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“Free” products weren’t really free

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The story: a company says its product will help you lose weight without diet changes or exercise, and you can try it free — 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

The reality: the company can’t support — or deliver on — those weight loss claims. If you give your credit or debit account number, you get charged $60 to $210 every month — and it’s almost impossible to get a refund. On top of that, you get enrolled in offers you didn’t ask for — with more monthly charges.

Add it all up, and you’ll understand the FTC’s case against Health Formulas, LLC and its network of companies. The companies advertised products from skin creams and “green coffee bean” weight loss supplements to virility and muscle-building products. Ads ran in print, online, on radio and TV.

 

According to the FTC, the companies used “buy-one-get-one-free” promotions or offered a free month’s supply for a small shipping and handling fee to persuade people to hand over their account information. Once they did, the FTC says, the company started charging them every month — not just for the original product, but for other products they hadn’t agreed to buy. Despite a “100% satisfaction guarantee,” people found the quest for a refund an exercise in frustration.

The FTC has information about “free trial” programs — and the hidden charges that might come with them. Before you try a new weight loss product, read Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness
Scam Tags:  Free Trial Scams

Comments

You can report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

Yes it is a scam they took my money after I said I didnt want their
product I think they should Be held accountable something should
Be done Dont Buy Garciania Cambogia

I should have really googled Garcinia Cambogia and Colon Detox from Alpha Labs before giving them my debit card number. I just got scammed out of $200, when the products themselves only cost me $10 total.

I ordered a "free"trial all I was supposed to pay was $5.oo shipping but I was charged $87 dollars for that bottle. No refund no product. I was so angry.

The marketing strategy of Garcinia Cambogia Pure Extract is a new low in the business of SCAM and deceit. Because of my negative experience with Garcinia Cambogia, I have decided to never accept an offer for a "Free Sample" of anything from any online company ever again.

The page GreenNaturalsForskolin.com has a big button in the middle that says "Free Trial Bottle Here". We received the product on 1/18 and were billed $84.71 on 1/26. Terms say "10-day trial begins after product is received." No answer on 1/26 attempting to cancel. Call on 1/27 we were told that since we opened the product, they'd have to charge us $19.95, there is no such thing as free. Refund policy in Terms states that unopened Product excludes trial product, so customer service lied to us on several points and refused to refund our money during the qualified 10 day period; even stated that if we canceled on the first day, we'd still get charged $19.95. Stay away from this cheating company.

I work for a credit card company and deal with these people EVERY day. I can PROMISE you nothing says the trial starts when you receive the product, it always starts when you first order it. They have no legal obligation to refund you after they charge you the full price, even if you send it back. PLEASE spread the word and get people to stay away from ALL "free trials"

how did you get out of it?

How can you cancel that montly charge? I have to cancel my card or something?

Depends on the card you used. Credit card? Contact the agency and say it's a disputed charge, you didn't authorize it. Debit card? Contact your bank and have them block the vendor. If you gave them checking account and routing number, you may have to cancel the account and open a new one. Again, I suggest visiting your bank in person or contacting your credit card agency.

February 2017: I am going thru the same thing $98.18 was taken from my acct: with out my consent plus having no money in the bank(my acct.) I got it with a service charge of $30.00. The bank will try to get my money back but I think I used my card for shipping and handling but the company did not have my consent to take more then $4.00 dollars out of acct.I will continue to fight this! Read what others have said, Good Luck! Your right? Fight them

So someone just called me and said they had sent a free trial and that I had to pay for the shipping. I agreed on it at the beginning and said I didn't have my card info at the time and to call 3hrs late. They called and I told the I wasn't interested in the products anymore the lady got mad and said you have to pay we already sent you agreed on it and everything is recorded. I told her well I'll pay when I receive the product I didn't know what to say but for sure didn't want to givey card info after all...
Can they do something against me for agreeing to pay and not paying after they supposedly had already send the product ( which I don't remember them saying they were going to send it either way)? She reminded me many time everything was recorded...idk what to do

Federal laws say a business can't send you merchandise that you didn't really order, and then demand that you pay for it. This FTC article about unordered merchandise explains more.

If you get merchandise that you didn’t order, you have a legal right to keep it as a free gift. You don't have to pay.

I was gonna give the trial a run and see how it went but the company added another product to what I had agreed to and when I received it with my busy schedule luckily I hadn't opened it yet when I started seeing large charges to my card both of which was from.this company. 88 for one bottle and 94 a few days later for the other bottle. I was told they could give me 50% back or since I hadn't opened the product I could send it back for a 9.95 restocking fee per little & I pay shipping.They said it could take up to 30 days once they receive the product back before I'd see a refund and u better be live I will be getting shipping insurance so they can't make excuses saying it never arrived

Luckily I found this website and read up on the company. I used the phone number on my bank statement and contacted the company directly first. I told the girl I was talking to that this is what was going to happen...they were going to refund the $79.25 they'd already charged me and they were going to cancel the pending $79.20 charge against my bank account, and they were going to cancel my account effective immediately or I was calling not only my bank but my attorney, the FTC, and the BBB to report this fraud. This was the response. "Well it doesn't work like that. I can't just put money into your bank account for no reason," and a refusal to cancel the account. So I said ooooh, it doesn't work that way? We'll see about that. Then I hung up.

I called my bank as soon as I hung up to dispute the already charged amount, put a stop payment on the pending charge (which was free because it was an unauthorized charge.....SCORE!), and cancel my card to prevent further charges. Those things were done in less than 5 minutes and I'll have my new card in a week. :)

I found an email I'd gotten while on the phone with the bank from this company verifying my account cancellation. Lol. Now I don't know whether the company is planning to issue a refund as well, but I'm getting my money back either way. And they won't be charging me anything else either. All done in less than 10 minutes! I'm proud of me.

Don't let them keep you from a 100% refund! Period! Go through other channels like your bank/credit card company. Don't let them keep any of it. And don't let them keep you on the phone all day either, I was on the phone for less than 10 minutes total. They're just trying to get you to give up on the full refund by making you wait. Good luck!

This happened to me recently and I was only able to get a 75%credit. Then another company called well fitness.com debited my account for$20. For a magazine I never ordered. When I called sounded like the same people and offered me 50%credit. I argued and threatened to report and they said they would credit my account for the full amount scam

This happened to me, what a scam! Buyers beware it is not free and you will be billed. Do not order from healthybodynowtry. com

SCAM!!!!! Me and my husband both gave our bank account information and they've already made an unauthorized transaction of almost $300. Please do NOT trust the ads!!!

Who do u contact to fix it. I can't find a number ok n anything. My account been charge 300 dollars.

Thank you guys for the info. Just got off the phone and they are letting me send it back and get a full refund.
Like everyone else is saying KEEP PUSHING. They offered me a 50% refund but I kept saying I would not settle for less than 100%.
I threatened the BBB, FTC,and Consumser-Attorny General. Also threw in there that my attorney said if they dont refund, we will pursue further action. Just get in there and be confident and dont back down. They CAN give a full refund, they are lying. Lesson learned I will never do a "free trial" again. Good luck everyone!

my son is 14 he received an 100 elgible reward I have no information except 1866 4315 459 claim number 2466 19 33 this information came on a postcard

just recieved this same scam in the mail

there are the same scam on e-cig,value 99.95 you just pay 4.95 shipping ,then they charged me 99.95 then i was charged 99.95 for green coffee,what i never heard of.it ended up costing me 4.95 plus 49.98 ,the bank said in fine print it was free to try ,then return in 15 days or pay 99.95,how can you try it with out opening it,the banks are helping scammers but don't check them out good.???

OK so can't you change your banking information to stop the charge

This just happened to me I ordered some garcinia pills and just yesterday they took $100 as well as the 5.95$.what can I do?

You could contact the company to say the charges were not authorized, or contact your bank (if you used your debit card) or credit card company (if you used your credit card).

This FTC article explains how to dispute credit card charges.

Hi there. I fell into the same trap. Just pay $5.95 shipping for a two week trial of Total + Garcinia, I should have known better when I went to check out and they "automatically" included a bottle of Easy Green Coffee supplements "complimentary 2 week trial" as well, they just automatically included that shipping charge too. No big deal, but when I got my bottles 6 days later, I started using them and realized that there was a months worth of supplements in the bottles. I thought this must have been an accident. At day 14 from order date (not the date I received them), my card was charged $93.99 and $93.63 and I called immediately and asked them how this was possible. After being on the run around, with a lady who is barely spoke English, she kept apologizing and asking if she could send me just one more free something or another, or she could add a discount, or she could reduce the price, also she she is so so sorry, I asked to talk to the manager, three times!!! And she claimed they were too busy, so I told her I would hold as long as it tech tech. After I finally got the supervisor on the phone, I explained to him my frustration, and he tried offering all of the same things without refunding my money. Then it was he could offer me 25% off, then 50% off, then 75% off, before I was so fed up… That I told him he would refund me 100% of my money or I would be leaving a review on the website, contacting the better best business bureau, my bank, and my lawyer need be. This was when he finally told me that he would totally cancel my account and the money would be back in my account and my bank in 2 to 3 business days. Success. My lesson learned, if it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is. Also… I didn't really notice the product really worked.

I am dealing with this same issue!

My mistake was that the first time they charged my credit card over 150.00 I did not really notice it amongst other charges and I paid it without question.

But today when I received another bottle of the stuff, I got suspicious.

I immediately called my credit card company. I am disputing the charges and have no intention of paying them.

I have sent emails requesting to cancel these "automatic" subscriptions, and have also put a block on the credit card.
They will not be able to charge anything further, even if they choose to ignore my emails. What a scam!

Do you still have contact info for them? I'm 100% sure I went through the same company but can't find the original order info.

I also was a victim, but was lucky enough to be refunded 100%. Call the number that is listed on the bank statement transaction. In a nice but firm way, let them know that their advertisement is very deceiving & that you are requesting a full refund or else you are going to report them to the BBB, and FTC. The representative may offer a 50%, refund, but be firm with 100%. Be sure to get the name of the person and the confirmation # of the refund. Being passive-aggressive works!! Good luck!

I received 4 charges on my credit card... $4.94 $4.95 89.97 $69.97 I answered a Costco survey for a $50 credit... Once I finished the survey, a bunch of free gifts were listed with only shipping needed. Total scam. Here's numbers on my statement... "Order my Garcina" 800 846 0677 Also... Received some type of cleansing pills that I did not order... Charged $69.97 plus shipping 844 318 3369

I'm very sorry that this happened to everyone but thank you for sharing. This site kept me from having this headache. Wish everyone will in getting 100% refund back. Again thanks for posting.

How do I contact them? I just have a statement with my bank saying I was charged 150$ from a website that doesn't even work. Any help would be amazing

If you enrolled in a free trial offer from a marketer that overcharged you, contact the company. If the company won’t give you a refund, call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Ask the credit card company to reverse the charge because you didn't intend to order the additional merchandise. If you were wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC.

Hi I'm in this situation right now and I don't know what to do. I messaged my bank telling them I didn't buy anything that was $79 and they haven't gotten back to me yet but I was going to email the company but it said my mail didn't send to them! What do I do?! I need help please and I don't know where to call the company cause I don't have the number

I'm going through this now, I can't find a contact number. How did you contact them?

8556035177. I just called them to cancel and get a refund on 2 charges on my account. They tried telling me it was a 14 day trial period and I could cancel when it was over I said no cancel it now and I want a full refund 100% or I will join in on the class action lawsuit he(john) said I can FL give you a 30% discount I said no it will be 100% or a lawsuit he said let me see what I can do he can do he came right back and said good news I can do 50% I said that's not good news because I said 100% or a lawsuit and i want an email confirmation. He put me on hold for about 3 minutes and while on hold I began to get cancellation emails and refund emails. He came back on and said he was able to get 100% and it would be back on my card in 3-5 days and I said it better be or I will be calling back and filing a lawsuit. He assured me it would be there

can I have the number you called? I noticed I have lost too much money on my account.. my bank statement just came in now and they have charged me $89.96 twice in a matter of 10 days I'm so angry at myself right now

I got hit by just that. It's not just weight loss formulas it's also wipe new products for headlights. and car cleaning products. Thankfully I got a refund on the weight loss one.

How did u get ahold of them?

I was refunded $357(estimate) I called my credit card company(capital one) and told them I didn't authorize any monthly payments and the advertisement said free trail only pay for shipping which was like 4.95 and I explained to her that it said nothing about if I don't cancel I'll have to pay 89.95 a month and I was crazy to order both products they were advertising so they got me for 89.95 and 88.95 for two months which totaled 357. Anyway my credit card lady called the company on three way and stayed on the phone and said just holler when I want her to jump in. First the metabochoice company told me the will issue me a 50% refund but I have to pay a restocking fee .. at first I was like okay just give me some of my money back then I went in and told them how they wrong for stealing from people money I told her if I would have known they were gonna charge 89.95 after the free trail I would have never signed up because I probably would have forgot to cancel and 89.95 is and outrageous monthly fee then I told her I'm reporting them to the BBB. She put me on hold and came back 2 minutes later like okay man we are going to issue you a full refund and we not not charging you a restocking fee and the products that are on the way that I can keep them and she said I'm going to cancel your membership. I gladly thanked her and said have a nice day...and yes my credit card lady made sure to get a conformation number from them and repeated her so you are refunded her for all 4 products in full and canceling the membership and that just made my day. I don't like people who has to deceive you to get money jot right, I hope everyone get their money back

I just did the same thing but I cancelled my card because my credit union was issueing me a new card so i wonder will i still be charged if my debit card is no longer active

What number did you call ???

I would like to no whst no.yuo used to get your money back from garcinia

Me too! I have been charged almost $200 for something that was supposed to be a free trial. I called to cancel it and they told me that the 15 days had passed. I told them because of the holidays I just received my order. They said that doesn't matter your 15 days starts from when you order the product. How is this legal and how is the company getting away with this? Is there anything I can do to get a full refund? They told me they will refund 25% which is nothing compared to what I paid. I haven't even opened the bottles and told them I will send them back. They said I can't do that. This has to be illegal. Who can I contact? Help!!!

You could contact the company again to say you want a refund, or contact your bank or credit card company and report the unauthorized charges. Please report your experience to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

1-888-445-7487

I am looking at talking to an attorney to file a Class action lawsuit against the company Health Vitality Group LLC who I did a trail for Active Garcinia.

OMG! A few weeks ago I ordered a free 30 day supply just pay for shipping $4.95 of garcinia slim and they also threw in the green coffee pills for free just for $2.95 shipping. That's it, that's all it said. NOTHING on their site said to cancel or be charged. I got one email that was super basic just showing who the charges would be from on my credit card, again nothing about cancelling. Today I check my bank and see 2 separate charges on it. One was from New Day Diet and the other said Plus Fitness and it was $87.47 & $89.31!! It's a rip off! I even looked up the stuff online that day and weighed the chance that it would work because it was everywhere I looked and no one said anything bad. After I got charged today I go and try to look them up and wouldn't u know it they can't be found anywhere nor could the deal I got, except by a different company claiming the same thing. It could be them I guess and they change their name every month to keep this scam up. My bank gave me a temporary refund and is listing it as fraud since I agreed to nothing they charged so I'll let them deal with it. I'm so stupid but it sounds as if I'm in good company here, lol.

Please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. You can give information about the company, and it will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

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