A Puerto Rico-based company advertising "free" skin care products tricked customers into pricey, hard-to-cancel subscriptions.
While trying new skincare products free of charge may sound tempting, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that a free trial might not be free at all.
The marketer offered "free" face cream for a $4.99 "shipping and handling" fee. However, customers didn't know that they'd be charged more than $90 dollars for the cream if they didn't cancel in 14 or 15 days.
They were also enrolled in monthly subscriptions, which weren't easy to cancel, according to the FTC.
The company will now turn over nearly a million dollars in assets to the FTC to give partial refunds to affected customers.
Before accepting free trials, the FTC recommends:
- Search for the company online. Look up the name with the words "scam" or "complaint" and see what other people say about the free trial offers.
- Look for information on how you can cancel future shipments or services. If you don't want the product or service anymore, how do you cancel? If the process isn't straightforward for you, don't sign up.
- Watch for pre-checked boxes. Some might give the company permission to keep charging you. Uncheck the box if you disagree with what it says.
Be extremely cautious when accepting something for free because there is a good chance of falling victim to a scam.
- The Federal Trade Commission. Here’s the skinny on “free trials” for skin creams.