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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

Of course I had the same experience, FREE trial, just pay S&H
The Scam was ADVANCED SKIN and SKIN BALANCE .
I emailed them as soon as I realized it was scam the day after I ordered , so they WERE notified that I absolutely wanted NOTHING more from them, no subscribing
Yet they charged me 400 for these 2 products . My bank Aventura Visa reversed the charges for me , but only after I talked to three people. When I got a very kind and understanding woman, she immediately took those charges off. I'm still terrified
the SCAM company will just charge me again !! Perhaps I should get a new card ??

I was uncomfortable with my order a couple days after I submitted it so I found this blog and quickly called. Luckily since it has only been a few days I was able to cancel the order and close my account. Unfortunately I still am being charged the cost of shipping, but it is much better that $90+. I'm still checking my banking account frequently to make sure nothing happens.

Don't put in card info. Although just entering such a site makes you generate a whole bunch of random texts on your phone that don't go away. The same with phone calls

Thank goodness I looked this company up. I found these blogs and used the advice given and got my money back. These companies are just thieves disguised as a business. Thank you all for the good advice.

This company is scandalous and should be shut down. How do they get away with this?

I received an email from my Chase Visa asking if I made a $94.00 purchase from Joyware Garcinia. Since I did not recognize the name I said no and then choked it out. There was nothing in their "free offer" add saying I would be obligated to a subscription. Luckily, my Visa account declined the charge and checked with me. What a scam. They should be prosecuted.

Is canceling your free trial sufficient enough? i got the confirmation email saying it was cancelled, but now i'm afraid they are going to charge my card again. Lucklily, i caught it before the "free trial" was over, but the guy told me there would be a $9.95 restocking fee. i'm afraid i will get billed for the $80 or even the $160 i've heard people talk about. How do i know they got rid of my card information?!

The same happened with me. I cancelled the trail version and Paid around 17 dollars and now they say that the subscription is cancelled and wont be charged again. I am myself worried if they charge again.

I ordered this seven days ago and after reading reviews would like to return immediately (within the 14days). What number do I call to cancel? (It is listed as pure garcinia now in my email, but I can't find a customer service number online). And what address do I send it back to? (The fullfilment center in Akron, OH listed on the mailing envelope??)

Sometimes you can find contact information on the website, on the product or the product package, or on your credit card statement.

It is a complete scam and when you call customer service they are rude and they hang up on you, state that they can not cancel the pending transaction of $90 which has brought me into a negative balance! Every time I call back they just hang up on me!

Not to mention the bottle I did receive says it's NOT FDA APPROVED??!! Is that even legal?

These comments helped me so much! Fight for it! They can and will give you a full refund. I called and first they said they don't give refunds at all. But I pushed and she went and talked to her supervisor and came back offering 35%. I said no and mentioned I'd call the FTC and the BBB. and she said she'd talk to her supervisor again. She can back offering 50%. I said no again that wont work and she said something about how they don't offer full refunds and this is generous. I asked her to talk to them again and she came back with 75% back. Again I said no and that other people got full refunds and that I know she has to go through the steps for this. I asked to speak with her supervisor personally and she said ok then came back with a full refund amount. Make sure they cancel your card and email!

I need an address to ship this Hreen Coffee Clease to. Anyone have that information?

I thought I was still in the free trial period and had even made a calendar reminder to myself to call back to cancel on the last day. I almost forgot, but had remembered to call at 11PM just before I was heading to bed. 45 minutes on hold and a guy finally answered the phone. I said I want to cancel my order in the free trial and know why I was already charged for the orders when the free trial wasn't over and he proceeded to tell me the free trial was over the day before. Which was not true because I ordered on the 11th of June and called in on the 25th of June. I guess they count down to the hours because he said I should have called at 2:10 pm or something crazy. I said I made a note to call and cancel on this day and was staying up to make sure it was done. He proceeded to argue with me. I said regardless, the money was withdrawn from my account already this evening, but I don't have any money in that account (debit card) so their charges made it $175+ overdrawn. He said it didn't make because i agreed to the terms. I said you can't get money from something that doesn't have any but you can save me and you the bank charges. He then offered me a 35% refund. I said no, I need a full refund. I explained the major family health issues we've experience the last month and that my husband is in the hospital and not working. He then came back and said 50% refund. And I said really? I just told you all of the stuff we are dealing with and something you think I have 50% of the charges to spend? I said no and then he offered me a 75% refund. I said no I need 100%. I said even at 75% you are not going to get any money from my bank account because I don't have any money to put in to pay the charges. The bank will reject the charges and it will just end up costing me and your company more money. He finally said I will have to get approval from my supervisor- put me on hold for a minute- came back and said he will refund 100%. I said thank you so much and he said you're welcome, your account is cancelled and have a nice day. I stopped him before he could hang up to get the confirmation numbers for the refund for BOTH charges because he only tried to give me one at first.
While i got a full refund (or should hopefully), this company feels like a total scam with the partial refund stuff they are doing. That really doesn't seem ethical to me. I also think the way they show very little mercy for real life situations unless you really push it and throw some tears around. Definitely not the most ethical of business operations. I won't ever be signing up or ordering a "free trial" product again. Terrible experience.

Please tell the FTC about your experience. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. Go to FTC.gov/complaint. You can provide information about the company, what it promised, and what you got, and what happened when you called to cancel. Thank you.

Omg. I was charged $170 andI had called them and originally settled for 35% refund. But then I ran across this post and mentioned the FTC and BBB and it totally worked! They will try to offer you 50% and then 75%, but if you mention those key words and just tell them "NO. I want a FULL REFUND of 100% or I am filing a claim with the FTC and BBB" then they will refund you in full. And if the representative won't help you, then ask to speak with a supervisor. SO happy to have run across this post. It was super helpful! Thank you so much!

If you are bad at confrontation, you can solve this via email. I mentioned a lawsuit, the FCP and the BBB and received an email the next day stating I would be issued a full refund. Plus, I have this in writing in case they try to go back on their word. I wouldn't be surprised if they did, considering how unethical this "company" has been so far. Keep pushing them though. They don't deserve your money.

I ordered the trial for this back in 2014. I JUST received a bill from collections for $139 and this is the first time I'm hearing of any of this and I never received any additional products.

What's the number for the choice diet because I never signed up I don't even have an email from this company and I have a 87 dollar charge from them today I am so upset please help

Hi, Thanks for posting your suggestions here. I am from Sydney. I have ordered combogia in April and received 1pk.Ad today I received another one.Then I logged into my bank account to see if I am charged for that.And then realised that I haven charged since April. Till today they charged me more than $500 Aud I have emailed them. Can you please help me how should I get my 100% refund. Note: what is FTC and BBB ? Thanks

Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau - I think these might be USA companies only. I wish you luck on getting money back. Friends, I don't know you but I, like you, got duped. I think there is great advice in here but while they TOLD me I would get 100% back I was still worried about other charges. I called my credit card company and the guy told me he sees this EVERY DAY. He also told me that they will NOT refund your money and they will add extra charges. Don't take my word for it but contact your credit card company to dispute the charge. He will start a claims process that will take up to 60 days to file but that there is insurance for things like this. Good luck, I wish you well and wish these creeps would get a real job and EARN their money for a living rather than take it away from hard-working Americans (and Canadians and Australians).

I was told I needed to have my bank call and they would refund my charge. I knew that was incorrect so I called the bank. They are canceling my debit card and reversing the pre auth. The number on the invoice does not match the customer service number on my bank statement,nor do the names match. It's a pain to change debit cards but at least it won't happen again.

Calmly and politely insist on a 100% refund and mention the FTC action. I also mentioned the failure to notify the consumer prior to debit.

O YES I am dealing with the same SAME situation. We are being charged NOW. They actually threatened US if we stop paying for the product. that we would be sued for bank fraud if we try to contest it. I'm like um nooo. I have the right to stop a subscription period. I have received one shipment the initial one and been charged another fee that I can literally SEE on my statement and they swear they haven't charged me with me looking at it in real time on my app. These people are the absolute worst. I will never trust any online site again unless I have and use a one time use visa. like a preloaded thing. Our bank is useless only saying they will dispute the charge nothing about getting the money back. These operations prey on people who are desperately seeking an aid to assist them as they are trying to get back in control of their life and help ease the way. I may have to just eat the loss for the time being but I have cancelled my debit card and got a new one so I know they cant access my account anymore as they do not have the actual bank account number... I will STILL watch my account over the next few months to ensure these vampires don't get anymore. good luck to all of you. I sure feel your pain!!!

I thought I received this ageless creame after I finished a survey, just pay shipping and handling. After 4 days they charged my bank account 2 $89.00 amounts. Which bounced my account and because I didn't know they did that I bounced even more checks. I was popped 4 $34.00 charges on that and it just cascade down the slope after that. Thanks to my bank they waved those fees. But they would never send me any refund. I think I will try again! Criminals .

This is a big rip off. Spread the word. The pills dont work but they are more than happy to bill your credit card. These companies need to be shut down. I'm out money I can't afford. Sad world we live in

I had this same problem this week,they touched my account
for that amount and that all I had in there for the week,I'm so mad.they need to spot sending stuff that we don't want.if this continues I'm going to have to talk to my bank for them not to take money out or just go change everything.

I just called and used the same script of speaking with my lawyer and contacting the FTC it worked immediately. My money was refunded. Do not give up.

Try finding a number to call them for a couple of days. My bank gave me a number they were given. When I called it I got a Nijia Sweeper CSR. She gave me another number that went nowhere. Then google and seen the number posted on this site. I mentioned joining the FTC suite and got nowhere. I requested to cancelled my account and asked for an email to confirm and was told they do not have the ability to send me an email notification. So when the. All ended I called my bank back and had my current debit card cancelled and was told to have all my previous accounts to have auto accepted removed. I was told just because you get a new card banks will allow previous allowed companies to continue to remove funds. So why it may be difficult to reset my precious accounts. I do not want to lose any additional money from this company.

While the next day I did receive an email showingy account was cancelled but no confirmation number was given. Still do not trust them.

I ordered beauty creams online for just a purchase price. They came in a small box with no paperwork attached and when I ordered there was no commitment or I would not have ordered. Lo and behold when I got my bank statement they had gone in and charged 87 .95. I have never received another item, in checking, today, they went into my account again. The fraud department at the bank said I am responsible because I gave my number out. It is bad enough to have con artists, but doublley bad to deal with stupid bankers. It is the weekend so I haven't been able to call what appears to be "today's health". and "amaz". Any thoughts are appreciated.

(888) 375-8698 this is the phone number of the company that sell me the product I was charged a little over $8 to begin for 18 days trial there was nowhere in the in the thing that says 18 days trial start the moment you get you click submit I clicked submit and my 18 days. I believe it's in this trial supposed to be 18 days you have the product well it's not I was charged less than 18 days I have the product 160. That did not that's not working for me when I call to talk to them about it I got hung up on twice by the representative yippee this company really know how to make money out of the backbone of hard working people

I'm dealing with the same issue these other have talked about a free trial it was not made clear to
Me that it was a trial period. Some now I am out twice I was charged once 89.95 and the next day a charge of 89.15 and there is no way I was told that I would be refunded. I will never support this and will tell anyone I know if they are thinking of trying this DONT. Beware

Hi,sorry to hear not only one scammed. Has cost me $395.37.I am a widow, trying to pay house off before I retire. I'm 61 now, and only have 4 years to go and still owe, $180,00. So don't need to be ripped off, by horrible scammers like them. They charged me for 3 bottles of garcinia, and only received 2 bottles. Did send email to return bottles but no reply. Just before tried their email, still advertising free bottle. Went to shops and tried again, free bottle taken away. Guess they know they are scammers. I do have their email address. support @ garcinia, I live in Australia. I do have phone numbers, (866)3194197, (305)6279951, 03 97064448 and 01457820025. Not sure how I can contact them, think they all overseas numbers. Wish you all luck. Learnt a lesson, be careful. If anyone has Australia number, please let me know. Should be away to stop horrible people like them. And we should all get our money back!!!!

So if i say im going to ftc i could possibly get a refund?

I was scammed and after reading the comments on this pahe I received a full refund for what I was charged. I called LIFEGLO at 888-334-8170 told them that I would like to dispute these charges ($84.95 And $79.95) that were charged to my account. The rep. said that he could refund 50% of those charges and I told him that I will need to get a lawyer to properly dispute these charges and then he said hold on let me speak to my supervisor. He came back after 2mins. And said that he was going to refund the full amount as they do not want to start any legal proceedings. Total call time was about 8 mins.

DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING LESS THE THE FULL REFUND!!

Does it matter what number I call as long as I call a number listed or associated with them?

Just keep going and insisting on 100% refund or you would report them to FTC. I also named a bunch of other companies that auto ship and confirm always first that you want your order. Report to FTC made them snap to it.

I got a survey from costco and after doing it they said free trail all i have to pay for is shipping, ordered one bottle, got 2 bottles and saw that they charged me shipping for the second bottle did not mind because it was total os $12....then i decided to go online and see if the product works i started seeing all the scam and the $90 charge people where complaining about. I called the number on the booted (1888)255-1750 to ask them if the $90 charge is true they told me that it is i signed up for membership and the $90 is for monthly refill i was so pissed because it did not say that online....asked them to cancel that charge of $90 because i don't want to be charged that in the future they told me i have to send the bottle back and give them the tracking number before they cancel. So i paid for shipping to get it, did not use it and paid another $12 to send it back so annoying. I called costco and they told me that they don't send such surveys a lot of their customers have been complaining i called my bank and i had to cancel my visa debit so they don't charge me because they said my account has been canceled for providing them tracking number but i still don't trust them i will be so pissed in the coming days if i see this idiots charge my account. Why the hell will i pay $90 every month for diet pills???????????

I was just charged for two bottles of the product. I never received a sample and when I went to the bank, the representive said this happens alot. She said I should see a refund in 48 hrs. After 1 week I contacted my bank and they said a letter was coming in the mail from the company and that they had a signature of a contract I signed. I never signed anything. I did not get a refund for both payments of 89.84 and am behind with my bills. I called the number and was asked for my cc number. I wouldn't give it and the girl hung up on me.

I was on hold on and off for over an hour. I tried giving a sob story about how the 84.95 overdrew my account and I needed it refunded to feed my child, I was offered 50% of my money back. I kept saying I needed a full refund. Was then offered 65% of my money back. I was hung up on and transferred several times. I mentioned the BBB will be contacted because I need my money back and he said "Oh no, we don't want you to go to those extremes, let me put you on another brief hold and see what I can do." He came back and said he would be able to give me a full refund it will take place within 2-7 business days. 877-753-1035 is the number I called.

Omg. So they really ARE scammers! I bought their stuff a few days ago and when I found out that they will charge me 89.00 something a month, I called them to immediately cancel. They tried to persuade me to buying it by saying it's popular, and there have been positive feedback.
But I told them to cancel. And I kept persisting them to an cancel. So they did. The last guy I talked to was the one for the stupid coffee. Then he told me the confirmation number.

I ended up writing it down. Then this morning around 5 I had two emails saying that they are confirmed and then the gmail told me to be careful because the message is to steal my identity.

What do I do?

I'm new and young to all of this. So what should I do first to stop them? Can I get a new bank account and debit card?

Should I call them and tell them to cancel once again? Or should I contact my bank and tell them what happened? Please help. I'm scared and I don't want them getting away with whatever bad intention they have.

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.

You also can report your experience to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The details in your complaint may help investigators. Watch this video to learn more.

Ugh, I fell for this! I contacted the company which in return will not reverse the charges and even contacted my credit card company. Is there any other way to handle this? Due to the information the company gave my credit card i will not get refunded.

I was just refunded the full 100% thats they took from me!!! DO NOT GIVE UP TRYING!!! At first they told me that they could only do 25% refund and I agreed to it but after reading some comments on here I immediately called back and DEMANDED a 100% refund. I was charged $89.88 on my card and they refunded me the full price back after I threatened to call authorities. they said my money should be back in my account in 7-10 business days and if that is a lie I will be calling back. They also told me I couldnt return an unopened product and then the second person told me I could. It's all a scam and a bunch if liars! FIGHT FOR YOUR MONEY

Don't be sucked in by offer of a "free sample - just pay shipping". True you are sent a bottle and your credit card is charged $4.99 for shipping. But the next month your credit card is charged over $100. Because I don't wait for the end of my billing cycle to check my card activity I discovered this fraud. I phoned immeditely and after much effort I got them to agree to refund the exorbinate charges against my card. These people don't even have a real address. The one I was given to mail the product back to is a UPS store. CONSUMER ALERT!

I am having the same problem!!! And I just read al of this and called back after I already got refunded the 50% and tried to whole I'm just going to call me lawyer in the morning and sue for this scam and they still wouldn't give it all back to me!!!! And then all of a sudden in the middle of her talking the call went silent and then hung up on me!!! I'm out $80 and the tricks aren't working for me to get a full refund. :(

I want to thank each and every one of you that had the courage to be honest with your remarks and comments to help the rest of us. I was stunned when I woke up Thursday morning and checked my banking account, only to find out that approximately $95 had been withdrawn from my account under the name "BNA*MYGARCINIA." I WAS LIVID! But because I took the time to read others' past experience, I did just that. I called them and I got a young lady named "Jane," who was extremely professional and courteous. I told her I just got off the phone with my bank and they suggested I call the Fraud Department and provide them with information and that I planned on taking legal action. In less than 30 seconds, Jane said "No problem, I will place your money back in your account." In about 1-2 minutes, I received an e-mail that said: "This email is to inform you that we have refunded the amount of $94.19 back to your payment method originally used." It didn't appear that day, but it was back in my account Saturday morning. I'm grateful for sites like this where people post the truth about what happened to them in the hope that it will prevent it from happening to someone else. Thank you!

I reported to my bank before I called, the scammers, they refunded my money now two months later CHASE BANK charged me again because the scammers said product was delivered to my house. I told them I never received any (I really didn't) and chase still said they could not help me. Now I am out of $180. I called 1-888-540-7476 and they told me sorry read the fine print. I'm so pissed. I can't believe CHASE even let them do this to me.

You can report a problem with a business to the FTC at  FTC.gov/complaint. You can report a problem with a bank to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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