This question is coming across our desks more frequently than even before. Whether it’s the day and age we live in that’s contributing to a general feeling of discontent or the fact that many organizations are failing under the weight of honoring their commitments, the fallout is a reality with which we must contend.
In this instance, we regretfully must encourage people to carefully weigh the options of signing up for legal plans if only because we’re hearing so many complaints about the few that are out there — not a good sign.
Even people that have had memberships for extended periods of time state that they’re unlikely or unwilling to continue because the firms simply do not perform as advertised.
Just a few of the complaints we’ve encountered involve blatant deviations from the ‘plans’ people intended to purchase:
- No callbacks in the allotted [advertised] timeframe;
- Consultations advertised as free were charged to the subscriber before any assistance would even be provided [i.e. the consultations were absolutely not free];
- Subscribers complained treated rudely or with contempt;
- Although subscribers were promised that they would receive referrals, some were refused the opportunity to receive even a referral;
- Critical timelines were routinely missed or disregarded;
- Specific areas of law where clients were promised representation were cancelled upon the subscriber’s request for assistance;
- Lawyers are often newly employed, virtually retired, or compromised in their knowledge base of specific areas of law. For this reason, the ‘subscriber’ is unable to get the assistance they need;
- Elderly subscribers found their subscriptions were cancelled when they attempted to utilize the service.
Unfortunately, we’re hearing some real horror stories about poor, obnoxious or worse — incompetent — attorneys whose would-be assistance has actually put the consumer in an even more difficult spot than the subscriber was in prior to the attorney’s involvement.
Our recommendation is to utilize the ‘Buyer Beware’ method of first ‘vetting’ the company by checking them out via reviews online. There is a tool you can use [find that near the end of this article] to ascertain whether or not only ‘real reviews’ are showing up and not the fraudulent ones frequently utilized by companies that are not performing adequately and, therefore, are relying on purchased reviews [or completely phony ones] to boost their company’s online reputations.
Most of these firms offer a month-to-month subscription option you can quit if you discover you don’t use them or don’t like their approach.
DO NOT ASSUME everything they tell you is factual. A common sales ploy is to promise the consumer far more than the actual agreement covers. Believe no one but, instead, check them out for yourself even if you present a ‘potential’ problem to them for evaluation.
See if they assist you, if their responses are timely, if their strategies make sense and whether or not they treat you in a timely and professional manner. Most advertise you can consult a second attorney at their firm under your membership if you do not want to stop with the advice of the first. The option of speaking to the second attorney should be handled both graciously and in a timely manner.
If the answer to any of these issues turns out to be a ‘no’, save your money and contact a ‘regular’ attorney for assistance when the need arises. We routinely provide recommendations for legal representation for virtually every budget.
Another consideration: since these companies rely on ‘upselling’ the consumer, it’s common for people to have multiple memberships for years costing them thousands of dollars only to discover when they need their membership to work for them the company walks back on their promises and leaves the consumer to fend for themselves.
Again, this is not that usual of a story and the consumer should not blame themselves for being treated so disrespectfully.
It pays to try your service on a relatively regular basis to see how you’re treated. If anything is amiss, drop out before you waste any more of your funds on an essentially worthless subscription.
One more thing to consider is that you can RENEW your subscription when you have a problem and save yourself a small fortune by doing so. Don’t subscribe and count on their assistance when the chips are down: they’re quite unlikely to come through for you.
Those who are engaging in this level of misrepresentation and failure to honor their commitments will soon find themselves facing a class action brought by their own subscribers because this issue is extremely widespread, and the pool of subscription legal providers is so small it’s essentially impossible for them to avoid detection for long.
The worst ones are well known for their failings — but no one inside the organization is going to voice their concerns publicly if only because they’re ‘invested’ in the ruse.
Typically, these programs utilize Multi Level Marketing [MLM] strategies and programs — this generally means they enlist their subscribers to market their subscription based programs for them.
We strongly encourage people to avoid getting caught up in this practice as there is virtually no assistance for the buyer nor the seller [that would be you in this instance] to provide to your subscriber and, thus, both of you are in the untenable situation of having been scammed.
There are good companies in the world with which you can do business and even earn a decent income. Sadly, these legal subscription companies are rarely among them.
If you think you’re already caught up in dealing with one of these companies or need further assistance in researching this topic, we are glad to help. If you don’t know how to do this or are not in a position to do so, call us toll free at 855/997-7770.