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 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.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Keep the Door Closed!

Okay, friends, this is how I see it. There are so many offers of "free ipads" so many scams about friends in distress in Scotland needing you to send them funds. So many ways that someone is trying to get your money! And, then we get the legit but bothersome emails that seem to come at us out of nowhere. How do they find us?

One way seems to be data mining by legitimate sites we sign on to. Facebook, for instance. Now, I love facebook, it's a great way to communicate easily but they aren't immune to using our information to pad their bottom line.

Here's an article on the Huffington Post about Facebook's new plan to get our personal information - that will then be passed on to whoever is willing to pay for it.

Now, right this minute, if you do apps like Farmville or Mafia Wars, you've opened yourself up to whatever you've written in the information you gave to facebook. I look at it like this. Facebook is like a room that belongs to you. There is one door to this room and only facebook has the key to come in and out (and your friends, of course). When you friend them, they got the key that enables them to communicate with you and you with them. This key gives your friends access to that personal stuff you've approved to be shared. Apps don't have the key. You give them the key when you click "Allow" before you give away those fish or flowers or rutabaga plants. I don't do apps, I refuse to give them the key to my room. For all I know, they could have the same key you gave to facebook, not your friends, but to facebook.

I've always accepted that I have to give facebook the key, otherwise I can't have the room. But, with their soon to be increasing need to have my information, I am thinking...I don't have to give them my real information, do I?