You are here

“Free” products weren’t really free

Share this page

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

This same thing has happened to me and I have no idea how to fix it. When I called the number on the bottle they were very rude and hateful. Not sure what to do.

The very same thing just happened to me! Exactly! I shop online a lot, because I am disabled and housebound and I hate having to ask my boyfriend to get and do everything for me. I always research any new product especially consumables and I also found rave reviews for garcinia camboa. I have never purchased a diet product of any kind and was able to loose 80 lbs on my own. That was 3 years ago and I have been unable to get rid of the last 25 or so lbs of pure belly fat:/ and figured this garcinia camboa is a natural supplement that may help

according to Wendy Williams Dr Oz and others according to multiple websites and reviews. I too read the fine print (terms and conditions) and saw nothing about any subscription or monthly billing. I live on a very tight fixed income being disabled and would never bother with a sample if it came with a monthly subscription bill of $89.97(prime time naturals) and never mind the additional $89.97 (ABC Perfect Health Plus) for some additional green coffee complete that I only bothered with due to the "deal" that was offered. When I went back to my email receipt I still was unable to find any mention of additional future charges

so I went through my Internet history and found https://  my-diet-offer. com it even has the secure site lock symbol before the address. I found the shady,tricky, scheming language there... By checking this box I certify that I am at least 18 years old and agree to the Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, and enrollment in a recurring billing system. That very last sentence after the links (that I did click on) for terms and conditions and privacy policy. When I searched the term recurring billing system schemes I was shocked to see that the first page of results was all advertising from companies promising to get you a "monthly revenue stream" with their proven systems. Followed by a page of ripoff reports and scam alerts pertaining to the very same scheme. How is this even legal and what ever happened to success through honest and transparent business practices?! 

Why is everyone so eager to scam poor people out of what little they have? If they would put half that effort into real honest business they would be rich without any shame. Doesn't anyone have any pride anymore? Shame on all of them! (and no I am not from a bygone era of mythicaly moral individuals I'm in my 30's). Now I am hoping to get my bank to help as according to their website help section they aren't fond of scammers either.

You can report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Did you get your money back from your bank?

This DEFINITELY worked for me! Please let everyone know your instruction works for FULL refund! Thank you-blessings from Texas!

Bianca you said that this instruction definitely worked for me...could you please pass those instructions to me? I am in dire straits here and need your solution. Thank you so much. Ronnie

Just dealt with the same thing from a company called Green Natutals. The deal was just pay shipping $4.95 for a 30 supply. When I first made the order they chArged me for two other products I didn't want. Then 2 weeks later I found a charge for $84.91. I called the number that appeared on the charge on my bank statement, which is just a 3rd Party Customer service. The first person I talked to refused to do anything and said I can either get 60% of the $84.92 I was charged or return the pills and pay a $19.95 restocking fee. SUCH A RIP OFF!! So then I called my bank and told them what happened and they filed an unauthorized transaction claim for me. I then called back the Customer service number and told them I filed an unauthorized claim with my bank. I also said I would report them to the BBB, and after a 10 min hold, the lady immediately refunded my money. I proceeded to scold the lAdy on how unethical this is and that they are stealing money from unwilling people. So to get your money back you have to threaten them with the BBB and they'll be shaking (the lady's voice was literally shaking when she told me she needed to get authorization to refund me)

Same thing just happened to me!! On the phone right now with my bank. They (Healthy Fitness 26632 Towne Centre Dr Suite Foothill Ranch CA 92610 844-902-1300) stole $93.99$ from me!!!!

This is EXACTLY what happened to me and when they realized they were on a 3-way call with Barkleys Bank they went for the refund pretty quick. I received refund and cancellation number. The next day there was a charge for $87.47 and I went thru the process al over again. Fortunately I was able to lay into them how they should be ashamed. This is what our country has come to. Why not? we have such honest role models in our Government...

Right

Same thing happened to me. $87.14 at a time. Shameful company Fitness Super (phone) 844-965-3246

Did you find an answer on how to get ahold of them? I'm trying to figure out how to contact them other than some lame support email address

The number is on your credit card statement. Doesn't look like a phone # until you realize it is all run together with an area code. I'm fighting like hell but will probably have to cancel my credit card to stop the charges. Pisses me off!!!

Call your cc and file unauthorized transaction

The number to reach them is also on the bottom of the bottle in very small print. Trust me it takes forever to get through and when you finally do they will tell you your 14 day trial started the day you placed your order and by the time you receive the supposed 14 day free trial offer the 14 days is over and they have billed your credit card or if you use a virtual visa they will have taken the money from your account. Biggest bunch of scam artists around. When I finally got through they directed me to their web site where in very small print it states that you agree to be charged for the product 14 days after the order date not the received date. I got charged 260.00 for two little bottles on Friday August 19th 2016 and received the product today Tuesday Aug 23rd 2016. I explained this to the so called CUSTOMER SERVICE REP on the phone but they don't care. Only offered be a 50% refund and tried to talk me into keeping the auto ship portion. I am going to contact my bank and have these bogus charges reversed. I will never ever again order anything on line and certainly will never trust a free trial again.

These details would be useful in a complaint. 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.

This same thing has happened to me as well! I just got off the phone with their customer service (what a joke) and was told that since I did not cancel within the 14 days 'from date of order' that she could only cancel future shipments.

I told her that I only agreed to their 'free trial' and only had to pay the shipping charges of $4.95, some small dollar amt.for trying the product. I did not read all the fine print (stupid me) which they are saying is where I agreed to receive the product on a monthly basis along with the mthly charge of $99.95.

I told rep. that I did not agree to this and that I wanted the charge credited back to my account. She refused! said she can only cancel future shipments. She said I could go back to their website and re-read the agreement. I told her I would but that I still want my money refunded, even more so since I have not even received product! She then informed me that it was back-ordered and it should be delivered today.I told her WOW ! your company did not inform me of this nor did they send an email to confirm my so-called ongoing order,etc.

I then requested again that my money be refunded and that I also want a confirming email or letter sent related to the fact that future orders have been cancelled I also said that I was not done with the issue of obtaining my refund and that I would be contacting the BBB and FTC,etc. Representative then hung up on me! Needless to say no refund and now I have to contest the charge thru my bank as fraud, Yea. These companies are SCAMMERS! and they purposely do not send anything to you via email or any other method to confirm your order! they DON'T WANT want too! You may come to your senses I have learned my lesson, and that old saying is true "BUYER BEWARE'!

These details would be helpful to law enforcement. 

Please report what happened to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

The exact same thing happened to me!! I usually read reviews, but dud not on this company or their "free" sample. It is exactly as the claims made here. Said there was a 14 day trial period- I never saw that!! Found they were going to charge me $89.95 for a bottle of Garcinia Cambogia, which I can purchase at WalMart for $9.95. GNC wanted to rip me for $39.95, reduced from $49.95 ! Thanks GNC, the old reliable! Greed and scams is the status quota these days- total greed. The phone # for Health .. is 800-588-3149. I fought off the hard sell and refused to accept anything less than a total credit on my credit card, and I had to return the product - no problem!!

The 800 number you have listed is for the Garcinia and Green Coffee Complex ?

Curious to know how you got them to reverse the charges because I had the exact same situation I wasn’t aware of that I was going to be paying for this these bottles of pills at $89 a pop where they couldn’t cost anywhere near that no way anyone is buying them for that. So there are some people got them for free if you called in in time and somebody people didn’t if you didn’t call in time and I didn’t even know I needed to I thought it was free pay for the shipping. That’s a lot of money hoping for some help on how to get them to reverse the charges or give credit me back.

this happened to me as well i just tried that 30 days trial and i thought after purchasing them everything will be done but no, they charged me $121.00 so i called them with this no. 18882551750 and explained that i never signed up for any monthly charges so why am i being charged? they told me that it says on the "terms of agreements"im agreeing to this condition. but i insisted and told them i never read anything like that at all and they were only able to give me $50.00 back and thats it! i am never buying anything that says free because now i know for a fact that its a total fraud!

You can help law enforcement by reporting this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. You can tell us what you saw in the ad, and what happened when you asked for a refund. This information can help law enforcement with investigations.

What number do you call to get help?

Who did u talk to for a refund? These people are full of crap

Please help me, how did u get ur refund because I'm facing the same thing.

I have seen these ads for everything from diet products to well, almost anything you want to buy. I've even filled out the information requested to the point of Credit Card info and that's where I stop. At this point I always kick myself and repeat my mother's words in my head "if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is" and yet the next time I'm filling it all out again hoping against hope that there truly is SOMETHING out there that is really free. You deal with this type of thing a lot, please tell me, there's nothing free out there, right?

I was burned years ago by one of these offers. I am glad that you all are looking into this; especially because these company's are stealing from the consumers.

This scam runs rampant in news pspers, magazines and definitely TV. Why arent there laws to stop this and punishments dolled out? If there are laws they should be published more often to keep innocent, including the elderly, from this deception.

Your credit card company cannot help you either as the fine print is worded so they are able to get away with the scam over and over. You can cancel with them but are out the $79.95 that they have already billed you. It is very deceptive. However, a high price to pay to be affirmed that online ordering has just become too unsafe anymore.

I saw an ad about weight loss tablets that said," pay only shipping and handling fee for free weight loss tablets. They were advertised by people from TV so I thought I'd try them. Well a month later I got more with money taken out of my account. It was with Global Resources Products

I got hit by the same thing. I was in the hospital when they took the money out so needless to say this company called Natural Green Cleanse scam me also. I never saw where they could take money out of my account but my bank said it did. I'm so darn upset that this stuff is allowed to go on even when the bank is made aware that this is a scam. I'm done with ordering online now.

Right on target. I got stung with a similar add for natural sleeping pills. Took 3 months and Citi Cards to extricate me from the clever trap set by the seller. They use lawyers to take advantage of any loop whole or questionable areas of law to set you up. Glad to see our federal Govenment is involved. People need protection.

very helpful and on time, as usual. Congrats and THANK YOU
jose

this is stupid

What is stupid?, the article or the blog. You need to re-evaluate and heed advice that is very sensible!

Ditto. I am a college educated, retired computer professional. Although I regularly read new articles about current scams going around, I have been "bit" a few times, and feel totally embarrassed.

Some of these FTC blogs might sound so obvious, but as another scam targeted consumer, I believe you can never be reminded too much about the electronic dangers we all face in this modern age.

I appreciate the FTC taking time out to publish consumer friendly blogs to help educate us all. The more we are all educated, hopefully the less $$$ the bad guys will scam from innocent consumers.

Wait till you get burned by one of these scams then we'll see if you still think they're stupid.

Call your credit card company. Tell them about the fraudulent charges . They will investigate and not hold you liable . Then tell them to change your account number. You can't be billed anymore.

Beware of credit karma.com. All they want is your credit card number or debit card number. I still havn't received my "FREE" credit report. I've complained several times to no avail. Thank You.

You don't enter a debit or credit card number on Credit Karma and the credit report is instant, nothing is sent to you. Sorry, it seems you didn't use the real Credit Karma.

i never had to give credit karma my credit card number. are you not able to print your credit report from online. any problems with being billed illegally contact the bbb in that state, the attorney general consumer fraud and your bank. most of the time the banks and credit card companies will return your money. my advice for people is to realize you get nothing for free, and most of these companies bill you later, so don't order the products no matter how great they sound.

You can't blame Dr Oz, he tells you right on his show that people are using his name when it is not him. If you want to know what he recommends, you need to go to his website.

I have read the above statements about the free coffeebean,face cream etc. It's called double -pilling by some actors in Hollywood. I always read the terms before I try something free. They say 30 day trial and it ends 14 days and starts the day of order and if you don't cancel before the 14 days and get the unused product back within so many days they charge your credit card. Now I can imagine all the women who don't read the terms, and bingo can't get their money back. Also, my complaint added to the above one is Dr. OZ said he was going to take his name back, because it was loosely being used to push product. Well he himself is pushing the PROUDUCTS, I just wonder how he sleeps at night an what kick back he gets. Even T.V. reporters interviews Hollywood gals and they stand behind the products. STOP the SCAMS this is an urgent matter, for all who fall for it. TOWORDS COMSUMERS!!! or at least tell them to READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS PRIOR to ORDER. Dr.OZ is on T.V. and in print everywhere. Thank you so kindly of reading a double complaint from someone who wants justice for the Consumers. And thier money from being taken away until they fight to the ends of true justice. Of course thier is always something fishy behind FRE FREE!!!

I just went through the same experience with a "free trial". However, I did read the terms and conditions. But, I found a new twist. I tried to contact customer service to cancel on the 12th day. It rings and rings. I put it on speaker and it says you can leave your number & someone would call you back. I kept holding until it no longer gave me the option and said to leave your number. Big surprise, no one called back. This scenario happened four more times, I never got a call back and gave up. Of course, I got charged. I got a different phone # from my bank (one associated w/the charge) and surprisingly I got a live person. I told him how many times I tried to cancel and had phone records to back it up. We haggled and he was "authorized" to give me 30% credit. Haggling went on--it went to 50% and then 75%. When I said I planned to contact FTC, he gave me 100%. Do not order from Metabo Green Coffee Cleanse! You won't be able to cancel!

Well you were able to cancel weren't you? you got your money back right?

Sounds to me that cancelling was nearly impossible this time. How many others were never able to cancel? The laws need to be changed to favor the consumer and stop these automatic re-ups.

you must work for the bunch or somethin g because you are the very first comment I have seen and have nearly read them all that has taken up for them so you are in the scam someway for sure their mel?

Same thing happened to me. I cancelled my credit card first, had them issue a new one and new account number. I read about it after the fact and was able to at least stop further charges from occurring. I then called to cancel and they told me I had to wait until January 18th to cancel. I'm going to mail back pills certified and I'm going to call on the 16th to tell them I did that and to tell them I am cancelling all. I will also mention bbb as well but thankfully they won't have my new cc # or acct # to run it anymore. I suggest everyone do that and maybe they will stop the scam. Cards get lost every day;)

I have recently had the free trial offer, which said nothing about the auto billing but after 10 days you have to cancel-nothing given about that. The product is AuraVie - skin care products- said I would only be charged for free shipping and handling, then charged $97.88.
Has anyone had success getting their Credit Card company to reverse the charge or allowing you to dispute the transaction? If you have please add a comment.

Pages

Leave a Comment