba babae lang ang pwedeng magkaroon ng ganyang surname??–
WARREN: bakit niyo po ba gusto ipa-cancel yung transaction?
AKO: I realized I don’t need it. Hindi ko siya magagamit talaga. At nakita ko P3,000 kaagad yung floating charge sa akin. Hindi ba payable dapat yun in 24 months??
WARREN: yes mam. (then explains something na magiging payable in 24 months un..) Hindi na po kasi natin maccancel yung transaction kasi naka-package po yun.
–I didn’t understand the connection of the package to the cancellation of the transaction. Anyway,–
AKO: so pagdating dito ng package, hindi ko na lang siya irreceive.
WARREN: kelangan niyo po sha ireceive para maging staggard (staggered? Hehe) yung payment.
AKO: …sige, tatawag na lang ulit ako.
WARREN: sige mam, if u want mag usap muna kayo ng officemate nyo. I’ll be expecting a call from u tomorrow.
AKO: I’ll call u later.
WARREN: sige po. pero next shift na.
AKO: Ok, bye.
I didn’t call them again, thinking that talking to them over the phone won’t get me anywhere.
Then came Friday, June 4,2010. The package from Metrocare came! Ang bilis a! I asked an officemate and an officer to accompany me to the messenger.
OFFICER: employee po kayo ng metrocare?
MESSENGER: hindi mam. messenger lang.
OFFICER: kasi pinacancel na namin ito e. ibalik mo na lang sa kanila.
MESSENGER: a nagkausap na kayo? so balik ko na lang? cge po.
AKO: opo, nung isang araw ko pa yan pinapacancel.
MESSENGER: ah sige.
looking at me, the messenger said. Kayo po si Ms. Sofia?
Ako: Opo. Ako po.
MESSENGER: Ah, akala ko siya e. (pointing to the officer)
…That’s my experience so far and they still haven’t cancelled the P3,000 charged sa credit card ko.
June 8, 2010
I checked my credit card balance online before lunch time and saw that the floating P3,000 from Metrocare was gone. I couldn’t believe it! again, a too-good-to-be-true scenario. Past lunch time, I called our hotline and confirmed if the floating P3,000 is gone. The agent told me that she wasn’t able to see any floating P3,000 in my account. It was quite weird, actually, because she sounded like the floating transaction didn’t even happen. She also told me that Metrocare probably didn’t settle the transaction; thus, the floating P3,000 disappeared. I was soooooo relieved and thought that I had ‘won the battle’.
Then, at around 4:15pm, WARREN LEGAZPI of METROCARE called. our conversation went something like this:
WARREN: Mam Sofia, ano po nangyari sa package niyo?
AKO: ewan ko
WARREN: hindi niyo po ni-receive
WARREN: Mam, for sure alam niyo na may floating P5,850 pa rin kayo sa account niyo.
AKO: teka. P5,850??? hindi ba ang usapan ay P3,000 lang??
WARREN: ay oo nga pala, sorry mam. P3k lang nga pala sa inyo. Anyway Ma’am, kung gusto niyong mawala yung floating P3k sa account niyo, pwede kayong magbayad ng cancellation fee.
AKO: cancellation fee???? at bakit ako magbabayad???
WARREN: kasi mam nakapangalan na po sa inyo yung package. (he also said something like my bank also approved the identification number…?? can’t really remember). dapat mam binasa niyo yung papers na kasama sa package.
AKO: e sinabi ko nga kay Mike na gusto ko ipacancel yung transaction e. Tinawagan ko ulit siya, wala pang 1hr ang nakakalipas tapos may package na agad. ambilis naman. I’ve done some research and i read na ‘yung iba, wala namang binabayaran na cancellation fee.
WARREN: may instances mam na hindi kami nagpapabayad ng cancellation fee. case-to-case basis po ‘yun.
AKO: haay nakooooooo
WARREN: if u want mam, pwede kayong gumawa ng cancellation letter. ikwento niyo dun kung ano yung case nung sa inyo ni Mike Gomez. It would depend po on your reason why you want to cancel the transaction. Tapos titignan po namin kung sino yung may diperensya. Kung kayo po yung may diperensya, kelangan niyo magbayad ng cancellation fee.
AKO: e pano kung ang reason ko ay gusto ko lang ipacancel yung transaction? dahil na-realize kong hindi ko kailangan ng card niyo?
WARREN: edi isulat niyo po dun.
I ended up getting his fax number, but I don’t think I’ll be giving them a cancellation letter..
Ang mali ko dito ay hindi ko sinabing ‘e pwede palang i-cancel ‘yung transaction. Ang sabi niyo sa akin nung June 2 ay hindi na ‘yun pwedeng ma-cancel’
Ang labo nila ‘di ba? very inconsistent!!
You may say that Sofia is a bank employee and you may assume that she’s supposed to know scams about money and stuff but she, too, took the bait.
What does this incident tell us? That our banks are lax about keeping our credit card information confidential? Take Sofia, she already works for her bank but still METRO CARE MARKETING SERVICES was able to take hold of her credit card information. And the irony about it all is that even her employer’s credit department cannot do anything to cancel the transaction even though they already know that she does not want the transaction.
This issue with Sofia boils down to security and affiliation. She works for a bank that also happens to be her credit card provider. And the irony of it is that they cannot save her. But we must disregard these facts because we already know all too well that banks only operate in a set of rules that they are bound to.
After a month of analysis and introspection, I have come to realize is that in order to capture the monster, we have to set up more traps, strengthen our fortress and fill our armory with enough ammunition to kill anything that moves. What I’m driving at is that aside from being wary and alert for scammers, we also need to set up the right kind of protection from such threats. What we need in order to close down METRO CARE MARKETING SERVICES is not only to file protest and dispute cased to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) but also to strengthen the laws that govern and implement such transactions.
Filing cases is not enough to permanently close down METRO CARE MARKETING SERVICES. At the moment, they are free to do whatever kind of deception and thievery they can do because they are permitted to. When caught, they can change their company’s name and do their same modus operandi again.
At this time, what we need is putting more teeth to the law. We should not only be filing cases against METRO CARE MARKETING SERVICES to the DTI, the trade department should also file laws and administrative rules that can sanction erring corporations.
What we can also do is to contact our newly elected congressmen and have them do something about this.
If you have also been victimized like us, help us. If you know somebody or anything that can help, please do reach out to us. We need all the help we can get.