Sylvia Sky, astrologer, Tarot reader, and gemstone enthusiast, is a widely published author of books and articles about spiritual matters.
Worst U.S. Psychic Hid Her Name for Good Reason
Negative reviews of the late Sylvia Browne, media psychic and convict, span the Internet and she was notorious for false psychic readings, so while she was alive her online business venture SpiritNow.com wisely did not mention her. Now that she's dead the homepage features her name and photo, but the main illustration on the homepage is still a cheesy gypsy with a glowing crystal ball. Because of Browne's bad reputation and the YouTube video of her most disastrous reading, I couldn't resist the offer of a free 5-minute psychic reading for first-timers. So I entered my question, email address and birthdate, hoping for 5 minutes of fun.
The input generated a 1-888 phone number and an activation code for my free phone reading "with an amazing psychic who will answer your question honestly." It added, "As seen on Fox TV," and everybody knows what a fountain of truth and honesty Fox TV is! So I called.
Before I got to speak with anyone, the SpiritNow answering machine required me to "press 1" to agree to the Terms and Conditions posted on the website. You should always read Terms and Conditions, but to save you reading 5500 words of thorny legalese, I will summarize: You must agree never to bring a class-action lawsuit against SpiritNow's parent company Preston Media; must agree that the readings are for entertainment only and if you take the reading seriously, Preston Media is not responsible for what happens; and any comments you make on the site's blog or forums are theirs forever and so is their right to identify you.
After this I was not so eager to call again, but I called, pressed 1, and after 12 recorded "sorry to keep you waiting" cycles, the service rep answered. Before connecting me with a psychic he spent 7 minutes presenting me with reasons why this was not a con, never once mentioning the famous Sylvia Browne. He said SpiritNow employs 250 psychics, all thoroughly tested. "We guarantee you'll get an accurate reading," were his actual words. He added that SpiritNow is accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Unfortunately that is untrue, as it is not in the Bureau's database and its parent company Preston Media is unrated.
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My Free Five-Minute Reading
I'd sent my question via the Web so I thought the service rep would have it already, but he made me repeat it and then gave me the extension for Patsy, a "third-generation psychic" and "clairvoyant channel" who could contact my spirit guide. If Patsy's extension was busy, I should try Maria Christina, a very "down-to-earth" and honest psychic who was "not going to sugarcoat anything." Both are 5-star psychics with many satisfied clients, he said.
I said I was ready for my free 5-minute reading. He said I could get it, but if I was "like most people" I would want to listen beyond the 5-minute signal, and each minute after that cost a whopping $6.99. "That could really add up," he said, and did the math: 20 minutes at $6.99 is $140. But as a special offer he could knock off $100 and I'd get a 20-minute reading for only $40. I said I wanted my promised free 5-minute reading.
Then the wicket got sticky. He said I must give my credit-card information in case I wanted to listen beyond the 5 free minutes. I replied that I fully intended to hang up at the 5-minute mark. He said I couldn't have the 5 minutes unless I first gave my credit-card information. Because only shady businesses offer a freebie and then try to coerce the customer into giving credit-card information for something she doesn't want or intend to buy, I finally said, "Thanks, but no thanks," and hung up.
Eleven minutes had gone by...and no free reading! For my efforts, all I got was Browne's weekly horoscope in my email and two identical "free psychic Tarot readings" although I had entered two different birth dates. Since 1974, Browne, a U.S. resident who died in 2013, had carved for herself a dark niche in the Hall of Shame, telling parents their missing children were dead when they weren't, or doing appalling "readings" as Las Vegas and cruise line stage entertainment. The spirit of her business SpiritNow.com is just as unsavory.
Sylvia Sky, experienced astrologer, monitors online horoscope and psychic sites for quality and accuracy. See her review of Psychic Power Network. Copyright 2013 by Sylvia Sky. Sylvia does not select or endorse the ads appearing on her pages.
Is Tarot Psychic? How a Tarot-Card Reader Knows Your Business Before You Ask
Sylvia Sky (author) from USA on June 23, 2015:
Here's what I found: Montel Williams said on a radio show in Washington D.C., "I’ve said it clearly on my show a million times, I don’t believe in psychics. You know, I happen to believe that, that for, for whatever reason, this woman [Sylvia Browne] has a little bit more intuition than most people I know."
But -- and probably more important -- his show received "50,000 to 60,000 more phone calls" on the days Sylvia Browne was his guest.
Sylvia Sky (author) from USA on June 23, 2015:
Eliza, that's a very good question and I think I'll locate Montel Williams and ask him.
Remy red on June 22, 2014:
This is totally not worth it I winded up with a charge for 120 dollars being in the negative with my bank account for information my 7 seven year old could've provided never again these was things I already knew nothing specific more like counseling very bad choice
Lorie on August 19, 2013:
spirit Now, and your complaint department apparently don't talk. No correction on weekly horoscopes for Gemini and Cancer are still the same, happened last week with the daily forecast. Guess that proves it's all bunk anyway.
Amy M. on August 01, 2012:
Watch out for BIG-TIME SCAMMERS/FRAUDS in Texas, namely Dallas......this so-called psychic Wanna-B's business is "Ann Newman & Associates" in Dallas on mockingbird lane. My mother-in-law was scammed for thousands of dollars as these dispicable vultures scared her into believing our family was jinxed and we needed to spend some big money to rid ourselves of dark family evil spirits that had been around for many generations. What a crock of bull this woman was. Please save your money and stay away from those psychic vultures. Good luck!
Monica on April 30, 2012:
Slyvia Browne has been operating a scam for years in California. I once paid for a reading With her in person. When I got there she was "unavoidably detained " and her son did the reading instead. Not good!
Sylvia Sky (author) from USA on April 19, 2012:
Dear Sweetsndimples: I wrote an article just for you, about how to get refunds from psychic scammers: https://sylviasky.hubpages.com/hub/Get-Refunds-fro... If you live in the USA, call and make a report to your state Attorney General's office.
sweetsndimples on April 19, 2012:
Unfortunately, I've fallen victim to the scam and now I'm having to fight with them and my bank over $300.00 in charges!!! If anyone has advice please help me.
Suzanne Sheffield from Mid-Atlantic on March 30, 2012:
The first time I saw Sylvia Browne on television I "knew" she was a fake and could not believe people were taking her seriously. Come on Montel. Really?
Eve on January 05, 2012:
Follow your heart. Do not give up your OWN POWER to anyone. Do not listen to others voice. You have your own voice to listen to. Each one of us has our own truth and has our own path to walk. Sylvia (the author) is walking her path but does not mean that everything she says is true or not true, or right or wrong. You are the only one that can tell if the information laid out to you is right or wrong FOR YOU. Use your own discernment and intuition, do not listen to what other people are saying. Listen to your heart to find YOUR TRUTH. Namaste
Nikki on November 12, 2011:
Every bit of what you are sharing is soooo TRUE! I did the same thing before having the chance to read your article. There is always a catch.
Kelly Renee from Texas on September 20, 2011:
Thanks for all your reviews. They're really informative and you are quite funny! Sylvia Browne has always rubbed me the wrong way, and knowing she's a part of this scam doesn't help my opinion of her.
Jean Bakula from New Jersey on September 20, 2011:
I know you wrote this in all seriousness to help people not get scammed, but I was laughing about some of the stuff they said. When I personally read tarot for people, I'm not even sure if I'm accurate. I read it as I see it, and hope for the best. Don't you have to say it's "for entertainment only?" I know sometimes you can get needy people with lots of issues, and they keep bugging you for readings, to try to make decisions in their life. If somebody is too immature to make their own choices, and instead goes against their instincts because of a tarot or astrology reading, it's not the fault of the reader. Readers have to distance themselves to a certain degree, or customers like I spoke about above get like leeches.
Hattie from Europe on September 20, 2011:
hmm... well interesting, but I would never call one of those lines anyway. Most of them are scams, and how do you know they aren't using her name and stuff without her permission. :)
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 20, 2011:
Good article with good information. It is clear that the "free" readings are not meant to be free. And why would "accurate readings" be for "entertainment only?" Seems like people are paying for lies. Thanks for the eye opener.