Telemarketing Maven Buys $8.3 M. Duplex to Go with Current Spread

About six months after Steven Feder, the psychic hot-line guru behind that pay-per-call legend Miss Cleo, bought a $24.5 million condo near Central Park, Cheryl Mercuris, who founded the telemarketing firm Quality Resources Inc., based in a 20,000-square-foot call center in Clearwater, Fla., paid $8.3 million for a duplex in the same building.

She’ll combine the duplex with a 1,987-square-foot apartment she bought for $2,750,000 from a Salt Lake City attorney in 2004, according to city records.

“I love the building,” said Ms. Mercuris, who returned a call at night after getting off a flight from the Hamptons. She’s been coming to New York about once a month, but will visit more now that she has the new space. “I have a lot of clients in the city—mostly infomercial clients, direct-response.”

Did her telemarketing money buy the apartments? “I paid cash for them, so I would think so. The second one I just bought for $8.3 million. So, yes, the answer’s yes.”

Ms. Mercuris essentially last made the news in 1996, when a firm called Travel Investors Inc. was sued for deceptive practices. She had been president of the group’s telemarketing subsidiary. When asked about it, she said, “That was in the ’90s,” and then suddenly began discussing Sex and the City. “I was a big viewer of the show, and I was in New York a lot for business, and probably because of the show I bought an apartment there, and doing things in the city I was seeing the girls do—I’m pretty much the same age as Sarah Jessica Parker,” she said. Ms. Mercuris is single.

The Better Business Bureau processed 131 complaints about Quality Resources in the past three years, and several Web sites list complaints from people who were called by Quality telemarketers who already knew the last four digits of their credit cards. “That’s, you know, the way we market,” Ms. Mercuris explained. “We really don’t get many complaints, once people understand how that works.”

As for her spread, the two bedrooms on the new duplex’s top floor will be turned into one master suite with a walk-in closet and a sitting room; she’s combining the duplex’s lower half with her older apartment, making three bedrooms and one immense space with a kitchen, bar and dining room. The floors will be travertine marble with black accents. “I like very neutral warm colors,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d call it—traditional contemporary?”

Asked if she feels guilty about telemarketing, she said her firm only makes calls about products people need and want. For example: “We’re actively marketing a discount health product to consumers that don’t have health insurance.”

mabelson@observer.com