True story. Read on.
In May of 2011, I decided to make a Will using Legal Zoom, this new, marvelous, well publicized, online legal service, that, supposedly takes care of all your legal needs with the click of a mouse. I filled out all the paper work, made all the necessary entires, pushed the button, checked my Will, clicked my mouse, and ….Hey Presto!
Several days later, the Will arrived. I checked it, and filed it, hopefully never to see it again. I received an email from Legal Zoom, the only email I have ever received from them, although they would certainly dispute that, asking me if I would like to file the Will in their ‘Vault’? In my humble opinion, their ‘vault’ could only be an on line back up system, but, what the heck, and why not, so I clicked my mouse one last time, and ABRACADABRA, whoosh! Off my Last Will and Testament went into the ether. I now had a copy, they now had a copy and everyone was happy. Total cost $75. Cheap and well worth it. After all their Ad specifically says, ‘relieve all your legal issues with the click of a mouse. No need for expensive attorneys”
14 months later, the phone rings. It was my CPA.
“Alan, what’s this $14.99 that keeps appearing on the Amex bill every month from Legal Zoom?”
“No idea, send me a copy”
Well in my business, our credit card statement goes to our CPA, who checks the bill, and if there is anything untoward on that statement, he calls and lets us know. In this case, 14 months worth of charges had gone unnoticed. Not a tragedy by any means, but an oversight, to say the least. It took him another 8 weeks before that statement arrived on my desk, which happened to be this morning. I had no idea what these charges related to, nor had I ordered any services other than my Will, from Legal Zoom, so $14.99 every month for 16 months, was wrong, and I immediately picked up the phone to talk to someone at Legal Zoom to have these charges rectified. And here, my friends, is where things get really silly.
Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis will know that I tend to recite past conversations word for word, so, without further hesitation, here is the conversation I just had with Legal Zoom. Seeing is believing!
“Good morning and thank you for calling Legal Zoom, my name is Ash, how can I help?”
“Good morning Ash, how are you?”
“Fine thank you sir. How can I help”
I presented Ash with my account number and he never asked me one single security question. We jumped right into it.
“Ash” I said, “You have been charging me $14.99 a month for 16 months on my Amex card for a service I never ordered and for a service that doesn’t apply to me or my Will”
“Yes sir” replied Ash, in his very pleasant Indian accent. “I will need to put you over to one of our legal specialists to explain this charge to you”
“Ash, forgive me, but I don’t want a Legal Specialist, I want a supervisor who can give me all my money back. I have been conned here”
“I understand Sir, but our legal specialist will be able to assist.” And with that short one line statement, I was placed on hold.
Music, always bloody music.
“Hello, this is Stacy, I am a legal specialist, how may I help you?”
Here we go again. I gave her the account number and THIS time, she asked me security questions. With the questions out the way, I explained to Stacy exactly what I had just explained to Ash, and here is what she told me.
“Well Sir, when you signed up for your Will, we offered you a 30 day trial service of our “Legal Advantage Plus”
“What’s that?” I rudely interrupted. I had no idea what she was talking about.
“It’s a service we offer that lets you change your Will at any time, and lets you “Vault” your Will with us for safe keeping.”
“But I never signed up for that service. In fact, I have never ever had any emails from you confirming this service, nor have I ever had any statements telling me you were taking $14.99 a month for the pleasure of performing this service!”
‘Well…” Stacy was remaining calm, I was becoming quietly agitated,”..you had a trial period with us for this and never canceled the trial.”
“Hang on Stacy, how can I cancel a trial of anything if you don’t inform me that your trial is coming to an end?”
“Well we do send emails, perhaps you didn’t receive it?”
“Perhaps your system never sent it? But that’s not the point Stacy. I want the charges stopped with immediate effect and I would like a 16 month refund ASAP. This is fraudulent behavior, and it’s not a correct way to conduct business” I was really pissed now!
“When you received your Will by email sir, did you ever have it checked by a licensed attorney?”
“WHAT??????” I was floored by that question. “Why would I come to Legal Zoom, to get legal advice and assistance and THEN have to pay an attorney to double-check your work?” This was making no sense to me at all, in fact, it was bordering on the bizarre.
“That’s why we offer Legal Advantage Plus. It means if you have to change the Will, after you consult with your chosen attorney, there would be no charge to change the document with Legal Zoom.”
Now, I was flummoxed. I sat down in my office chair, thought about her answer and for the first time in a very long time, I was rendered speechless, though I have to admit, not for too long!
“Let me get this right, just for my own clarification, and remember Stacy, I am not shouting at you, you are just the person at the other end of my current frustration, so don’t take this personally.”
“I won’t” she offered, in a quiet and controlled manner.
“I spent X hundred dollars making a Will on Legal Zoom and now YOU want me to consult my own attorney to make sure YOUR work is legally binding?” I continued, ” That bothers me Stacy, and it doesn’t resolve my current issue. Now, let me tell you once again, just so we are all on the same page here. I have been making payments for a service that not only I never ordered or wanted or never knew about, but a service that is no good to me whatsoever, so, what are you, as Legal Zoom going to do about halting this service, which I never ordered, refunding my money, all 16 months worth, and confirming back to me, in writing that I will not be charged again?”
Stacy then went into a diatribe about how good her service was, how I should reconsider, how I should be 100% certain I would not require this service, that I never ordered, in the future, but, all to no avail. Again, I interjected.
“Stacy, let me ask you once again. How do I get a refund, and how do I cancel?” This was becoming tiresome.
Music. I was on hold again.
Stacy returned, refund in hand, and ready to turn off my unwanted and never ordered service. It took 34 minutes to get to this point, but oh boy, what a pulava! How can Legal Zoom be this ignorant, inefficient and sneaky? Well, they are run by attorney’s, that’s why! One of their founders defended OJ after all, so should I have expected any less? My advice? If you want anything done that’s of a legal manner, consult a proper attorney and not an attorney that’s just the click of a mouse and a few dollars in savings. And I leave you with some lawyer humor
A man phones a lawyer and asks, “How much would you charge for just answering three simple questions?”
The lawyer replies, “A thousand dollars.”
“A thousand dollars!” exclaims the man. “That’s very expensive isn’t it?”
“It certainly is,” says the lawyer. “Now, what’s your third question?”