Friday, September 05, 2008

Beware of that Variable Universal Life (VUL) Insurance policy from Ameriprise

Companies like Ameriprise and RiverSource are very eager to have you sign up for a VUL policy. Why? Because they're very expensive in regards to fees and cost of insurance (COI) and this generates tremendus profits for both Ameriprise and RiverSource. This way they can have offices on the top floor of the most expensive building in every major city. So what happens when you take out a policy and in a short time after only making a few premium payments you die? In the case of Ameriprise, they just refuse to pay the claim and then you're heirs are forced to take them to court. In the case of Linda McCartney, she took out a policy and only made 4 schedule payments and in the 4 months she owned the policy she dies in a car wreck. Ameriprise isn't happy about this since they took in about 1600 dollars and now they owe 500,000 dollars so they just ignore the claim. Now, Linda's heirs have to file a lawsuit to get what's owed to them.

Beware of these policies from Ameriprise.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ameriprise is a form of an advanced fee scam

I was reading on the Amexsux forum and someone suggested that Ameriprise is a form of an advanced fee scam. IMO, I agree. The way an advanced fee scam works is that someone charges you a relatively small amount in the hopes that they can gain your confidence so they can get more money out of you in the future. This is exactly how Ameriprise operates. They charge you a small amount for the "financial plan" to gain your confidence. Once they gain your confidence, they recommend proprietary products that increase their profits in the way of high loads and fees. I recommend you stay away from Ameriprise.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Politicians and Prostitutes

This year is shaping up to be "hookergate" with high ranking officials paying for "companion" services. First of all, unless you're living under a rock, you have heard Eliot Spitzer was just taken down by a prostitute who went by the name of "Kristen". Now, there's a new high ranking official caught in the "hookergate" net. His name is Edward Nottingham and he's the Chief Judge of the 10th Federal District Court in Denver, Colorado. Seems the hookers refer to him as "Naughty". Unfortunately, this isn't his first run in with character issues. Last year, during his divorce deposition, it came out that he likes to spend 3,000 dollars a night at strip clubs but becomes so intoxicated he can't remember how he spent the money. Also, he parked in a handicap spot and when a woman who was truly wheelchair bound needed the space the judge threatened her with arrest. I'm amazed with this his moral character he's allowed to be in a position of judging other people. Hopefully, he'll been shown the exit door. You can read more about Judge Nottingham at this link.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Ameriprise now outsources the creation of the financial plan to India

If you read Ameriprise's literature and web site, they talk of the virtues of how they customize each financial plan for each individual's needs and goals. Not so fast. An ex-employee just posted on the message boards that advisers can use an India outsourcing firm called PlanSource to generate this "tailored" financial plan. While I don't have a problem with companies from India, I'd be concerned about having my financial information shipped overseas. Also, I'd be extremely skeptical that the so called tailored financial plan would be generated by someone who probably doesn't understand the US market. This company always looks at ways to cut costs and if it's at the expense of the client so be it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Best Buy loses a laptop now they face a $54 Million lawsuit

Raelyn Campbell purchases a laptop at Best Buy and she also purchases the extended warranty. After the power button on the laptop breaks, she takes the laptop in for repair under the extended warranty. The repair should have taken 4-6 weeks. After the 6 weeks had passed, she calls to see when she'll be getting her fixed laptop. This is where the run around begins. She gets repeatedly lied to saying the part is on order and should be repaired soon. After many calls, Best Buy finally admits that the laptop is lost then they proceed to low ball her on compensation. After more frustration, she finally sues Best Buy pro se for 54 Million dollars. Good for her. When these companies play hardball, you must play hardball back.

Monday, January 07, 2008 owner harrased by an attorney from the Dozier Law Firm

Here's an example of a company and law firm of trying to suppress free speech by using outlandish claims and a variety of threats.

If you live in Direct Buy's market, you've seen their infomercials on your local television station. Direct Buy claims you can buy direct from the manufacture at below wholesale prices. The only catch is you have to have sign up for one of their plans (sounds similar to Ameriprise) . From the web site, the cost to do this will run you around 6,000 dollars for 2-3 years. Anyhow, the web site has 18 pages of negative comments on Direct Buy that Direct Buy didn't appreciate. Instead of trying to improve their business (sounds similar to Ameriprise), Direct Buy has decided to hire a law firm to intimidate the site's owner into shutting down the site or removing Direct Buy's negative comments.

The name of the law firm Direct Buy hired is Dozier Internet Law. The lawyer, Donald Morris, for this law firm proceeded to send web site a cease and desist letter threating the owner with a lawsuit but the real kicker here is he even threatened to sue the owner in Canada since Direct Buy has operations in Canada. Moreover, he threatened the owner if he posted the cease and desist letter that he'd be liable for more legal action since the letter was supposedly copyrighted.

Luckily, Paul Levy from Public Citizen is involved in the case and he sent a response to the cease and desist letter. Donald Morris then sent a threating letter to Paul Levy and Mr. Morris even posted the letter on his website. From reading his response, he and his client have received some type of retaliation by the internet community. As a result of the Streisand Effect the firm has been receiving, the managing partner of the law firm, John Dozier, tried to defend his firm's actions on another blog. On this blog, he states that a court in the United Kingdom upheld that a letter sent in a similar manner was found to have copyright protections. One minor issue with his argument; this isn't the UK. I also found a court ruling in Zimbabwe that said firms this stupid should have their law licenses revoked ;) .

You can read more comments on the blog that discusses this story in greater detail.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Taubman Sucks the movie is now on youtube

A bit of history. Hank Mishkoff started a fan site for a new mall in Dallas, Texas called the The Shops at Willow Bend which was built by the Taubman Company. Unfortunately, the Taubman Company took exception to the fan site thus they hauled Hank into federal court. Hank represented himself and naturally the courts ruled against him. During the appeal, Public Citizen represented Hank and his web site. With Public Citizen's help, Hank won his case. In the end, Taubman spent a fortune with estimates around 100,000 dollars and Hank still was able to keep his web site. Hank, in turn, chronicled his case by setting up the Taubman Sucks web site. Hank's case laid the ground work for sites like to exist. I like to think of Hank as the forefather of gripe sites.

You can view the movie below.

You can also read his case at

Sunday, December 25, 2005 succumbs to the pressure

In my last posting, I noted that KB Homes had filed a second arbitration claim against I checked the Arbitration Forum web site for the decision and I noticed that the arbitration proceedings had been withdrawn. I then checked and the domain resolves to a blank page. Putting two and two together, I figure KB Homes bought out the gripe site. The person who started the site probably figured it would be easier to settle then face a long drawn out legal battle. In the end, buying out the web site was probably cheaper for KB Homes as well. You figure KB Homes had a few options: 1) Let the site continue to operate, 2) Sue the web site, or 3) Buy the site out. In the end, by chosing number 3, KB Homes probably chose the least expensive option. KBHomesucks was a great web site and I see why Forbes rated it number one.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What do you do when you lose an arbitration case ...

You file another one.

On July 17th, 2005, KB Homes filed an arbitration case against the operator of The arbitration proceeding was heard by a single member panelist. On August 30th, 2005, the arbitrator ruled in favor of; therefore, the web site operator was able to keep his domain name. End of story. Wrong! On November 17th, 2005, KB Homes filed a second arbitration complaint against the operator of This time KB Homes has requested a three member panel. You would think that the first decision would put an end to this seeing as an arbitration proceeding is supposedly binding.

I'll keep you updated on this story.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A citizen of Ohio wins a court battle to keep his site up

A citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio who established a web site critical of the Hamilton County Republican Party,, was sued by the Republican Party to force the owner to take the site down. The Republican Party claimed that the gripe site's domain name is similar to the actual Republican Party's web site.

In his brief, Michael Dalton argued that the party’s motion for a temporary restraining order should be denied because such an order would constitute a prior restraint on political speech that would violate core First Amendment principles, and because trademark law pertains only to commercial speech made to promote a business. In a hearing today in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Ralph E. Winkler denied the party’s motion to immediately order Dalton to refrain from using his Web site.

Good to hear that another gripe site gets to stay online.

...So you want to start your own sucks or gripe site?

Every so often, I get an email from someone wanting to start their own "sucks" site and they ask me how to go about doing it. I'll give you some pointers. None of this should be taken as legal advice though.

First of all, you'll need to come up with a domain name. Generally, you'll want to come up with a name that adds some derogatory term like "sucks", "blows", etc to the end of the company you're griping about. This is done so you won't create any brand confusion. You'll then have to go to a domain name registrant like to register your domain name. You'll then have to find a company to host your web site. You can go with one of the free ones but those are usually limited on what services are available and as you grow you may need the additional capabilities.

You'll then need to design your web site. I recommend you looking at other gripe sites to get a feel for how you'd like your site to look. Make sure you don't copy the complaining company web site as this could cause brand confusion. From there, you'll have to download a program to generate html. I recommend Coffee Cup as they have a free version of their html editor that's available at their web site and it's easy to use. You'll also need to decide if you want a message board forum for your site. The forums give the most interaction but they do require a bit of monitoring. You can find free message board software by doing a search on Google. Amexsux personally uses the YaBB message board forum which is free for download at

Once you get everything up and running, you'll have to submit your site to the search engines. Be patient, as it takes awhile for your site to get listed in the search engines. Also, it's a good idea to exchange links with sites that are similar to yours.

Once your site gets rolling, you'll have some people unhappy about the existence of your site so you may start getting viruses in your email inbox so keep your anti-virus software up to date and be careful of any attachments that you receive.

The question I always get is "will I get sued?". This is a tough question to answer as you never know what a company is thinking. These companies realize they have unlimited funds and they know more then likely you have limited resources. Luckily, Paul Levy at has defended a vast amount of gripe sites that are taken to court. In the end, these companies spend large amounts of money and they end up losing and in the process they generate more traffic to the gripe site. The major one that comes to mind is the ordeal Hank Mishkoff faced at

In conclusion, if you feel you've been unjustly treated by a company, stand up for your First Amendment Rights and establish your vey own gripe site.

Welcome to and Webmaster's Blog

As you can see, I've established a blog to go along with my two web sites and This blog will not only deal with American Express and Ameriprise Financial Advisors but it will also deal with topics not relating to American Express or Ameriprise.