'The Motley Fool' - An Abusive Relationship

A couple of years ago, I was just getting interested in trading and was looking for good research sources. I had read about The Motley Fool in a few articles over the years, and actually know a couple of people that recommend them.

Their least expensive, and most widely used, service is the "Stock Advisor" subscription. Once a month, the "two fools", Tom and David, provide their stock pick of the month along with analysis. They maintain the usual lists you would expect (e.g., 'Buy Now', 'Hold Now', 'Sell Now', 'Starting Stocks', and a few others). You get access to these lists and recommendations with a "Stock Advisor" subscription, which runs at $200 / year. In the world of investing advice subscriptions, that's actually pretty cheap.

Their stock picks are about what you would expect. Some do well, some fail completely. If you want to use them as source, I recommend you do your own research on the companies they suggest before investing.

My biggest problem with the site, though, is really that once you are a customer, 'The Motley Fool' treats you, well, like a fool.

Firstly, as soon as you register, you'll immediately start seeing ridiculous e-mails and ads to pull you deeper into the company's products, paying more and more money along the way. The day I registered, for example, I got this in my e-mail:

If you are curious where the link at the bottom takes you, it leads here (yes, safe to click), which, as you can see, is yet more bait.

Lest you think this is a rare occurance, I promise you it is not. The next day, I got another one. This time I'll just show the end of it:

I quickly found my e-mail settings and turned off as many of the notifications as I could. That stopped these messages, but it didn't stop everything else. For example, here is what I see on Facebook:

These sorts of ads are designed to make you believe that 'The Motley Fool' is going to make you 'impossibly wealthy', overnight, without any work on your own, if only you pay them a little more money to get the secret knowledge of how to do it. It is dishonest, abusive, and a very poor investment strategy.

These are just a couple of examples. I saw many, many more over the two years that I gave the service a shot.

Finally deciding that it just wasn't worth it anymore, I decided to cancel my service. That's when I discovered that there is no way to cancel your service online. They make it very easy to sign-up online, but there is no way to cancel. (By the way, if you want to cancel your service, instead of 'submitting a request', as they suggest, call them directly: 703-838-3665, or 888-665-3665).

While trying to figure out how to cancel my service, I discovered their 'F' rating from the BBB, and more than one consumer complaint.

Before subscribing, be sure to read some reviews from other sources. This is also a great article on the site.

If you decide to give it a shot, just be careful. Don't get fooled by their hype, and be smart with your money.

Ben Hilburn

Ben Hilburn

bits, nibbles, bytes, and words
D.C. Metro Area