Wednesday, March 2, 2011
When "Free" isn't "Free"
Okay, I am on a tear about internet scams. If I can fall for something, then it's likely someone else can, too. So, today, I'm going to tell you about something that I did, so maybe you won't do it, too.
There is a make up company called Mineral Elements - it's powdered make up. They offer you a "free trial" of their product for just the cost of shipping. Not an uncommon set up, this happens all the time. Companies want you to try their products and most of the time, it means you keep the samples sent. "Trial" is the operative word here but you only realize the importance of that word later.
Now, they do cover their bases, with a tiny little link to their "terms and conditions" but most people don't read that. I didn't but, let me tell you, I will always read them from now on. If I had read that, I would have known that these trial samples were in fact, part of an autoship program and I'd just joined their "club".
Thankfully, I researched this company at complaintsboard.com so I didn't get taken.
What happens is this. They send you their product and you have 10 - 14 days to try it (depends on who is selling it - it seems they franchise their products out). If you don't like it, you can cancel and send it back but you have to pay 130.00 for it - this isn't a trial, it's actually your first shipment as a member of their "club". Here's the rub - and where it's particularly devious - while they give you 14 days in the trial, they only give you 5 days in which you can cancel the "club" membership and not be charged for the product they sent (which is this little kit).
I called immediately upon receipt of the shipment to cancel my membership. I had to also tell them I wanted to return the product. Well, the nice lady told me I could keep the stuff for 34.00 and not have to pay postage. No way, I said, this is going back to you.
She sent me 2 emails, one had their Return Authorization number and here's another technicality. If you don't prominently display that number on the package, they won't recognize the return and you'll be charged the 130. I did and they did not charge me for it. Actually, they couldn't, after reading on complaintsboard, I cancelled my cc number and got a new one.
Some, who have signed on to this can't seem to get out of it. Every two months there's a charge for 130 on their cc statements.
This seems to be a new strategy to separate us from our money, watch out!
Note: the picture is of a typical Mineral Elements seller - I couldn't find the exact seller I used but the terms and conditions are the same but shipping and handling are actually higher.