Cards full of coupons promising free baby gear have been landing in Connecticut mailboxes. But the Better Business Bureau is warning that the offer may be too good to be true.
Tracy DiPietro's 23-year-old daughter doesn't live at home in Plainville anymore, but DiPietro thought she might have ruined a big surprise by opening her mail this week.
"I opened it thinking it was junk mail,” recalled DiPietro of the card she opened. "It says ‘Holy guacamole you're avo a baby.’”
DiPietro thought the purple card with an avocado on the front was sending an important message.
"It says, ‘I'm going to be a grandmother and why didn't you tell me first, why do I have to find out from this card in the mail?’” she thought when she read it.
The card is signed by Jenny B and even has smudge marks next to the note that looks hand written but is actually printed with the message, “Congratulations!!! I’m so excited for you. I hope you like these.”
It came complete with gift cards and a receipt showing their supposed worth, $245 in free baby gear, from car seat covers to pregnancy pillows.
DiPietro visited the websites on the coupons and gift cards.
"Several of them had the same landing page when I went to them so that clued me in that it was one company,” DiPietro said.
NBC Connecticut visited the websites of the dozen product offers contained in the card Tracy opened. Ten of the 12 said that they were distributed by Mother’s Lounge, LLC.
The Better Business Bureau lists 15 alternate names for the company, including Ruffle Buns and Canopy Couture, the same names on the gift cards and coupons that came with the pregnancy card.
NBC Connecticut tried to take advantage of one of the offers: $60 off at www.littlewaddlers.com. When we went to check out, adding the promo code tacked on $18 in shipping.
"BBB actually contacted this company earlier in 2019. Really questioning these practices,” said Luke Frey of the Better Business Bureau of Connecticut. “If you’re advertising free shipping on a product it shouldn’t change if you use a promo code or not.”
The BBB gave Mother’s Lounge, LLC an F rating. Frey said the BBB received more than two dozen complaints from consumers nationwide over the last three years.
"From what other consumers had said in their complaints they are lower quality products than they thought they were purchasing," said Frey.
The BBB said the company's marketing practices are designed to bring traffic to their website.
"Is it a scam? No. Is it questionable marketing practices, absolutely,” Frey said.
"I think their marketing is shady and I don't think I would purchase anything from them,” DiPietro said.
She went so far as to post the card on social media to warn others. She found out that she wasn't the only one who received this mysterious piece of mail. Other women in her town chimed in saying they received the same card.
As for DiPietro’s future as a grandmother, she said she was relieved to find out that wasn’t true either.
"I told her it's from Jenny B and she says I don't know a Jenny B. And I said that's funny because it says you're having a baby and she's like mom I promise I'm not having a baby!”
According to Scott Anderson from Mother's Lounge Jenny B is Jenny Bosco, who according to the company's website, created the different products on the gift cards as a way to simplify motherhood.
In a statement the Utah-based company said in part, "Mothers Lounge has mailed a heartfelt note which includes gift cards with proof of activation, and coupons to new Utah mothers. The qualified recipients for this mailer have, at one point, subscribed to an opt-in list for maternity deals and coupons through a third party marketing company. All information from third party companies is only used internally for Mothers Lounge and is not sold or used for anything else other than the direct marketing of Mothers Lounge."
Many of the women NBC Connecticut spoke to who received the same card said they were not pregnant and had not signed up for any mailing list for maternity deals.
We told Mother’s Lounge, LLC about the discrepancy and also asked for their response to their "F" rating with the BBB and we have not heard back.