Courts & Crime

Iowa company that preyed on seniors to make restitution

How wonderful to see a company that preyed on senior citizens by selling high-priced magazine subscriptions get kicked out of its home state and forced to make refunds.

That's what has happened to Heartland Inc., which last month agreed to leave its Urbandale, Iowa, headquarters after that state's attorney general confronted the company for its sales tactics.

"Heartland is in the process of dissolving," Allison Steuterman, a lawyer for the company, said in a brief telephone interview with The Watchdog.

In March, Steuterman had assured me that everything at the company was on the up and up, but when I listened to recordings of phone calls with a longtime Hurst pastor who complained to The Watchdog, I could not agree.

The Heartland telemarketer spoke so fast to Carter Foster, rattling off the names of magazines, that I couldn't understand what he was saying. Foster had the same problem, but he still agreed to the sale.

The salesman ended the conversation by saying, "The easiest way to remember our company name is, 'We're Heartland and we love you,' OK?"

When Foster received the bills, he was shocked. The total was about $1,500. When he called to protest, he found out he had bought five-year subscriptions. At first, he tried to cancel, but the company wouldn't let him.

After Foster listened to the recording of his calls, he told me: "As I listen to the recordings, I feel deeply heartsick. I have Parkinson's, and the medication I was taking left me less than alert."

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