By Steve Patterson
St. Louis (KSDK) - The Better Business Bureau is investigating a recent incident involving a North St. Louis church and the marketing arm of an Alabama based contractor.
On Tuesday, a large crowd gathered at the Powerhouse Church on 4001 West Florissant Avenue. People there were told upon handing in a small set of personal information for a promotion they would be given a free $500 food voucher.
That voucher has yet to materialize.
Instead, people were asked to join in the mass signup of high-rate, pre-paid debit cards.
The cards come with a hefty $4.95 monthly fee, on top of $1.95 ATM withdrawal fees and a $2.99 inquiry fee for phone calls.
BBB Investigator Bill Smith is working the case. Smith spoke to Powerhouse Church Administrator Howard Walker, who says he was hired by contractor American Marketing and Promotions out of Alabama.
Walker tells Smith that the event was unaffiliated with the church, that he was doing this on an experimental basis. Walker also admits that he agreed to take .75 cents for each completed debit application.
So far, 181 people who received the email to apply have formally signed up for the card.
Walker says AMP promised to provide the $500 vouchers in a matter of days, although he's had no communication with the company principals Tracy Gordon Cooper and Wallace G. Cooper.
Walker says he still believes the vouchers will come in the mail, in four to five days.