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 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.

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