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A costly low-cost trial offer

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You’ve probably seen online ads with offers to let you try a product – or a service – for a very low cost, or even for free. Sometimes they’re tempting: I mean, who doesn’t want whiter teeth for a dollar plus shipping? Until the great deal turns into a rip-off. That’s what the FTC says happened in a case it announced today.

The defendants sold tooth-whitening products under various names, and hired other companies to help them market the products. These affiliate marketers created online surveys, as well as ads for free or low-cost trials – all to drive people to the product’s website. What happens next is so complicated that we created an infographic to explain it.

In short, once people ended up on the product’s website, they filled in their info, put in their credit card number, and clicked “Complete Checkout.” When people clicked this button they not only got the free trial of the one product, but were actually agreeing to monthly shipments of the product at a cost of $94.31 each month.

Next, another screen came up and people were asked to click “Complete Checkout” again. But the second screen wasn’t a confirmation screen for the trial of the product. Instead, by clicking this button people were actually agreeing to monthly shipments of a second product. So, what started as a $1.03 (plus shipping) trial of one product wound up being an unexpected two products at a very unexpected $94.31 each – for a total monthly charge of $188.96 plus shipping.

Trial offers can be tricky – and there is often a catch. If you’re tempted, do some research first, and read the terms and conditions of the offer very closely. Sometimes, however, marketers might simply try to trick you – and it can be hard to spot. Look again at the infographic…would you have known what charges were about to hit your credit card? If you use your credit card for a low-cost trial offer, be sure to check your credit card statement closely. If you see charges you didn’t authorize, contact the company and your bank immediately. And then tell us about it.

Tagged with: free trial, health, product, scam
Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Comments

I got scammed for that. Its charged my card 180$ this month alone!!!

I've been scammed so many times I've lost count. To date, I've managed not to lose money. It's been a hassle. I've had to cancel credit cards and even a bank account. Now, if I can't get it in a store, I don't buy. I've also learned not to trust anything or anyone. So pathetic we're all targets.

Ladies, Ladies please stop wasting your $. There is nothing in the world that can buy youth, no creams, lotions..etc...It is only hype to make you think/feel better about yourself and you are losing $ too. There are products in your kitchen you can use that do the same thing, and they may not smell fancy, but it'll do.Why do you think women and not men are targeted for these creams? Think about it...women do the most shopping...and these products con women into thinking it willm ake them more attractive.Save your $ for retirement, eat healthy, exercise, don't smoke, drink and you will have a better chance to staywell when you get older. No "youth skin cream" will ever do that for you.And wrinkles will come anyways-who cares? It's no gonna matter in the long run.
find other ways to stay healthy and you'll be better off. My sage advice from one who was "taken in" by the young skin cream hype.Do research. I could've had thousands in the bank because I wasted $ on products I really couldn't afford but believed it would make me "prettier". Don't believe it and keep your money in your wallet-you are going to need it later on.

Also don't use your bank credit card when any seller wants to take automatic payments from you.Use a prepaid Visa/Mastercard to pay for items from unknown sellers, make sure you get everything in writing, cancel when trial is over(keep track of it!) and it won't be automatically renewed(that I know of)and they won't have your personal bank card!Call the company, research them online before committing, find out where they are, look at reviews,etc...Use Reputable Sellers! Don't be taken in by Impulsive shopping. Use tried and true products/companies. Too many scammers and Cons out there!!!!

Same scam, different company name. Mine was lilum, a skin cream/serum. Just had to pay shipping. Couldn't get off website until I agreed to get Eye Serum also. I received the shipment in two separate boxes. Next month I received another shipment (2 boxes). Just a packing slip with this one also-no $ involved. In July I received another shipment - still no $ mentioned -- until I checked my charge card statement and found 2 separate charges each totaling almost $200.00. I found a number to call online and received a Return number to write on my return shipment. i haven't done so yet.

I got caught by a weight loss pill free trial, just shipping and handling. After $400 charges on my Master Card---which they investigated and calls to the merchant--I lost the money because they say I hit the agree box??????? I cancelled my Master card before I received any more charges. The Merchant and Master Card did not help. They acted like it was my fault!!!! Maybe they are right. But I learned a big lesson-----costly too. So sorry for those customers who lost money and needed it for food.
What goes around comes around.

ME ALSO VERY DISAPPOINTED IN MASTER CARD THEY WERE NO HELP I CANCELLED MY CARD HOPEFULLY THEY CAN NOT STILL CHARGE ME
FROM CANADA

I cancelled and closed the account .

I realize if it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true. These companies prey on our insecurities--many people would like to look better and that is the hook. They know what you want and they make it available at what seems to be a low price. At the end of the day I do not think most of them are financially well off despite the scam tactics. They scam us and they scam themselves.

I signed up for free cell phone service thru FreedomPop. I was doing this for a low-income disabled friend, and I also purchased the unlocked cellphone to set it up on. Four months later, I noticed a charge for $9.95 was poping up on my credit card every month. I called them, and they said I had opted for the Premium add-ons at sign up. I KNOW I did not purposly check that option, as the service isn't even for me, and the premium add-ons did not add any minutes. They were pleasant, and immediately discontinued the premium add-ons and the charges stopped. This is a "legitimate" cell phone service that does work, but MANY companies hide extra charges in the fine print and/or web site design. Read every word twice before clicking <accept>, even with reputable companies for legitimate products.

Lunalux is another company promoting this scam. I was able to get a partial refund

I ordered, paid and received a small size of a supplement advertised on Dr. Oz show. The supplement is called Intelleral distributed by Prazahealth in Scottsdale Arizona. I began to notice a charge for &69.65 on my bank account. I did not authorize these charges nor did I receive any product after the initial.

Will everyone please post the names of the crooks so we will all know. I want to compile a list maybe use to get some laws changes to make companies be more honest.

Do you have any information about The Healthy Back Institute? I just ordered the free, shipping only and gave them my American Express card number...they claim 90 days, 100% risk free

The FTC doesn’t have information about specific companies. But you can look at sites you trust that post ratings and reviews. You also can check out a company’s online reputation by searching for the company’s name with words like “scam,” “rip-off,” or “complaint.”
 

You also might be interested in reading the FTC article, Shopping Online.

"Please 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."

Wow, a lot of help that does. The companies use the banking system, ISP's etc. how hard could it be to get them. They hide their terms and conditions but hold you to them just by entering their site. You agree to not sue them in court or join in any class action against them. Unbelievably the supreme court has upheld these waivers. Now we have a former scam artist in the white house looking out for us.

I reported it and looks like I'm getting the FBI involved web site iccc

Clinamax herbal supplements does the same scam online . Shows one bottle for $4.95 total price and bills your card for over $96 . Their customer service hung up on me after claiming they had no info from my bank account and address or my name .

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

I work fraud operations in the credit card industry. At least ten percent of the calls I get every single day are for these scams. Avoid ANYTHING charging $4.95 as it's been my experience that this is what these con artists will almost always charge first time around. Once they have your card number you won't believe the depths they stoop to in order to continue charging it against your will even after we get involved.

Yes me too, They are just not clear on what the amount is going to be and how much this may cost you, should be on the front page so you know, then you would know it's not a scam. SeraFina got me!

Ordered free trial BLOSSEM from Christie Brinkley. Pay ship only. 1 wk later $60 REMOVED from bank. Tried to get refund, returned cream in 7/2016. Still no refund.

I think I also fell for the $4.95 wrinkle cream and the eye cream for $3.95 initial cost. When I was told it would be regular price of $90+ each, per month I said "no way". They countered "that is a promotional price".. We will offer you a discount of 75% each". Read the blogs by PhannyRose and Robbed and quickly cancelled both...in full. We'll see if they stop. Thanks!!!!

My wife ordered a sample of herbal pure hemp oil for $5.95 shipping. She ended up getting 3 shipments, and her credit card was charged %$79.95 on 11/27/207, 12/12/2017, and 01/09/2018. She didn't want, not thought she was getting, a monthly subscription. She tried to get the charges stopped and got various results including offering a 25% discount on one occasion and hanging up on another. One representative agreed to cancel the shipments in December. However another charge appeared in January. She finally talked to another representative on January 21, 2018 who said he was cancelling the shipments and gave her a cancellation number. I could find no information on the company, only "Fit Chances 888-5676-8247 NJ" on the credit card statement for each charge. On 02/01/2018 my wife got another pending charge on a different credit card for $79.95 with the merchant name "Public Road TRIS". She talked with a credit card representative and was told to wait until the charge posted. It was posted on 02/05/2018 with the description listed as "PUBLIC ROAD TRIP 866-456-6586 CA". My wife called the credit card company and disputed the charge and the credit card was cancelled. I called the number to find out what the charge was for, and a gentleman asked how did I like the product. I told him I didn't know what the product was, and he mentioned "oil". When I mentioned my wife's name he said my wife's account had been cancelled on January 21, and no there were more orders. When I started pressing him about the charge he said to contact the ordering company and just hung up. This is a relatively small amount of charges, however it appears to me to be some sort of a fraud since the second charge was listed to PRIME ROAD TRIP (or TRIS). I have found a number of other complaints about the same sort of "trial" scam involving herbal oil under other names as "OrganixCBD" and "Natural CBD" but with the same $79.95 monthly subscription that each consumer was unaware of until the charges starting piling up. Is this something that can be investigated as wide-spread and involving fraud? Public Roads TRIS is a legitimate service under the Federal Highway Administration, and I wouldn't think would be selling hemp oil.

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

The information you put here on the blog does not go into the law enforcement database.

Ok so I fell for it, twice.
First time I e-mailed right away because a second product showed up on my email confirmation. After emailing with somebody I ended up being told to phone them. The phone conversation didn't go very well and I ended up with a supervisor on the line. At this point I found out I was signed up for a recurring payment. I lost it on the guy and he cancelled it.
About a week ago I saw an ad for a celebrities skincare, didn't even bother to see if she had a skincare line (she doesn't) I realized it was the same scam when the confirmation showed up with two items again. I immediately emailed them and told them they better cancel me from everything that they may have me signed up for. I was again told to call, I didn't. I emailed back and again forcefully told them to cancel everything immediately. I received an email back saying everything was cancelled.
I feel like a fool for falling for this twice but at least I didn't get billed for more.

Signed up for free trial offer. $4.95 on my credit card. Was shipped the order, however a month later saw two $89.00 charges on my card. Called company immediately and cancelled order but was told I had "agreeded" to a subscription, which I only did because of their false, fraudulent, misleading advertising. I am still fighting to get one of the charges removed and credited on my card. I was able to get one of the charges removed from credit card company. This company all ALL the others like them need to 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. The comments you put here on the blog do not go into the database.

Scammed agreed to a free gift for filling out Amazon survey. Initial charge of $4.95 for shipping. 2 weeks later another Lumineux ships. Call their customer service and reported that I never ordered the 2nd cream. Agent still tried to sell me with offers of 50% off and then 60%! Then I discovered that I was charged $89.97!! After much wrangling he agreed to credit my account, he refused to give me his last name BEWARE of Nick@ Stamps. com Customer service #800 379-2310 Contacted my bank immediately.

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

I want to cancel my orders and order it when I need it

I was taken as well. I read online about Regen-a for disappearing eye bags. 14 day trial for 4.95 no obligations were to be found. I looked for them. They charged my bank 7 times for 87.95 and 89.95 before i could stop it. One charge was still pending in my bank over the weekend and still was allowed to go through. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS BS.

My mom unknowingly signed up for free offer and the 14 days already past and the scam company refused to refund the charges. Called the credit card company and the rep advised the best way to fight the charges is to tell them the product wasn't received. I had to take this route to deal with these scammers. Credit card reversed the charges thankfully (almost $400).

I just got scammed to by this Celine skincare offer that I got through Costco! And I only trusted it because it was from Costco. It was supposed to be a free offer and only pay for shipping and handling then I got a charge on my credit card for $88! When i cakes them with my credit card company on the phone to disputes this slick talking salesman tried to tell me that I signed up for a subscription which I did not. The receipt I have from them says nothing about this or about me authorization any further payments on my credit card. This guy should be ashamed of himself! He told me that I could dispute the payment but that it would probably be denied. What a jerk!

This product deserves no stars at all. It is a scam. I foolishly sent off for a sample and then was charged $93.79 for the sample I requested and another $93.87 for a sample I did not even request. I tried to call before the date to cancel but was told mailbox was full. I then sent an email. A representative called me and I told him to cancel my subscription. I then called again and the representative hung up on me. I should have trusted my gut and not have had anything to do with this company. Vero Revive

Redcrest Fitness in Lake Mary, FL. I'm still looking for an actual location to call for a refund. Redcrest hasn't come up in my Google search yet. I'm still searching.

I also get a charge from Redcrest Fitness and I cannot find anything on it! I also receive a magazine every month at the same time I'm charged and the customer service number is disconnected!

I fell for this and I don't know what to do next. Right after I submitted my info my card was hacked and someone tried to purchase a hefty amount at an online sporting goods store. The bank caught it. I closed my card immediately. I figured that was that. Now they are calling me and threatening to take me to collections. I would never give them my new card number after what happened before. This is a scam but how much trouble am I in?

I saw a charge on my parents Discover card (not being nosy, I pay their bills for them) for $4.95 and $5.95. The charges were from Illuminesse for face cream and eye serum. My mother, bless her heart, fell for this scam. Gratefully, I called Discover and the credit card was shut down before I even finished making the request and new cards were shipped out the same day! Hopefully, that's the last of it.

So, remember to check in with your parents. If we fall for these scams, imagine how easy it would be for them to as well.

I have been scammed by Alvera cream and serum. Free sample, then they sent the same small amount again 200 euros has been taken from my bank account.there was no mention of these exhorbitant charges on ordering have had to change my bank account to stop further deliveries. the bank is following them to fraud.

I was scammed also. elise anti wrinkle crea m. Product doesnt even work. didn the trial period. 14 days later they pulled 150$ out of my account. The bank had to give me there phone number couldnt find it on anything since i didn't even get an invoice. I feel stupid to fall for this, but i called the number and she said they dont reimburse.closed my card and im disputing the transaction because i didnt authorize the transaction hopefully this works to get my money back. meanwhile as i was talking to the lady she asked me if i read the terms and conditions. I didnt see any terms and conditions. hell i didnt even get an invoice i told her. I left it at that and closed my account. total scam

I am 82 years old and I have been scammed. I ordered a “free trial” of eye cream and understood that I would pay the shipping of $4.95. I got two products ibstead of one and a month later got the same two products for whicheach time I was charged $91.90 from something called EYEWRINKLERESTOREREMI and $94.90 fromHEALTHYLIFERESTOREDIET.I tried to find a way to call or write these places to tell them I do not want their products and never ordered them. I cannot find a phone number, an email address, or a street address. All I have is the information from the shipping package which has an email address that is not in service and a phone number that no-one answers. I have tried and tried to contact these people and cannot. I feel I am a prisoner of these unscrupulous people. Please help.

I was scammed by EliseCream for 2 bottles of face cream. It went exactly as above, an order for $10 and then unexpectedly another order every month - the same 2 creams - for $170 each month. After making a big fuss on the phone I am supposed to get a 75% refund on the first $170, but I don't have it yet and I am concerned that I will get another order before the repeating order is canceled. This is a complete scam.

I have just been scammed by a company out of Las Vegas, Nevada called "Clearly Perfect" on one product, and "Youthful Beauty" on another couple of products. I am a poor student who was trying to enter a PCH Sweepstakes to (hopefully) win cash, when up popped these screens stating I must purchase a face cream for a mere $2 in order to enter the contest. I agreed, and another screen popped up for eye serum - altogether, their address was the same. The products were good, but I had been put on auto-send, and the next two products cost me $100 each, which came directly out of my bank account (and overdrew me in the process, as I wasn't expecting it.) I should have known better than to try gambling - I had never done it before, and I never will again!! (Life is hard, but I am responsible and capable.)

Illuminesse Face creams are being peddled in this trial offer way. It's offered as a free trial with a time clock ticking to move quickly. The shipping only charges for the trial appear on the credit card statement in different names to cause confusion and protection for themselves. They claim it turns into a subscription and immediately charge the credit card exorbitant amounts. The trial offer product arrives with no indication of a subscription or any cancellation information. No paperwork of any kind. It doesn't seem odd because the consumer only got a trial. However, within a few weeks large charges appear on the credit card and attempt to uncover what's going on by calling the company are met with beligerence, sarcasam, offers to reduce the subsequent charges 35% then 50%, and intimidation to take the deal offered or you will get stuck with paying the whole amount.

I just went through pure hell and had a panic attack over this false advertisement. no where did it say to call in 14 days or i would be charged the full amount. they argued with me and tried telling me that its listed but i have my reciept and there is nothing on it. they are a bunch of thieves. I called my bank and have to wait for it to go through before doing a fraud claim. now im out almost 200 dollars, 3 hours of work and almost had to go to hospital from a panic attack because i was so frustrated. I hope i get my money back cause I can not stand to lose 190 dollars right now. what can be done about these rude people. they are dishonest and dont even try to pretend to care that they just screwed you.

This happened to me too left my bank account emptied and the product was sent a month after my order they give you 14 days from the order date to return it then send it out a month later so you are two weeks too late to send it back.
Total scam avoid at all costs

I had problems with their web site and couldn't get my order for trial to go through, but the next day someone called me and they said they were making sure my order was processed. They told me there were two products but the shipping was only another $6.97 shipping for the 2nd product. I was never told the trial was for 14 days from the date ordered. I got the product on the May 9th both products were prepackaged in the same box and I Paid $4.95 for one and $6.97 for the 2nd. Started using it the next day, on the 11th I saw a charge on my account for 94.99, So I called them and told them I had only tried their product 2 times, they said the trial was from the date of order which according to them was on April 26th, but I told them several times I had not received it that quickly, then looked back and found an email telling me they were shipping it out on the 2nd and it would take 3-5 days. Either way I told them I was not willing to pay $94.99 tried to tell me there was no refund on the trial. So I asked to speak to a supervisor so they offered me a 60% discount on both products, they told me one product would cost $31.98 and the 2nd 34.98 and that would be my price on all future orders as well. Saw the $31.98 come on my statement and thought the $94.99 would drop off as it was still showing pending. However, today 5/15/19 when I checked I found I had been charged $94.99 plus $31.98. I called them to get the refund on the $94.99 and they told me I had to pay the $94.99. I then asked to speak to a supervisor, they told me I could not speak to one as their call volume was so high, they could not speak to me, but they would be glad to send me another bottle of the product, I told them I was not paying $100 for one jar of product. (the jar is very small) So I told them I would return all the product. I do not care how good a product is I am not going to be messed around like that. Now they tell me I will have to pay for returning the product too and will get my refund after they get it back. We will see how many phone calls it takes to get my refund. And they gave me a deadline of the 26th to return product. I am not happy with this company.

The scam is still being pushed using Robin McGraw's name and creme. If you don't cancel in 14 days from order then they charge you $98.87 monthly until you cancel.

I got took to , when I got my bill from capital one I called and wanted to now what it was for. Then I told them to credit it back to me this was in Febuary of 2019, and I also called the company said I never received no more then the trial size, it never said nothing about getting charged more. And the 14 day trial .
I did get the $94.99 credit but I did not get the $97.88 because the Capital One charge sent them the money and I am out.
I called the company and here the same thing about 14 days but this has been taking so long , they kind of laugh and said I have to go after capital one .
Also I returned my trIal sizes and Imam out that money.

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