“Free” products weren’t really free

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.

Tagged with: free trial, scam, weight loss
Blog Topics: 
Health & Fitness

Comments

This has happened to me.I watch my statement every month If they don't correct it and take off I tell them I will report it to FTC or Consumers-Attorney General of FAIRFAX,Va.Sometimes it works some time it doesn't.I ave lost of moneythis way.Dr. Oz was the worst.and noneof them worked.

Dr. Oz tells you when you watch his show that is the ad says it comes from it, it is not true. To see what companies and products he does recommend, go to his website.

This is Definitely a SCAM do not order.... Customer service Agents are really rude DO NOT ORDER GARCIANIA CAMBOGIA

This is the WORST. DO NOT GET sucked in to the BS because its nothing but a lie and the customer service will pretend to get financial approval when really you will NEVER get a 100% refund. The most i could get was 50%. #VERYANGRYCUSTOMER

I JUST GOT THEM TO REFUND 100%! FIGHT FOR IT! I called to get my bank statement explained, why I was charged $87.47. The kids told me the reasoning and tried to get me to buy more at a discount, yadda yadda yadda... He said he COULD NOT refund anything at all but could cancel my subscription. I felt screwed over and said fine. Got my cancellation # and decided to google this nonsense.

Read all this on this page. Called back, told the young lady I had just got off the phone with my attorney and he informed me of the law suit involving the ftc and that she needed to refund my account for the full amount or I would start my own car against them and get the BBB involved as well. She started that because my account had been closed out there was nothing she could do. At that point I was more forceful and inform her that I will contact my lawyer in the morning and there will be a case brought to you I need 100% refunded back to my card immediately. She put me on hold come back and said she could refund 25% back to my card.

I said that will not do it needs to be 100%. She put me on hold again come back and said she could put 75% back on my card. I said that will not do you will refund $87.47 to my bank account right now and she put me on hold and come back and said I was able to get 100% approved to be refunded back to your card. DON'T GIVE UP! DEMAND A 100% REFUND! DON'T LET UP UNTIL YOU GET IT!

I had called, more than ready to get my 100% refund and guess what? Not only did she speak English perfectly fine, but informed me that there was no way she could give me the refund. Zip. Apparently in the tiniest script ever in the terms and conditions WHICH IS ALSO WRITTEN SO SMALL AND IN ANOTHER COLOUR CLOSE TO THE WHITE USED ON THE PAGE ITSELF UNREADABLE AT THAT - that I agreed to being billed. Why is it you ask? They send you a 30 day bottle for a 14 day trial, and if you don't cancel or send it back within those 14 days, then they charge you 90+ for BOTH products even if you didn't open them. The fourteen days are from shipment not from the day I received them, which means it came in the mail since I live in a remote area already halfway through the 'free trial'. I am absolutely furious over this.

She wouldn't transfer me to anyone whatsoever despite my asking, then further demanding and even bringing up the case. She said she had the power to help me and that she couldn't do a damn thing.

So here is what I have to say about this. If you venture into lands, maybe highlight the entire terms and conditions section, since they like to hide things in plain sight. And I mean literally hide. Amazes me that they can write such crap like that in white, small as hell, and get it away with it despite it being legible. My paycheck is out the window, and I am stuck scraping pennies for my family and I. Thanks.

If you enrolled in a free trial offer from a marketer that overcharged you, contact the company.

If the company won’t give you a refund, call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Ask the credit card company to reverse the charge because you didn't intend to order the additional merchandise. If you were wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC.

I just got my email confirmation stating I was getting my 100% refund back to my card. Do not stop fighting them. Tell them you will join a in a class settlement law suit in they don't refund you 100%. I had to call twice, ask to speak to a supervisor and of course there was none to talk to. The second person claimed to be a manager. I told her that unless she was ready to be sued personally for the scam they were running that she either had to get me a supervisor or get the full amount back. They both tried the 25%, then the 50%, then the 75% refund and I declined all. I told her I needed the full amount or they would be sued for the scam they were running. And that I was going to continue to call every day until I got to the top. They are trained to tell you they are trying to help you with the partial refunds. I even noticed one of them was typing and talking to someone else as to get feedback. They finally gave up. They said it would take 3 to 10 days to get my refund but I told them that my money better be back in my account by Thursday or I will be calling again. They type notes on your file, so most of what you say is seen by the next person you call. DONT GIVE UP!

Call your credit card company they will cancel your order

THANK YOU! I had called and got the NO REFUND spill and I'm broke! I then began to research and came across your blog. I called them back, told them the exact same thing you had typed verbatum, IT WORKED IMMEDIATELY! I am ever so greatful, thank you for sharing.

Did they give you your refund back? I am in the same boat and I demanded a 100% refund. The customer service rep said he would give it to me (after I pressured him) and I got a confirmation email.

This happened about 10 minutes ago, but I just want to make sure I get my refund. Did they fully refund you?

Damn, they got me too. Pure Garnicia Cambogia, San Diego, CA 92130; 888-316-7691 along with Green Coffee Pure Clense, same address; 888-375-8698. Calling my bank now since it's only 6am in San Diego...

If you use all the information in these comments regarding the FTC and the BBB they will not question you once you ask to speak to a manager. I spoke with Francis, and she refunded my money at 100% with very little fight from me. But, I had read and followed all the comments on this page.

How did you get the number?

Im dealing with this right now. I have a charge of 87.47 on my card statement and i was freaking out. And i finally realized it must of been from the bottle of garcinia cambodia or whatever its called. It took forever for me to get it in the mail that i completely forgot about ordering the bottle. My problem is i did research and things after it came and decided not to take it. I wanted to send it back but there was nothing in my email so i could see even which website i ordered it from to be able to contact them by phone or even an address to send back the bottle.. So what do i do. Just dispute it through my card.. Grrrr so angry. That charge came at the worst time.

After calling 3 times to cancel and each time they refused to cancel, they extended the trial time, then lowered the price. So the next time I called I told them that the conversation was being recorded and they cancelled! Scum! Shame on Dr Oz and Melissa McCartney for promoting these frauds!

Does anyone have a good number for this company? I haven't been charged the $87 & change yet but I want to be sure that I do not get charged . How do I send this product back? How do I make sure I don't get charged for this?

Thanks!

Thank you so much for posting this! I had to be very firm but because of your posting i knew what to say and i didn't give up and I got my 100% refund! Their a bunch of crooks!

Where can I call to get a full refund for mine?

I called 844/321-9422 and spoke to a representative who advised all supervisors were in a meeting but after 20 minutes I got my full refund and account has been cancelled so my card is removed from their system. I was told to make sure to advise them to remove the card.

Please help me, Jenny. This company changed me 400Cad, but I didn't get any products from them, except 2free trial. Thank you

I was billed $486.09 CAD and was told that if I pay to ship back the latest package I was sent, I would get a 75% refund (minus the cost of shipping the product to me in the first place). I had already canceled my account, but they claim that I ordered a second trial sample which reactivated my account (I did no such thing). What can Canadians do about this (I have spoken to them several times and my bank even tried to talk to them)?

This same exact thing happened to me!! I'm glad I found your comment and read it before I called! They did the same thing they did to you, it started off the lady said she would give me 25% of my money back but I kept DEMANDING my full refund of $86.94 back and told her I would report her to the fraud department and that I know they are scammers due to what I read online and eventually I got her to refund the whole amount back!!! DON'T GIVE UP!!! They're scared to be reported and they WILL give you your money back. I actually did already report them to the fraud department who is going to make sure that they follow through with my 100% refund.

You really do have to fight. I got 100% back. You just have to be honest with them, maybe cry a little bit. most of us can't afford a gym membership, much less this. That's exactly what I told him. They were stubborn, but eventually I got my money.

If you were to cancel your bank account and open a new one is there anyway they can charge you for it?

Yes I spoke with the bank and they said even though you cancel your credit card and issue you a new one, they will still be able to charge your new card!!!! SO in the meantime monitor your account. I just got done arguing with the merchant on the phone. They kept saying they will give me a 35% refund. Then another discount and I will have to pay a restocking fee of 10.49 and 11.99. I argued until she finally gave up and she will give me the full refund because she no longer wanted to argue with me. DO NOT LET THESE PEOPLE SCAM YOU.

How can they charge you if they don't have your CC #?

Thank you so much for this post! I got sucked into this scam as well and thought that money was long gone! However after reading your post I immediately called at 1:30am and fought to get my full refund back! I got the name of the person and made sure to ask them for a confirmation email, I let them know if I didn't receive the email/ the money in 3-5 business days as promisedI would call back and ask for the same representative. I mentioned that I would get a lawyer and report them to FTC because although they try to fight you and say that it was in the terms and conditions box that we checked I questioned why I never got a conformation email for the multiple charges of $77.84 and $86.94. They try to say that they are not authorized to do the refunds but make sure you don't give up!!!

Hi I have tried to call the number on their website but not saying for me to check the number :( it's an 11 digit long number.. what can I do??

Jenny y...plz help!! Ur situation seams just like mine the most. I just got off a 3 hr call and nothing, they will not refund money, I begged n pleaded, yelled, threatened, ext Idk what else to do? They took out 200 dollars, my rent money! Im so screwed n need help..im filing a dispute with my bank, but they said chances r I wont get it back because I checked the box saying I read terms n conditions, even.though the terms were unreadable due to color.n.small print! Anything u can do?? Plz im desperate!

Jenny, I'm a victim, too! I have not been able to locate a phone number, would you be kind enough to send it to me:

Under the commenting policy, we don't post personal contact information.

Jenny, where can i find contact details to get in touch? I sent them an email but it bounced back multiple times

Did they ask for a case number when u stated u contacted a lawyer?
How soon did the refund come back?

Hi,

I am one of the customers that signed up for the risk free trial, paid the shipping and then I am suddenly charge for the face cream jars that I was not aware of, did not read the fine print. Just went ahead and got blinded over the buy one get one free just pay shipping. Because its over there 30 day supposedly trial they are saying the charges in my account is valid. I had called my bank to dispute the transaction, I am not sure if I will win but the investigation will be processed. I called the company to try to return the jars and they refuse to give me a return label, I manage to find the address to return them too. But overall I am not sure if I have taken the right steps, I also called them to cancel so they don't continue to charge me. The representative was sure to report my recordings and said you basically authorize this all the moment to called to cancel so your dispute will lose. Is there any light that I will come out positive in this situation????

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. For more information, please see the FTC publication, "Free" Trial Offers?

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

Hey Jenny i called back did what u did and he said it was my lost i already agreed to and amount. He basically said i was there was nothing I could do about anything now especially sense my account is already closed sense i called earlier. He said he doesn't even know why I called back. Please I am a single mom with no job and the money I have is all i have left until I can find a new Job. I only got this because it said shipping thats it.. I really need the money they took for my babys things and food.

Jenny,

I gotta say, your post was the most influencing post and I used your words verbatim to get my $$ back, although I am waiting for it to hit my acct. :/

Jenny-thanks for sharing your story. I just found a charge on my card for 89.56. I called my bank and they woudlnt stop the charge. I called this fraudulent company yesterday and was denied a refund. They did offer me more product at a 35 % discount-then again at 75% off. RIDICULOUS. I'm LIVID. I will call again and tell them exactly what you did. I'll share the results.
Fingers crossed!

Hi Jenny. I just got off the phone with these people. They offered me a measly $64 then withdrew it because I was going to contact my bank. So is there a lawsuit involving the FTC? I am going to take this further but need to know if they will respond to my request. Please respond if you can.

I ordered exceptional garcinia Cambogia at the beginning of the month. When I purchased it, it also added on a green tea bean extract without allowing me to confirm. I was then charged $79.52 for the green tea and $94.86 for the garcinia cambogia 14 days later. I called to dispute where I was offered 35%, then 50%, then 75% off my future purchases. I repeatedly refused and requested to speak to a supervisor to reimburse my bank. I was told there was nothing they could do but cancel my account. It went on for several minutes (22, to be exact) that I was told that this woman was able to assist me and any supervisor would do the same. I finally was able to be transferred to a supervisor, but was hung up on instead. Livid, I called back and went through the same thing with the next person. I cried, begged, pleaded, and refused to hang up until I was refunded. I was told that since the garcinia was opened that she could do nothing. I was told I would be able to send back the unopened green tea (with me paying for shipping, which I had already paid for initially), and they would refund me part of my money as there was a 9.95 restocking fee. It continued on this way with me pleading for my money back. Defeated, I finally hung up. I found this page and called back a day later and notified the man that I contacted a lawyer and know they can refund my money. Same conversation as the day before. He continued to tell me he could do nothing. I repeatedly told him it's a scam and I would report them to the BBB and FTC. He finally cancelled my account and agreed to refund me 100% of the garcinia cambogia, but I would have to send back my green tea and pay shipping/restocking fees. I refused and he agreed to transfer me to a supervisor. At this point I was hung up on AGAIN. I called back to hear the same offers again, and I refused. I told her I would not hang up until I was refunded 100%. She told me this was impossible. I explained that it is not impossible if the previous man was able to do so. She continued to resist. I repeatedly asked for 100% refund or to connect me to the person who could fulfill my needs. She put me on hold for several minutes and then agreed to refund me 100%. I spent over an hour on the phone fighting with this company until I got what I wanted. You are right. Do not give up! It is tiring, stressful, and honestly a bit embarrassing to continue to argue until you get your money back. It CAN be done! I mentioned that I read several websites and know that it can be done and would talk to whoever I have to in order to ensure that I was fully refunded. Do NOT let them fool you. It can be done. They take notes on each call so be ready to have them repeat anything you have said to another person you may have previously spoken to. Do not allow them to keep your money! You CAN get refunded! Be firm and stand your ground. These people will not stop ripping unsuspecting customers off if we give in and accept anything less than what we initially requested. It may take some time, but it is worth it in the end. I honestly don't even know the name of the company because on each email and website it is not clearly stated. I'm sure they all work the same way! Fight back and get refunded!!!!!!! Follow Jenny Y's advice and continue to request a 100% refund regardless of their "offers"!

Jenny, I cannot find a number for the carcina ZT company that is going to eventually charge $87 & change? Do you happen to know their number so I can send my product back?

I just did this same exact thing. I was hung up on the first call that I made after being told that a refund was not possible but that they could cancel my subscription. I said a full refund was necessary. She placed me on hold and then came back and said there was nothing that could be done and then hung up on me. I called back and spoke with a different rep who offered a 30% refund. I explained that this was not going to work. Then offered a 50% refund. Again this will not work. Then he offered for me to return the product and I would get a full refund but that could take up to a month. That was fine with me so I accepted that option. After that he said to just keep the product and he would refund me 100%. Just keep fighting.

Thanks Jenny...You have saved us all from these Crooks!

Yes this is just a scam to get your money and it's not free. They hid the fact that they charge your card $79.95 after 2 weeks and will only refund you some of your money back, therefore it's not a free trial.

What number did you use because I have called the number on the bottle 888-240-9246,and there is no answe I have having been calling for hours. Worst experience ever.

1-888-597-0128 t  his is the number i called.   I was charged $79.99 on 2/26 and $89.99 on 2/27. I recieved a confirmation email that i am getting 100% refund. fight it! dont settle for half you money back!

I called the number that you posted twice. The first guy said they don't handle that but guaranteed me the number he was giving me did. So he gave me 800-990-9597. That number was nothing but ads. So called again and the next jerk had it on speaker and you could hear people laughing and the song thriller in the background. I replied twice not so nicely to the email I received this morning of a so called order confirmation. Made it very clear in email that this was unauthorized and money to be back in my account or FTC and attorney was going to be contacted. I'm lost..

If you enrolled in a free trial offer from a marketer that overcharged you, contact the company. If the company won’t give you a refund, call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Ask the credit card company to reverse the charge because you didn't intend to order the additional merchandise. If you were wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC.

Ascend Garcinia is a total scam. I was charged 79.95 for a trial period (14 days). There is no where on the website to cancel your trial period. I just got off the phone and was able to get an 85% refund. DO NOT order from this company - they are a total scam. Also, don't back down when you to try get a refund. It took me 15 minutes on the phone, but I didn't back down and I finally was able to recoup some of the money. This is criminal!

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