This fall, Bob Floresca went mattress shopping at Beds Plus in Wilmington. The store was offering a promotion for $500 worth of free gas, with the purchase of a mattress. A pretty nice incentive considering the mattress Bob wanted was $2000. "I looked at in a financial way as okay,” he said. “The mattress is really only going to cost me $1500, because I'm going to get $500 back in gas purchases." Beds Plus gave Bob paperwork to fill out and mail to a Florida company called FreeBeeGas.com. For every $100 Bob spent on gas, FreeBeeGas was supposed to send him a $25 gas gift certificate. Bob filled out the paperwork, but the gift certificates never came. "They said we should have it by the middle of January. Well the middle of January came and went, and still nothing," Bob said. Bob was not the only person having problems. Hundreds of customers of Beds Plus, and other retailers like Ashley Furniture and Tire Kingdom were beginning to complain that the gas promotion deal was not working as advertised. "Probably about three months into it we started noticing that fulfillment wasn't coming as quickly as anyone would like," said Beds Plus owner Kevin Hancock. "After a couple of months of trying to figure it out, we started pulling the promotion completely." Hancock paid $6,000 to take part in the promotion, only to find out it was a scam. "We're out thousands. We invested in these certificates, again it was something extra we could give to the customer," he said. The Florida Attorney General is pursuing legal action against the owner of FreeBeeGas, accusing her of deceptive trade practices. In the meantime, business owners like Kevin Hancock are having to do damage control with customers like Bob Floresca. "I mentioned about asking for a $500 check back and they said, ‘Well that's not going to happen’," added Bob. "We value all of our customers. We've worked hard to build a great name for ourselves over the years,” said Hancock. “We certainly apologize for this to happen, had I known in the beginning that this would have happened, we would have never tried to do anything extra, we would have just kept doing what we do." On a positive note, the marketing company that sold this promotion is trying to at least partially compensate customers. They have set up a website where victims can file a formal complaint with the Florida Attorney General. Log onto www.gasresolution.com to submit your complaint. The site also shows you how to sign up for a number of free gifts, ranging from hotel stays to membership in a health discount program.
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