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

The FTC has tips to help you reverse fraudulent credit card charges.

pat the best thing you can do is what I just did and cancel your credit card and have them issue you a new one? should have it in 7 day's is what I was told so they will be no more charges on my card and I want do this crap again you can take that to the bank also they only got less than 10.00 dollars off me but I didn't take a chance for them to bill me again I have cancelled before they could is the only reason i can tell you that

Actually the best thing to do is call them and tell then you are gonna call the attorney general then there probably gonna offer you 30 than 50 just decline then and say you want 100 percent of your money out your going to call attorney general trust me I use to work for a call center like this and remember don't take it out in the agents there just don't there job and earning a living

My complaint is much the same, 'VYDOX' is free for only a
small (less than $5) fee. They have your credit card number and started billing me for $90.00/month. Tried to
call the company, no phone number. Went to my bank to tell them I did not approve of it and don't allow it any
more. (That company got $180.00). The bank looked up the
phone number for the company. I called them, They said if I had returned the unused product within 14 days that they
would have refunded my money. How are you going to try it
for free and they bill you $90 a month? I am turning in a
complaint with the FTC TODAY.... BUYER BEWARE OF 'FREE'
pills, etc. PS. THEY DID NOT EVEN WORK...

I just had the same thing happen to me with the Green Theory Garcinia Cambogia. The add said "free 30 day trial" so of course i assumed that i would be able to use the product for the full 30 days and after that if it worked perfect maybe ill order another month worth, and if i didnt now i know what doesn't work. Well i woke up and check my bank account and i was charged for 71.95! I called my bank and had them cancel my card because i thought i was hacked by someone in california! I went to the bank and they told me to call the number listed to see what is going on. So i did. They informed me that if i did not want to get charged for the mo th or be continually charged every month following i should have sent the pills in after 14 days. I of course cancelled the billing because the product did not work for me. I then called them back telling them that their add said a free 30 day trail and i should not be getting charged, their customer service rep then proceeded to tell me i was wrong and they dont give their stuff out for free. After about 5 minutes of going back and forth she hung up on me! NEVER USE GREEN THEORY GARCINIA CAMBOGIA. Dr.Oz even approved this one and is getting heat for everyone getting scammed by them! Remember nothing is ever free!!

I just recently called the Garcinia Cambrogia outfit and 4 different people hung up on me (one had said I was black listed) since I had called my financial institution when I saw one charge for almost $80 on my bill, then another bottle was shipped out without my knowing it, and sure enough they charged another $80 on my credit card. It is cancelled now, but being hung up 4 times and their not willing to take the 2nd bottle back, I'm out over $160 + the 4.95 shipping...which they say was printed on my receipt, not so, I would never had agreed to a bottle of 60 pills for 80.00...no way, and if the fine print said that, they made the fine print so small no human being could ever read it. I'm retired, no extra income and did not take but 12 pills of the original bottle sent me, had surgery so had to stop all vitamins etc. beforehand. Thus, nothing worked for me. I'm out the money, they're off the hook because they told my credit card company that I agreed to this nonsense...NOT. Any suggestions, as they refused to talk to me on the phone -what are my options?

Here's information from the FTC’s "Free" Trial Offers:  If you see charges you didn't agree to, contact the company directly to sort out the situation. If that doesn't work, call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Ask the credit card company to reverse the charge because you didn't actively order the additional merchandise. If you've been wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC. You also can contact your local consumer protection agency, and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

I purchased Perfect Age anti-wrinkle cream and Beauty Labs instant wrinkle reducer. I was told that both products had to be used in order to achieve the best result. The terms indicated that there would only be a nominal shipping charge. If, at the end of the 14 day trial period I changed my mind about the product, I should call within this period. If not, I would be charged the full price of $87.63 for Beauty Labs and $87.63 for Perfect Age. I cancelled within the 14 days, and Perfect Age said they would remove my name and I would not receive or be charged an additional amount. Beauty Lab, whose terms and condition were the same as for Perfect Age, said I would have to return the remainder of the product and will be charged $87.63. When I complained, I was told I would be given a $40 discount if I return the product. I returned the product and, of course, they charged me the balance. Don't get suckered into this as I did. The products don't work. It's deceptive because, as the creams dry, they tend to tighten the skin. It looks o.k. for a few minutes, then the wrinkles and sag return. Of course, after you wash your face, it's back to the ole wrinkles.

Jan 3rd So I ordered my "free Bottles" from Green Theory of the garcinia and a cleanse, liked the cleanse so ordered a bottle then looking at my bank I notice I was charged $170ish when I called they said it stated that it was only a 14 day trial! then you would be charged. So went back to the site and did see way below where it said to order you "Free" bottles that is was a 14 day trial and then you would be charged, I did notice that no where did it say the amount. I called them back and said that ok my bad for not reading the whole page but that they knew nobody did read that. I was told that it wasn't their responsibility but mine. and was informed that it also stated that in a small paragraph at the ck out. Funny how they put the "free" in large bold print but that it is going to cost in small print! Beware!!!! Go to Walmart and get the same thing with better results for $13 a bottle. I was told that it only worked better because it wasn't 100% natural. but the bottle I bought there states no fillers and works better. ok done with my rant:)

How do you contact these people to get these charges taken off??? I checked my CC and it was charge $89.00 instead of the $3.95?? What a scam.

Here's information from the FTC’s "Free" Trial Offers:  If you see charges you didn't agree to, contact the company directly to sort out the situation. If that doesn't work, call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Ask the credit card company to reverse the charge because you didn't actively order the additional merchandise. If you've been wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC. You also can contact your local consumer protection agency, and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

I just got ripped off by GREEN GARCINIA PRO and NOX FACTOR with this FREE trial bull.

I couldn't return the product with in the 14 days as it took 10-12 days to get to me so I was charged $120 by each company.

I have made a complaint with the FTC and cancelled my credit card and will be asking the bank to reverse the charges

Others beware of these two fraud deals.

I recently did the same thing with Monticeto Skin care, after I had already entered my card number, I got out the magnifying glass and read the fine print which said I had 14 days to try it and every 30 days after the trial I would be billed 99,00 for another month's supply. It was so small I could not see it without a magnifying glass. Within 5 minutes I called the number listed and the number was an Engineering Co. in Californiat. I did get a person and told him it had only been five minutes and I wanted to cancel my order. He told me I would have to pay 38.00 dollars anyway, he was not able to cancel it. I became livid because I realized what had happened, and I screamed at him and told him to cancel it and if he didn't I would call my bank and cancel my card. He finally conceeded and said goodbye. A few days later I got the product in the mail and I called them and told them I had already cancelled and that I was not going to pay for something I didn't want, they again told me I had to pay 38.00 dollars anyway, whether I returned it or not. I again became livid and hung up on her. Today is the second month and I saw the charge for shipping on my account and immediately called the bank and cancelled my card. So that is the final solution, and now they can't charge me. I will never fall for this kind of scam ever again. Don't order from Monticeto Skin Care.

Were they able to still charge your account after you cancelled your card? I ordered a free trial only to find out several "scam" things about the ascend garcinia, so I called to cancel and they told me I could not cancel because it was already shipped out and I didn't even have the product. I immediately called my bank and cancelled my card and ordered a new card number to be issued. My "trial" is almost up and I have a new card number which they don't have. But still wondering if they will be able to charge me. They are not allowing me to cancel.

The same thing happened to me today. I should've known better. Skin care regimen called Royal Serum. Free trial. There was no mention of the 14 days return on this website. The company claimed that it was Christie Brinkley's new skin care regimen. Well that wasn't true, because right after I placed the order I checked online and her skin care regiment is a different name. The advertisement disappeared from Facebook. I had no receipt via email. I called my credit card co and told him to block my credit card. I also got phone numbers from the credit card company that were with the pending charges. I called this afternoon said I wanted to cancel. The girl said it's too late shipments ready to go out. She did however cancel automatic shipments but only on one of the products. I called the other number and I got a lady that really knew her stuff. Got a total refund. I asked her to email me all this information. I took good notes and got the cancellation numbers for the credit card company. I got the lady's name and the call center that she works out of. I think she was a supervisor. Lesson learned .

Coffee pure supreme and garcinia combodia pure extract from Neutron Diet got me! They charged me a total of over $240 until I checked my credit card activities to find out. I called these two fraud businesses to complain that I didn't allow these transactions. They told me that I should have read their terms and conditions. My argument was that even if they are going to charge me as their terms and conditions, they should have called or sent me email to confirm the charge. Dishonesty is on their part.
After unable to talk to these businesses, I contacted my CC company to dispute these charges. At the same time, I will report this kind of practice from Coffee Pure Supreme and Garcinia Cambodia Pure Extract by Neutron Diet to the Better Business Bureau.

I have been in a dispute with METABOGREENCOFFEE for months. Returned my free trial and the 2more items they sent after canceling and they billed me after I cancelled. Doesn't anybody go to jail anymore??????

If you were billed for merchandise you returned, you can contact your credit card company to dispute the charge.

First, please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint so it becomes part of the FTC database that investigators use. Find out how to dispute credit card charges in this FTC article. You can dispute items yourself, you don't have to pay someone to do it.

This is terrible, these people think they can get away with this. I ordered the metabo garcinia and green coffee cleanse and that was around 14 days ago. Thank god for Google wallet. Little did they know I used my prepaid Google wallet debit card for the transaction so since there was no money on the card, it didn't go through when the charged me 180 dollars for the two bottles.I am happy that I did it like this because I easily canceled my card and have a new one on the way.

So, then why not just by a gift card for the set amount, so they can't charge anymore?

I ordered the two weight loss products and received two face creams instead. Thank goodness my bank caught the large charges about go come through and cancelled my card. I'm an idiot. Thinking Dr. Zoo approved them and now they are trying to charge me and send all kind of stuff. Wow!

Their scam is actually written into their Terms of Service. Thing is they are being misleading to the consumer in the up front information. "Free trial" means what it says it means, "Free trial". You got to try it for free then you will be billed the full price if you did not return it within 14 days.

Due to it being written in plain English in their Terms of Service, there's no legal dispute and you need to just eat the charges. Worse of all, if you don't contact them they will keep you on the subscription, and have your card stopped, they will continue to add up your bill which will eventually lead to a legal dispute between you and them.

They are manipulating a broken legal system to screw people out of money. US Law SHOULD require companies to be specific and more up front with how they are screwing people but as long as it's written 'somewhere', they can do whatever they want.

I couldn’t get in touch with the company. Their email doesn’t work and no one answers the phone. What do I do?

I recently had an exact problem happen to me through AW*gcoffer.com Trafalgar Squ. I had done a "free" trial & they only charged a processing and handling fee of 4.99. I then saw later I was charged $119 & went about with filling out an "unauthorized charge" paper to get a dispute. The bank says they can't do anything because it probably said to return after a certain amount of days, although I don't remember reading anything like that. I'm not sure how to go about it anymore due to the bank saying they can't help. I tried looking the website up & I don't have the product on me right now to look it up either. I have no phone number & no way of contacting whoever pulled the money from my account. Any advice?

Hi there!! I just signed up for a free trial for garcinia Cambogia pill, stupid decision on my part.. I noticed in my email after my order was placed for one charge of 4,95$ and soon after an other item that I never wanted for 5.95$. My gut feeling told me something wasn't ok. I called the toll free number in the email a knew right away it was a scam. Right after that call, I contacted my credit card company and cancelled my credit card. My advise to everyone is too cancel your credit card and refuse future orders. Good luck

This company is a scam!!!!!!! They say 14 day trial, by time it gets shipped to you its 5-7 days and then they charge you for the product which was supposed to be a free trial! $89.95 per bottle! in order to get your money back you need to send back the entire bottle! LOL! What a joke

If you know of a scam, please report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

Did you get any money back? They didn't want my second bottle which was not even opened and I had 48 pills left unused in the first bottle. Are they off the hook for a total of over $160.00? I'd like us to really bombard this outfit with our comments and see if it might get some attention!!! I've posted my comments in another post so you can read it.

If you want law enforcement to know about your complaint, go to FTC.gov/complaint and report what happened. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

was wanting to know if someone will tell me will after they have refunded my money on my card and have an e-mail saying the account is closed will they or do they the next month charge your card again I would just cancel it and might just go ahead and do it but I have several things taken out every month it would be a hastle but wouldn't be nothing like this if they keep on charging your card this it has only been about 2 weeks now since the refund and suppossedly closed account

Watch out for Bella Fleur Skin Cream! I paid $4.95 for a FREE SAMPLE of the anti-wrinkle cream, and they used my CC number to send me another jar of the stuff, charging me almost $200 for the total of 2 jars! There was nothing on the web about signing up to receive this stuff every month, and I had a hellava time getting the account cancelled. You better believe I will NEVER, EVER sign up for a free anything again! Those two jars cost me over $80! And I am sending the second one back. What a horrible way to get people's money! The stuff is no better than anything I have ever used. DON'T DO IT!

You can file a complaint about this with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

I just ordered a free trial from Garcinia. 15 days after, I get a credit card billing of $84.00. WHAT!!!I called and they said I did not cancel before the 15 days. It said FREE - and what is the definition of FREE? You should not own anybody except for the shipping the you signed up for. Nothing was said in the initial application that we have to call within 15 days to cancel. All these fine prints should be up front before we push that button in our computer. Also, nothing was signed that our credit card will be automatically charged after for re-orders. I still am trying to get my money back.

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

Blog comments don't go into the database.

I was a victim of this scam. I felt so stupid for falling for it because once it happened and I researched it, it seemed everyone knew it was a scam. I ordered green coffee and garcinia combogia diet pills. It was $3.95 shipping for both and I though that was it. Two weeks later, they charged my $177. I was like what the hell?? So I researched it and found that it was a scam. I spent a half hour looking for the phone number of these people and eventually found it on my bank account statement. I called them and waited like ten minutes to talk to an actual person. When I did, it was some Indian guy, which led me to believe that this company isn't even based out of the U.S. I explained my situation to him and he told me "We will cancel your account and not charge you further." Well, I got very angry and was like "Don't you dare cancel my account until you refund me for things that I did not authorize." We were fighting (mostly me yelling and this guy and him saying yes ma'am) for about twenty minutes until he said that he would give me a full refund. I made sure that he sent me an email saying this, and that my account would be cancelled, so I had it in writing. I also will be going to my bank to explain the situation and make sure that if that company ever tries to take money out again that it will be denied. Moral of the story: Research before you buy!! I felt so stupid and it's likely that a lot of people don't get their money back. Be careful!

Can someone tell me the contact info for these morons my sister ordered this product via my bank card and over drafted my account I need to speak to someone she claims no paperwork came with pills. Not happy. Anyone have a phone number?

The press release about the FTC action has more information about the group of marketers the FTC sued.

Got scammed......free trial not true....got charged two times, one for 49.95 and 93.57. Right away called my credit card company, and he got on it right away.... Come to find out this happens all the time... Plus was on hold for 2 hour... That was upsetting

Scammed by Metabo. Paid shipping for a "free trial". 14 days later two charges of $89.00 appeared on my credit card. I called to complain and was offered a 30% credit. Disputed the charge with my credit card company. This company should be shut down!!!

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

Blog comments don't go into the database.

Here is a warning. Do not purchase anything or any product from Metabo Garcinia or Metabo Green Coffee Cleanse. They are scammers. I ordered the trial products of each bottle for a shipping charge. There was nothing on the site that said they would auto ship. A month later they re charged me and took the money out of my credit card. I tried numerous times to call the number on the bottle and numbers listed on both websites and kept a log of each call...Never did anyone ever pick up the phone. I held on hold once with music playing and a automated voice saying your call is important to us...please stay on the line...and no one ever answers the phone ever. I finally went back thru my emails and found the email from them when I originally purchased the product and emailed them. Got an answer and they wanted they told me they would send me a courtesy refund of 50% within 2 to 5 business days. I didn't see any money go into my account....emailed them again. They give me some bs story that I did not let them know I would agree to that 50 percent refund....lmao. Are you freaking kidding me. Their email to me never stated I needed to contact them again to proceed with 1/2 of a refund. I am totally livid. Every one beware. I am going to make sure this gets out on blogs all over the internet. Im furious!

These are useful details for a complaint.  Please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint. Your complaints help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies bring scam artists to justice. We cannot address complaints if they are submitted through the blog comments.

You also may find help information in our consumer article, Disputing Credit Card Charges.

I am in the UK and this is happening EVERY day by these scammers and nothing is being done! The offer is for UK residents only but they are being conducted from the USA and products come via Cyprus - these people need to be stopped, they are causing misery all over the USA and UK and I wonder where else ? Maybe they have a Global income because they use and change many of the companies names - In the UK I have found 13 up until now and only started investigating seriously this morning ! Why are our Trading Standards in both our countries dragging their feet? I can trace all these complaints back to 2013.. It has even been highlighted in our UK Watchdog apparently. Please Trading Standards help protect your consumers ! I thought that was why these bodies were introduced in the first place.

I cancelled my Debit card Browning Solutions,Inc green coffee and garcinia cambogia.They called I told them I had developed a digestive problem had not opened the package and will mail it back at my own expense. They hung up on me immediately charged my card and mailed another one.

You can report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

I signed up for a diet pill and I'm havingredients trouble getting ahold of the company I went through. My card has been canceled but how am I sure I still won't be charged.

You see free with postage. Next your charge $79.95 and when you call them they claim you clicked on agreement. I know better than to check a box without reading first. They refunded half back but I want all refunded. Should I call credit card co or report them??

If you are charged without your permission, contact the company If the company will not fix the problem, you can call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Ask the credit card company to reverse the charge because you did not agree to the charge.

If a company charged you without your permission, you can  report it to the FTC. If the company gives you a refund of half your money, or all your money, you can tell the FTC in your complaint.

Call company back until you get a old woman. I cried a lot and got everything back except $25.

I got charged with almost $400 worth of charges plus over draft fees from my bank. I had to call the tiny print phone # on each bottle to only get 35% of my money back and wait for my bank to dispute each case to try to get the rest of my money back. I even offered to send the unopened product back and they didn't want it back! I'm disabled i can't afford over half my check going to these ppl! So out of almost $400 I'll be getting $116 back! Hopefully my bank will get the rest.. No longer will i buy anything on line! O and don't forget to cancel your subscription or they will continue to charge you, i didn't know i was signing up for a subscription, just a trial offer...how very wrong i was. Get your confirmation number and if they give you a problem mention your bank will be looking into it, they change their tune real quick! Good luck

Pages

Leave a Comment