Free gas card problems

Seven On Your Side
January 28, 2009 3:22:38 PM PST
Earlier this month we brought you a story about a car dealership offering free gas cards as part of a sales pitch. That turned out to be the tip of the iceberg of consumer angst. Now, we've found nearly a thousand consumers from 47 states complaining about the company behind the free gas promotion. Rose Torcato bought a car from Freehold Hyundai last summer. She says the salesman promised her $500 in free gas, "They said a certificate would be mailed to me in 3 weeks time."

Rose got a certificate with a big catch. The most she could receive was a $25 gas card each month. In order to qualify, she had to first buy at least $100 worth of gas and submit the receipts. Rose sent in nearly five months of receipts to the gas redemption company but received nothing.

"It's already January and I haven't gotten a single cent from them," Rose remarked to 7 On Your Side's Tappy Phillips.

Sandra Collier fell for the same free gas offer when she bought a bedroom set from Jason's Furniture in Ocean Township, New Jersey, "No receipt, no debit card, no nothing."

The company behind the promotion goes by many names (like freebiegas.com and freegascentral.com) all are under the umbrella of Tidewater Global Consulting from Clearwater, Florida. Florida's Better Business Bureau says it's received more than 700 complaints from customers like Rose and Sandra in just the last two months. That's why they've given the company an F rating.

So we went to Freehold Hyundai and the furniture store who ran the promotion locally. Both store managers said they were victims of Tidewater's problems.

"They're really an outside company, that we're not actually, you know, liable," said Freehold Hyundai manager, Aaron Brown. "But we still want to do the right thing by our customers."

And he did, the very next day the dealership came through with a check for $500. "(I'm) very happy. Thank you very much Channel 7."

Florida's Attorney General has an addition 300 complaints about Tidewater Global Consulting and are currently investigating the company. Tidewater never returned our repeated calls or emails for comment. The dealership says the terms of the gas deal was discussed with all customers at point of sale and after we got involved the dealership told us they will honor original free gas redemption plan themselves. They even set up a hotline to service people's gas redemptions.

Freehold Hyundai's Gas Certificate Redemption Hotline: (732) 252-1058.

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Story by: Tappy Phillips


Produced by: Steve Livingstone


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