Strings attached to some “risk-free” trial offers

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Spot a good deal on a skin care product online? Some ads say you can try a product out for free before committing to it. But know this: “free” trials aren’t always free — they might come with hidden fees and other strings attached.

 

Case in point, the FTC has charged several companies that sell skin care products — including AuraVie, Dellure, LéOR Skincare, and Miracle Face Kit — for deceiving people about their “risk-free” trials. According to the FTC, the companies told people they’d need to give their credit or debit card information to pay a small $4.95 shipping fee, but people ended up with close to $100 in charges.

And it gets worse. Sellers of these products illegally signed people up for recurring product shipments — meaning even more charges — without asking them. They also made it extremely difficult for people to cancel their memberships and avoid charges, the FTC alleges, and lied about being accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an “A-“  rating. The truth? They aren’t accredited, and have earned an “F” rating.

Has this — or something like this — happened to you? We want to hear about it. File a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint. You also should contact the company directly to resolve the situation. If that doesn’t work, dispute the charge with your credit card company.

If you’re tempted to sign up for a “free” trial offer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Do some research online. Search for the name of the product and words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam” to see what others are saying.
  • Read the fine print. Look for hidden fees and details on how to cancel shipments. You might find them in the fine print in ads or on sites for the products.
  • Monitor your credit and debit card statements. If you’re charged for something you didn’t order, you can work on disputing those charges.

Find more tips in our “free” trial offers article.

Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Comments

Yes it happened to me. I did not mind the $4.95 and the $5.95 but then it went up to $149.00 and it was going to come every month that's when I went to my credit card company and told them I did not give them the OK to bill me for the regular size and I did not sign up for every month. No problem with my credit card I disputed it and they took care of everything for me.

I was taken by one of the trial offers, total cost on my conformation e-mail showed $4.95, but was then charged $89.79 on my credit card and then sent another bottle and they charged me $89.79 again and signed me up for auto shipments. This company is Garcinia Cambogia Burn. They send you a shipment without any type of paperwork to show you your credit card has been charged and on the address it only show Fulfillment Center,Shipping Dept, P O Box 61553,Savannah, GA. You had better read the real fine print, because this nothing but a ripoff!

If you were charged for something you didn't order, contact your credit card company. Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Blog comments don't go into the database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I got taken by the same company! When I tried to cancel they offered me a 50% discount. They were very nice until I told the no thanks then they were very rude. They should be charged with fraud.

How did you contact them? I'm trying to figure it out. Will file a complaint and contact my credit card company!

I ordered the free trial for garcinia cambogia and 30 day cleanse. And now found charges for $89.95 & $87.99. How can I track this down to get my money back? Have not received any more products as of yet. And I don't want them. They don't work.

You can contact your credit card company to dispute the charge. Some people found contact information for the company on their credit card bill or on the product bottle or packaging.

Same company got me. Did you ever get a refund ?

I clicked on a link through Good Housekeeping, a company I thought I could trust. CHECK YOUR BILL EVERY MONTH. I was taking care of my dying brother. When I looked I had more than $500 on my credit card. I thank heavens for VISA. I have done some research and these people are all over the nation. At least one state AG has sued them. Looks like two of the principals are in Florida. They need to be shut down. I know several people who got scammed with the same type thing, and they did not pursue. Don't be ashamed. Write and call everyone - especially your credit card.

Order "free trial" from Skinology advertisement on facebook. I got the free trial after paying shipping and then in about 3 weeks I got billed for $92.43. I called them, finally got through, to a heavily accented telemarketer. I asked to have my money returned but they said it was in the "terms and conditions" that after 30 day trial, I would be charged for the product monthly. Most legitimate companies will say these rules up front, so that you're aware of what to expect, and then accept them. The rules were on a separate page and so you didn't think to even check it out. The telemarketer kept asking what my beauty routine was with my skin, and what was my goal with using their product. I told him that this had nothing to do with my request for a refund, but he kept asking the same question over and over. He kept saying that he "understood" my concern and I kept telling him that he did not, he was not listening at all. He offered a 25% reduction in my bill, then a 50% reduction and then a 75% reduction and I asked to speak to his supervisor and I wanted his company's business license # and he said he couldn't do that. After I started getting very angry and loud, I told him I would call my bank right now and have a 3 way conversation with them that he backed off and offer me a full refund. I got a confirmation number, so we'll see where this goes. Keep away from them at all costs.

Please be aware that there is also a company called STYLEFORLUX that is pulling a similar scam RIGHT NOW on the internet. I had my first brush with them when I responded to a 'quick survey' i saw when I was on the AMAZON website. I believed at the time that this survey was associated with Amazon.. it turn out this was not the case. The survey form I saw was some type of phishing form the company uses to lure prospects. Styleforlux were offering A 'FREE DESIGNER WATCH GIFT' if you complete their 'survey'. They ask you to pay $5.99 for postage just to get your credit card information. Then 14 days later they start taking $98.00 every month from your credit or debit card. The watches they send you are poor quality watches you would pay $5.00 or less for in Walmart. They are so prolific they advertise everywhere so that more and more people fall for their scams. Their other sites include NEWCHICONLINE.COM, STYLINGLUXURY.COM - please be warned and warn others or you and many more will get burned. I am still trying to get my money back as I write this. These people know that it'll take time for the law to catch up with them and even then they will re-emerge later with another type of product. Hope this helps someone.

These are useful details for a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Your report will go into the database that law enforcement uses for investigations. Blog comments don't go into the database.

Healthy Garcinia Gambogia Pro is definitely a scam. Free samples offered at $4.95 are not free. They will charge you $89.99 per bottle unless you return them unopened within 14 days. You can get the same product at Walgreens for $15.00. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS SCAM!!!!

What did you do to stop it?? I just got scammed buy them too and already opened the first package??

What to do when I only agree to pay for S&H turns out getting charged this ridiculous amount of $140

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.

On a similar note, I received calls from the same scam artists using two different phone numbers: (602)338-9471 and (872)713-9059. They call and don't leave a message. When calling back, you get a recorded message from a woman with a very heavy Asian accent, stating "Thank you for contacting Customer Service. Your call is very important to us, please stay the line and a representative will be with you shortly. Yesterday evening I called the first number and after a live person (another woman with a heavy Asian accent) came on the phone, she starts talking about a free trial for a skincare product. I advised I had no interest in their "product" and immediately asked to have my phone number removed from their database.
Just about an hour ago, I received another call from the second number; the minute I stated they'd called from an Arizona phone number and to delete my contact information, the phone call disconnected.
This scam is also similar to those calls which claim the interest rate can be reduced on your credit card--and nine times out of ten you don't even have an account.

I received my "free 14 trial" 7 days after ordering. I called to CANCIL and make sure none of the product was shipped to me for the extravagant amount of $140.+ and was told the product was not free. There was a $19.+ fee for me opening the bottles of the weight loss product. I was livid. I did not open one of the bottles and I will happily pay for the postage back to them. So it cost me $16.80 for my free trial. Ladies and Gentleman another lesson I forgot my Mom tried to teach me . IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE....IT PROBABLY IS JUST THAT! Thank you for letting me vent. JMe

Got a package from fulfilment center po box 61553 Savannah GA and I never subscribed to anything from them

another rip off company to be aware of is: Le Jeune skin. based in california. was a free trial. ok paid the shipping , even though they charged an extra amount for insurance which i did not ok. got worse then saw an amount of $183 charged for the FREE sample. wasn't even for extra shipments but the sample which they then said was for the "full size" sample i received. either it is free or a sample can't be cost and full size all at the same time. am disputing amount with my credit card company. free sample company says i "signed" a binding agreement with them. if so, was so itty bitty i did not see. feel like an idiot, hope it turns out ok for me. if not, an expensive lesson learned

If you've been wronged by a free trial offer, you can report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I received a package of Garcinia Cambogia in the mail today from PO BOX 61553 Fulfillment Center. I never ordered something from them, nor have I ever heard of them until today.

Me too! What are you doing about it?I don't know who to call. I've been receiving bottles for months and don't know how to return them or contact them.

Do not order Neuro Fuse's - FREE TRIAL without reading carefully the FINE PRINT.
This Free Trial is a Scam and will cost you --
Cancellation in extremely difficult and so is getting ever your money back they deducted from your bank account.

Thank you for sharing your experience. Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Blog comments don't go into the database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I have received two items from people, I didn't order either one of these products. How to I send them back. One I opened but not the there one.
Ann Pleas help me with my problem because I can't afford this items. Their was nothing on how to send it back. Thanks.

You don't have to return the items. If someone sends you something that you didn't order, you can keep it. You don't have to pay for it or send it back.

Federal laws prohibit someone from mailing unordered merchandise to people and then demanding payment. This FTC article tells more about unordered merchandise.

I have been scammed from this FulfillmentvCenter, PO Box 61553 Savannah, GA, 31419

ALPHA ADVANCED TESTOSTERONE BOOSTER. Paid $4.95 For a trial bottle, it has no benefit value,,and I have had it sent to me again an charged my debit card. How can I stop this scam? I am going to bank on Monday December 5 2016. How can I get my money back and stop these thieves. Please text me at Facebook Messenger, (850) xxx xxxx. Please help and respond by text. Thank you for your kind consideration. John

Please file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Contact the company directly to resolve the situation. You can also work with your bank to dispute the charges placed on your debit card.

Received cosmetics NURIVA from Fulfillment Center, Savannah, Ga. Not ordered.

Place Order from TV add only pay for shipment $4.95 for trial order. Received free trial on 12/12/16. Now 1/3/17 charge 86.19 and 99.19. I did not place an order,

You can contact the company directly to resolve the situation. If that doesn’t work, dispute the charge with your credit card company.  Please file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint.

I ordered the "14 day risk free trial offer" from Nuriva/Renaderm on 3/26/17 for $4.95 for 2 products. Received the shipment on 3/30/17. I saved the terms and conditions linked to my order. The email to cancel read - support@nurivaskincare.com which I emailed 3 times for cancellation. On 4/09/17 my account was charged $99.15 and $94.67. I called Nuriva 1-844-591-7236 and they said the wrong email was listed and unfortunately they could not issue a refund because they never received and email from me. I saved all 3 of those as well. I will be calling my financial institution in the morning to dispute the charges. Any other advice?

Please see the FTC publication, Disputing Credit Card Charges, for more information about the dispute process.

I ordered 3 items and I only received one item. will be getting the last two or?

These companies are such a rip off. When I complained to my credit card company, they sent copies of fine print and shipping numbers and my card charged me back for the shipments!!!!! I have returned the products, but they still keep coming!!!!!! I am going to write refused on them and give them back to the post office!

same complaint. I received a call from my bank about this kind of scam as soon as I was charged 4.95. I cancelled right then so I would be happy just to return the product and pay shipping but again no number, no address.

I also have the same problem with CHRISTIE BRINKLEY AUNTHENTIC SKINCARE. I received an email informing me that I received a free item and I have to choose between Garcinia Cambogia and this CHRISTIE BRINKLEY AUTHENTIC SKINCARE. So, I chose the CHRISTIE BRINKLEY AUTHENTIC SKINCARE because I'm going to give it to my mum. At the end of the selection process, I was told to pay $1.99 for the shipping fee. For me, it's ok because what is $1.99 and it turned out I was paying in US dollars & not Australian dollars (I'm from Australia, by the way). So I was charged $2 Aud. something. Still, it's ok. But when the products arrived, (Yes! Products! 3 items arrived. I thought I was lucky because I was still thinking they are still free products.) I opened the box and it contained 3 items: 2 of the same product & 1 another product, still for skincare and also came with a letter that says "This is not a bill" but in fact it is a bill for your next payment and some informations for your next delivery time. I was so shocked because I didn't order or buy something from them. I only get this product because I was told it's free. Then, they said in the letter that I can cancel my order. So, I called them and yeah, they cancelled my order but I still have to pay for the products they had sent me. I told them that it's free that's why I got them and I was told, "THERE'S NOTHING FREE" in this world. So I told them that I'm going to send this back to them and I was told that I will pay more if I will send this back to them. I was told that it's better to pay the amount of $139.90US (this will be nearly $200AUD) than send it back to them. I don't want to pay & I want to send these products back to them.

Bella Dior a new one just ripped me off this past month !! They skip a step though instead of what you think are samples they say it is the actual regular size and charge you for both an eye cream and a serum for wrinkles ! Debit card cancelled before the Bank let them take the money I told them it was a scam they knew it and still allowed them to take saying a Federal Regulation E allows them to do this ? True or not true ? Never has a Bank I have had ignored a scam I am fighting like heck to get my money back ! 184.26 in two payments plus the shipping and handling fees are also in two payments !!

You can report a problem you had with a financial service to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB works with consumers to get responses from financial institutions.

I'm one of the scam victims. If you purchased the xxx alpha and xxx force, call 18448021609 to cancel and ask for a full refund. You may need to hold the line for quite awhile. I got a 75% refund. Good luck

I am still in the process of a 14 day free trial and called to cancel but now they want me to pay the shipping and handling back and a restocking fee?!?! I can't find a website for them or even the page that i was originally at!
I've emailed asking for their Terms of Service or a Website but still waiting for a response. This was supposed to be a risk free trial and it is most definitely not a risk free trial!
And whats worse is that I tried their product and it did the opposite of what it claimed to do and when I told them that all they said was sorry! So much for 100% satisfaction!

Same song, next verse.... company goes by OTASKINADVANCECREAM or CORE skin care. Phone 866.845.0115 Same drill... free sample for $.99 & $4.97. There are addresses in Wyoming & call centers in California. They are also listed with:

I neglected to mention that I found a charge for $89.87 on my charge card a couple of weeks later. I filed a complaint with Chase VISA's dispute resolution section but they declined to dismiss the charge.

I was charged $4.95 shipping for a "Free Trial" of Allumiderm Face Cream.
I saw an endorsement in the ad from Dr. Pricilla Chan, MD , wife of Mark Zuckerberg. Then Allumiderm charged me $89.95 a few days later. I called them and said that I was out of town working and had not tried the sample yet, or opened the box. I asked them to remove the $89.95 from my bill, and do not send me any more products. They refused, and laughed at me. They said I had missed my 14 day trial period from ordering the sample, and therefore must be charged $89.95 with no possibility of a refund.
After my dispute, Allumiderm sent B of A Credit card was given 9 pages to dispute my claim against this company. So they refused to complete the chargeback to the Skin Restore Salve merchant.
I never knew that I was making a big mistake to try a "14 day Risk Free Trial"
I later found a news story that said that Pricilla Chan, MD did not endorse any products.

You can report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give goes 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.

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