I’ve been seeing more and more site visitors coming to CompareRewards with the search term “Wellness 360 scam.” The fact that people are looking for information about whether Wellness 360 is a scam should be a pretty big tip-off that something’s not right over there. So with the help of my good friend Ginger, this is the information we’ve been able to dig up:
Wellness 360 (see my original review here), tells prospective members on its home page that, “Your FREE membership actually earns cash because wellness360 advertising revenues are shared with members.” The home page also links to a press release from June 30, 2008, “Aperture Health Announces Social Networking Service That Pays Its Members,” which promises “substantial cash rewards.” On the Registration page, the site says that membership entitles you to “all of the resources and financial incentives we offer.” If you click on the Non-Member Self Tour, you’re told, “Your FREE membership will allow you to earn wellness360 points that are redeemable for cash — just for your continued usage of the website.”
So that’s the promise. But do they deliver?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. No payments have been sent since the second quarter of 2008.
I was paid in full for my second quarter earnings, but Ginger was not. Wellness 360 gives you a 15 day window, at the end of a quarter, in which to request payment. She was sure that she requested it, but W360 had no record of it and told her to re-request after the third quarter, which she did. We’ve heard from two other members who received second quarter checks of less than half of what they had in their accounts. One was told her account was adjusted due to “excessive use” of the site.
On December 19th, Wellness 360 sent an email to members who had cashed out after the third quarter that said in part:
We recognize that you successfully earned enough wellness360 rewards points last quarter to have qualified to redeem your cash benefits. We wish to apologize for the delay in sending out your 3rd Quarter rewards check (corresponding to wellness360 points redeemed in October). Due to the impact of the economic crisis, we experienced delayed payments from our advertisers, and as a result were unable to send out our members’ personal checks within our usual time period of 45 days after the end of the prior quarter.
The good news is that we will credit your account with the points you redeemed for the 3rd Quarter of 2008 plus an EXTRA 25% bonus (“Third Quarter Bonus”) for the inconvenience — all you have to do to earn the Third Quarter Bonus is keep your account active through January 15, 2009 at which time you can then redeem all your points plus the 25% Third Quarter Bonus.
Frustrating? Absolutely. But at least there was the 25% bonus for the inconvenience.
So, members again had the opportunity to cash out from January 1st through 15th, this time for earnings through the fourth quarter. A member still clinging to hope of being paid contacted Wellness 360 regarding the status of her fourth quarter check and received the following response, dated February 25th:
At this time, we have still not yet sent any 3rd or 3rd+4th quarter checks out, and I don’t have any specifics regarding when we will–beyond our site stating that payments are typically sent “45 days” after the redemption period. Obviously, this was not a typical year.
So sorry that I don’t have more information to provide! Please hang in there and continue to enjoy the always-free services and features on our site–we appreciate your ongoing dedication to the program!
Note that 45 days after the redemption period would have been about three weeks ago.
Aperture’s quarterly financials, filed on February 13th, included the following statement, which I think pretty much says it all:
The Company cannot guarantee that revenue from wellness360 activities will increase adequately to sustain operations in the near term, nor can the Company be certain that additional funding will be available on acceptable terms, or at all. Any debt financing, if available, may involve restrictive covenants that could impact the Company’s ability to conduct business. If the Company is unable to raise additional capital when required or on acceptable terms, the Company may have to significantly delay, scale back or discontinue the development and/or commercialization of one or more of the Company’s products and or services.
The report also stated that “rewards cash dollars equaled $33,941 in the current period” and, “We had no revenues during our six months ended December 31, 2008.”
A quick glimpse at their prior quarterly report, filed on November 19, 2008, yielded these little gems of information: “Currently the Company’s existing capital resources are insufficient to fund operations for the next 12 months,” and a working capital deficit of over $1.7 million and a stockholders deficit of over $2.7 million, “raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
Based on all of this information, I think that members shouldn’t expect to get paid by these guys ever, at all. You can make the judgment call on your own about whether you want to stick around and use the site just for funsies — but keep in mind that a) there are other free websites that offer similar features like diet tracking and wellness articles, and b) Wellness 360/Aperture is still advertising that they’re paying members for using the site when they have no ability to do so, a huge no-no in my book. Personally, I’m pulling my referral links and taking my page views elsewhere. I’d suggest that you do the same.