Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Carmel on the Case: Internet Company Problems
Tonight complaints are flying coast to coast over a company that used to be based in Hollywood. The company was promising big profits from computer kiosks offering internet access. But investors claim they were mislead and got less than they paid for. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
(WSVN) Donald Garcia is about to unveil a $26,000 dollar investment that is being kept under tarps in a garage.
The two computer kiosks represent a failed investment that has left him and wife victoria with only $120 dollars in the bank.
Donald Garcia: We're on the verge of bankruptcy.
Victoria Garcia: "Yeah."
Donald Garcia: "It's cost us every penny we had."
The Garcias did business with nationwide cyber systems after seeing a late night infomercial about the computer kiosks.
For 25 cents a minute, Nationwide Cyber Systems said its machines would offer consumers internet access, video e-mail - even phone cards.
Ncs promised investors prime locations for the public internet terminals.
But the garcia's say their machines - which the company placed in two small hotels - never made the kind of money they expected.
Carmel Cafiero: And what did you make?
Donald Garcia: $70 dollars, $10 dollars.
Carmel Cafiero: "Every month?
Donald Garcia: No some months we didn't make anything."
Victoria Garcia: "Some months we didn't make anything."
The Garcias are not alone.
Other investors - like the owner of this broken kiosk in a broward hotel - believe natiowide cyber systems did not deliver what it promised.
Brodie White: "We have 90 complaints on file at this time."
Brodie white President of the Better Business Bureau says his colleagues went undercover to investigate nationwide cyber systems.
The bbb compared promises by the company and the fine print of the contracts.
Brodie White: "The company misrepresents its program upfront verbally. Verbal promises are not worth the paper they're not written on bottom line."
Complaints are also being logged in on the Internet.
The consumer website the rip off report has forty four - From coast to coast.
New York Victim: "Over a year later we're still waiting for our terminal to be placed."
Washington victim: "We're out $32,000 dollars."
California Victim: "They won't return phone calls. They won't return e-mails."
Frank Hollander: "They promised excellent customer service and support after the sale and that was totally false."
Attorney Frank Hollander represents still more - unhappy investors.
He has filed a lawsuit that accuses nationwide cyber systems, officers and employees with everything from deceptive and unfair trade practices to fraud.
Frank Hollander: "These people did guarantee you would get your money back if you requested it. Carmel Cafiero: Did they give it back? Frank Hollander: They absolutely did not."
So what does nationwide cyber systems think about all this?
We don't know. The office is empty. And we haven't been able to reach paul pemberton...Nationwide's vice president who participated in the company's promotional videos.
A fax to Pemberton's Weston home didn't generate a response either and his lawyer didn't return calls.
The garcia's meanwhile say - they can't afford to hire an attorney but are convinced they have been mislead.
Vivian Garcia: "They would talk the paint off the wall - they were so smooth."
Seven News has learned there is now a criminal investigation of what went on here. The State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - which has 93 open complaints - has opened a criminal investigation of Nationwide Cyber Systems. It is looking at possible violations of Florida's Business Opportunity Law.
For more information, or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE