FROM TACKY TO BAD TASTE
Some time ago, I responded to something sent to me by Jillian Coleman because I had a gut feeling about her offer. It is another of those get-rich messages that makes you feel that the only thing you have to do to become rich is to buy her program. Of course, I have been bombarded since then with e-mails that attempt to sell self-help programs—a term we used in the junk mail industry to indicate people looking for the “free lunch—with proposals for everything from real estate to having my own Internet cash machine. After 35 years as a junk mail data broker, methods like this that really work are few and far between. But that is not the point of this post.
On September 13, the day Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast, Coleman was on the Internet contacting supposed suckers like me with a folksy lead-in of four paragraphs about how her family had suffered in the storm. This preceded her pitch in the next paragraph telling readers how she wanted to help her neighbors get low-cost government loans and grants. All you had to do was buy her self-help program for $597 including a HUGE discount of $300, apparently in honor of Ike. She listed her website not once, but three times.
Coleman did say early-on that “part” of every sale was going to organizations assisting in the Ike aftermath. She didn’t say how much or who. Now that is just what a hurricane victim needs, a pricey system to search for loans or grants when many of them couldn’t even find their house. She makes one last pitch before giving her website for the last time. But this is only the beginning.
On September 15, Coleman is back with more of the down-home approach—it works folks, believe me—with another diatribe about Texas’ “Third Coast” and its “miles of beaches and barrier islands, dunes, and sea grass that curve along the Gulf of Mexico.” The pitch starts in this e-mail saying she is donating money, but she wants to do more. And that can happen if you buy in to yet another offer headlined as an Internet cash machine. No, I don’t have the slightest idea what this has to do with hurricanes either. Billed as the “Hurricane Ike Sale for our Neighbors,” it sells for the discounted price of $1,497. There are four links to make your purchase.
There is yet one more pitch on September 17; you’ll note the separation of two days between each e-mail to let the victims, who probably don’t even have a computer left for Internet access, to absorb the gist of this amazing benevolent appeal. I decided to probe further, and came up with some interesting additional information on Coleman and her Austin, Texas company, Live Oak Tree, LLC.
Another of her offers was featured on the Ripoff Report: “Coleman & Associates; GrantMeRich.com.” Samuel of Plantation, Florida complains to the online consumer organization in this headline: “Coleman & Associates; Grant Me Rich.com Stay Away From Coleman & Associates Grantmerich.com Scam Artists! They Have Refused to Refund My Money 1 Year after I returned their USELESS product!!! Austin Texas.” Apparently Samuel purchased Coleman’s “Ike special,” New American Land Rush, and to say the least, he thought it was “useless” and wanted his money back.
Jillian Coleman may be the most legitimate company in Austin, TX, but at the very least, you have to admit this approach is very tacky and reeks of bad taste. There’s more, however, another follow-up on September 27, and a comparison of how these people come out of the woodwork, from Katrina to Ike. Next time.