BBB Continues to Receive
Flood of Complaints About Deceptively Expensive “Free” Trials
Wallingford, CT - October 21, 2010 – Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of free trial online offers for diet pills, work at home jobs and teeth whiteners, among other products and services. So far this year BBB has received thousands of complaints from consumers across the country who thought they were getting a free trial, but often ended up losing hundreds of dollars in recurring credit or debit card charges.
Deceptive online ads for “free trials” of various products and services can be found on popular sites like MSN.com, ESPN.com, and Weather.com. The ads typically link to websites of phony news outlets which, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, commonly feature the photo of a well-known French journalist—without her permission—under various names.
One company behind these not-so-free trials is XM Brands,
which has an “F” rating with BBB. According to the nearly 2,000 complaints to the West Palm Beach BBB, the company sells roughly 40 teeth whiteners, acai diet pills and colon cleansers online. Complainants say they agreed to pay anywhere from $1.49 to $3.87 to cover shipping for the product trial but were charged as much as $87 a month, sometimes before they even received their trial in the mail. Consumers allege getting the runaround from the company when they request refunds or ask to stop being billed; one consumer claims to have lost more than $860 as a result of recurring charges.
In just four months, the work at home company Internet Cash Machines
racked up more than 460 complaints from people who were interested in working from home, and received an “F” grade from the Los Angeles-area BBB. Consumers say they signed up for a free trial package of information costing $2.95 but were promptly charged as much as $149. The complaints also allege consumers are unable to cancel by phone or email and have no way to prevent the deduction from their account of a $139-149 fee.
Additional advice on signing up for free trial offers is available at www.bbb.org/us/article/free-trial-offers-are-they-good-deals-425/
. Consumers who believe they have been misled by a free trial offer can file a complaint online with BBB at www.bbb.org/