Inside ShopToEarn’s “customer service department”

A reader of Fraud Files recently contacted me to offer some information on the inner workings of ShopToEarn. Readers of this blog have had plenty of questions about the company and its founder, Patrick Welsh. One reader did a bunch of research, and came away with more questions than answers.

The information provided by the latest reader, who we’ll call Jamie, is interesting to say the least. Here’s what Jamie had to say about Shop To Earn…

The customer service department is run by the owner’s sister, Erin Welsh, and their cousin. It was basically the two of them with a couple of laptops on a folding table in Erin’s basement in Baltimore, MD. They hired about 5 or 6 more people, all miserable and glad to make more than $10/hour, to answer emails from clients.

We received no training. You just basically read the emails aloud, and you are told how to respond. We even had to provide our own laptops. It’s quite obvious that they hate foreigners and latinos, which are the majority of their clients. Many times emails were barely decipherable, because the account holder did not speak good English, let alone type it, and we had no spanish speaking reps to help them. Erin’s cousin was always yelling things like “Ugh, I hate these people” or “God, why can’t they *$#(ing learn English?”

We were never allowed to give out the home office phone number.

We had tons of members who spoke NO english, so their relatives helped them sign up. Then when they found out it was a pyramid scheme type business and wanted to cancel, we would require the account holder, who spoke no english, to request the cancelation, despite continuous pleas from their family members. The worst part about this is that when they finally taught the account holder how to request the cancelation, their risk free trial time would have expired, so they were locked into the deal anyway and there is absolutely NO MERCY at STE.

I guess one of the things that surprised me the most was the fact that the owner has made all this cash off these people, and lives the high life. Yet, he lets one of the key parts of the business be managed from a basement and doesn’t even provide computers.

We were also told to attend one of his seminars when he came through Baltimore, but I didn’t go. I didn’t want to sit through two hours of someone trying to convince me to give him $500 during a recession, so I can sell products to my friends. You don’t even make money off the products, and you’re required to buy $100 worth of that crap per month anyway or you don’t get your earnings!

Oh, and don’t get me started about the shipping. People place these orders from Shop to Earth, and then never see them! I can remember one woman who had waited over four months for her order of simple things like cleaner and paper towels. We constantly had emails with the subject: Where’s my order?, and were told to not touch them, that there’s some woman in Florida who handles them. She didn’t do a very good job, because when I left, there were hundreds waiting to be answered.

The other reps and I used to joke that ShoptoEarth must not even exist.

I would NEVER give money to these people. It would be more beneficial to take that $500 to a casino. Yes, there have been a couple of people who made a ton of money, but it is at the expense of dozens and dozens of others who haven’t, and lost a lot of money in a time when nobody can afford to lose any.

I truly hope that one day either the government, or karma, catches up with them, and all these people are paid back. It’s a shame that “businesses” like this are allowed to exist.


  1. Eric

    Wow! I’m just wondering how many of today’s most successful businesses got started in a basement somewhere? Microsoft comes to mind. Any others? How did someone do that kind of research?? Interesting…

  2. Tracy Coenen

    Starting a business in a basement is quite different from what STE is doing. They are claiming to be wildly successful, bringing in millions and millions of dollars. “Successful” businesses don’t conduct their business in a basement on a folding table with employees who are required to provide their own computers.

    The point here is not so much the basement itself, as it is the fact that there are so many unusual things going on with STE.

  3. Lehigh Valley


    Another article about Shop to Earn. It seems that someone has a vendetta against the company. And it seems that there is an other comment by someone with ties to Fraud Files.

    Can somone really research the Fraud Files?? Why are there mlm’s being promoted on their site as well as books on how to make thousands of dollars every day ???

    I checked out shop to earn and I could not find out anything negative in regards to commplaints on the web where someone actually lost money and has given a name and phone number to tell their story.

    If I lost hundreds of Dollars and I was mad, I would post an article revealing my name, John Doe, and my information on how I was cheated.

    The next article I find will be the first.

    I wonder why the Fraud Files will not reveal any names other than those promoting their own website and Tracy Coenen.

    What would happen if someone joins Shop to Earn and start a class action lawsuit against Tracy Coenen, Fraud Files, and for publishing libel that causes them to lose their money spent to start a business in Shop to Earn ??? What if the class action victims have Billions of points they can not cash on because of libel and they are looking to collect damages ??

    Is it really worth the exposure ???? Imagine if an attorney reads this…

  4. Tracy Coenen

    Thanks for your comment, Lehigh Valley. It seems you’ve taken quite an interest in my site, and for that I am happy.

    Yes, you’re right. I do write about MLMs and I do not have a positive view of them. I am just here to inform others about my findings. Will reporting those findings impact those who are trying to recruit new victims into their schemes? Probably, and that’s the point!

    I don’t have a “vendetta” against STE or any other MLM. I simply want to report the results of my research.

  5. Eric

    Amazing how defensive these STE drones have become. I have been reading quite a few of these comments and it is shocking to see that so many desperate people are saying things like “well Microsoft started in a basement…” Are you kidding me? Are people this stupid to compare STE to MSFT? I have 2 people I know that paid the $4XX initial fee and can’t even explain how they get paid in detail? I get all the basics…but as someone who has alot of experience reviewing compensation plans…I found their language and descriptions pretty horrible. Calling this “your business” is a laugh…you OWN NOTHING as Tracey indicated. You are a pawn in a pyramid and are recruiting your friends and family into this scam…many of them probably can’t afford it but its sure nice to get that “glimmer of hope from someone you know and trust!”. When this goes sideways and your friends and family get upset…that will ne nice, right?

    The points are bogus because you get points on the money you allegedly “saved” which takes a long long time to accumulate. Lets say your right leg explodes and your right is weak…are you going to badger your ‘uncle Tom’ for not keeping up his end of the bargin? What happens when some in your pyramid just can’t make the $100 that month and you get flushed after the 60 days because you can’t replace them in time…your not going to hold a grudge?

    This isn’t about shopping (thats what they use to keep the FTC off their backs)…this is a recruiting game. And the founders are using the best tactic…reference selling to your loved ones. You are all so foolish! I would rather have my dignity and friendships intact…and remain poor then sell myself out by roping in family like a STE prostitute!

    I commend Tracy for her efforts to ‘educate’ people before they are scammed. And for the record…I worked at Microsoft in the mid 90s and we were constantly attacked by competitors. The approach a successful and legit company takes? nothing…because it was noise…all noise! We focused on our customers and product. You are all on here commenting on Tracy’s oppinions why? You are all scared that if the “less-bright” read the realities printed by Tracy that you will have no more victims. Get a real job! Something you know is legit and earn it the old fashion way!

  6. andrew

    While I agree that there are issues with Shop to Earn (STE), you should at least give correct facts.

    The savings on shopping are genuine and legitimate. This is the same as other NO COST cash back internet shopping sites. The way these sites work is that you buy directly from retailer websites (connecting from the cash back company’s website), and receive a percentage back. That part is perfectly honest and legitimate.

    The problem is that, while STE does pay out a higher percentage on some retailers, by the time you finish with their charge to send you your own money, $5 a pop, and any charges for using the debit card they put the cash back onto, you have to buy an awful lot to get enough cash back to cover the $448 you pay for the complete package.

    The hook is on recruiting; you only make any meaningful money on constant recruiting by you and your recruits. And there you have to spend a lot of time on recruiting, or be very lucky or a great salesman (like Tony Robbins), as most people either don’t shop that much, if at all, online, or not nearly enough to cover $448 in costs, and so are not interested. Eventually, if you get tens of thousands of downline, and they all do a little online buying on average, you can get some meaningful money just on the cashback, without constantly requiring to add new recruits. But I think that takes a long time to achieve. In the meantime, the basic “product” you are selling your contacts, cashback on internet purchasing for a $398 fee just for the website, plus $50 to be a broker (to make money off adding recruits), is a very expensive ripoff, if not downright dishonest.

    Not to mention the new requirement to buy $100 a month EVERY MONTH of overpriced crap you don’t need or want, for the most part, on their Shop to Earth organic website, if you want to keep all those points you’ve worked so hard to accumulate.

    The concept of getting cashback from third party retailers you’re buying from anyway is great. The problem with their model is the dishonesty in not clearly disclosing that you only make real money, a “business”, from constantly adding ACTIVE recruits who add ACTIVE recruits. Otherwise it is a very expensive ripoff.

    These are the issues that concern me.

  7. angellove

    “STE is a big scam. I joined a few months ago for $448, and have spent countless hours, time, and money, to get nothing in return. I think we all need to join together and get “STE” shutdown completely. As a community we can’t keep allowing them to rip people off, especially those who are on a tight budget, and was convinced to sign up and make money. You will never make any money with “STE”. The only thing you are going to get is complete aggravation. Lets all stand together, and file as many complaints against “STE” through as many sites as we can. The first place to start is with the BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU. I may be able to afford the $448 but not many people are able to put that much money, especially with the down economy.

  8. shanel

    Shop to Earn swept through my church last year. We were visited by a good friend from our church in November, late at night. He said that he wanted to show us something that would really bless” our family, and “bless the church” (apparently, he had signed up the church and the pastor too). He showed us “the Tour” which is the websites’ commercial for the business opportunity. I found the whole binary thing very confusing to me. I understood about buying items online by companies I know and trust. But, I didn’t understand the recruiting idea. He was strongly recommending that we sign up two people in order to make a real difference. He said that I could quit my job and stay home with the kids.
    Anyway, because my husband and I considered this man a friend, and thought that he would not suck us into a scam, we bought two slots in the Shop to Earn website sceme. Our friend told us that we could borrow the money from him, and then pay him back “whenever we could”. Then, he proceeded to take over our computer from 11pm to 12am. Apparently, he needed to sign us up that night, because he was on a deadline to get 10 recruits by a certain time to get his bonus.
    We since tried to sell this idea to many of our friends and family, and fortunately for them, they did not buy into it. We lost our $900, having not been able to sign anyone on. It turned out that we were not borrowing the money from our friend that night, but from someone else from the church. That person came up to us two weeks later, and said, “why have you not paid me yet for the Shop to Earn sign up you did two weeks ago? My wife is asking me for that money” We were so embarrased because we had NO IDEA the credit card our friend was using was this man’s card! So, we gave out our SSN and personal banking information to this so-called company, lost a huge amount of respect for our so-called friend, as well as for other “friends” who were trying to get us in. All of these people have since moved on to other things (some to other scams, unfortunately), having found out that “Shop to Burn” only took their money.
    This is the real damage that gets done by MLM’s. The money could have been better spent, but the damage that it does to relationships is the real loss.

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