BBB complaints against Steve Brown’s companies

The below article talks about the increase in complaints lodged with the Better Business Bureau during the 1991 recession, using Steve Brown’s company Direct Marketing Enterprises as a prominent example.

Recession spurs jump in financial fraud

By Robert McNatt
Crain’s New York Business

New York’s long-running recession has made the city’s cash-strapped denizens hungrier than ever for businesses that will help them deal with their money problems.

But in searching for such business, New Yorkers are increasingly meeting rip-off artists, liars and shady operators. According to a recently released survey by the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York. Inc., inquiries regarding financial service companies in 1991 jumped fivefold.

Some 14,000 consumers called about businesses promising to find forgotten assets, make loans, repair credit histories, or consolidate debts. Meanwhile, actual complaints jumped 50% over the year before, and will probably keep rising.

”The number of inquiries is reflective of what’s going on out there,” says Barbara B. Opotowsky, president of BBB. ”It’s like an early warning system.”

Last year 1,421 people lodged complaints against Direct Marketing Enterprises, the Westbury, L.I.-based company behind Cheeselovers International and the National Historic Mint, among others. That’s 400 fewer complaints than 1990, but still more than any other company the bureau tracks.

In January, DME settled a five-year-old lawsuit with the New York state attorney general. DME, while admitting no guilt, agreed to changes in advertising, complaint resolution and its refund procedures. It also paid the state $175,000 in investigation costs.

The four other leading companies in terms of complaints were also mail-order companies, selling everything from Richard Simmons Deal A Meal, a diet program, to Didi 7, a stain remover.

Copyright 1992
Crain Communications, Inc.
Crain’s New York Business
March 16, 1992 – March 22, 1992
SECTION: Pg. 3
LENGTH: 925 words

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