Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Carmel on the Case: Kiosk Controversy
Tonight more on a continuing seven news investigation of South Florida companies that sell Internet kiosks as a business opportunity. These kinds of offers are becoming a major national problem. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is "On The Case" and has tracked down a central figure in this local kiosk controversy.
(WSVN) -- A lot of people would like to talk with paul pemberton.
They think he misled them and they haven't been able to find him since his Hollywood company closed.
Paul Pemberton: "Well ma'am, I tell you I'm not supposed to have a lot of comment."
Pemberton and a brother operated Nationwide Cyber Systems - a company that sold Internet kiosks it claimed were real money makers.
Paul Pemberton: "This is the most exciting business opportunity of the 21st century."
A promotional video outlined the offer, buy one of their machines and charge 25 cents a minute for Internet access and sell phone cards and other services.
The company promised prime locations. But that golden opportunity tarnished for some people, when the $15,000 dollar machines didn't work or didn't make money.
Donald Garcia: "I anticipated a revenue in the beginning of at least $400 dollars a month.
Carmel Cafiero: "And what did you make?"
Donald Garcia: "$70 dollars."
Donald and Vivian Garcia say some months they made only ten dollars - much less than the cost to keep the kiosks up and running.
So the machines sit in a garage. And since our last report, we have heard from other pemberton customers with the same kinds of complaints.
Carmel Cafiero: "What do you say to people who say you mislead them about the amount of money these machines can make?"
Paul Pemberton: "Uh ma'am I really don't have any comment about people being mislead or not being mislead."
Pemberton's company isn't the only one selling the machines or racking up complaints from unhappy investors.
The Federal Trade Commission has filed actions against multiple companies in multiple states.
The FTC warns Internet kiosk business opportunities can be "flop-portunities."
It suggests, among other things, that would be investors: Interview each previous purchaser in person, and check consumer agenices for outstanding complaints.
The Better Business Bureau, for example, has 90 complaints about Nationwide Cyber Systems.
"80 of those complaints - 60 of those complaints were, were resolved or, or addressed and delt with."
Pemberton has more to deal with than customer complaints.
The state has opened a criminal investigation into what happened to his company and his customers.
Meanwhile, Pemberton is still in the Internet kiosk business. We caught up with him on his way into the office of transnet wireless.
Paul Pemberton: "I'm a salesperson at this company. I have no affiliation with the ownership whatsoever."
Pemberton says Nationwide Cyber Systems does have satisfied customers. I'm still waiting for him to put me in touch with one of them. Give me a call or send an e-mail if there's something you think we should investigate. I'll be back each week with another case.
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