Online free trial offers or heavily discounted products
Whether it’s a sponsored post in your social media feed or a pop up advertisement while you’re browsing the web, offers of ‘free trials’ or ‘samples’ are a common sight for internet users.
The majority of these sites are based internationally, which makes it very difficult to get assistance because of the time difference, overseas contact points and different regulations.
Here is a typical scenario Consumer Protection sees after receiving a complaint about unauthorised credit or debit card transactions:
- The consumer has signed up for a ‘free trial’ or ‘free sample’ of a product while they were online.
- They were lured by a celebrity endorsement or a very promising advert such as weight loss pills; muscle-building protein powders; teeth whitening gels; age-defying face creams; herbal medicines or natural remedies to cure health issues.
- They had to pay a small fee for postage/shipping or handling which involves supplying your credit or debit card details.
- After receiving the free trial or sample, they sometimes receive extra unauthorised deliveries and are charged for them.
- The terms and conditions will have in fine print stating that unless the consumer makes contact to cancel a proposed subscription they will be sent and charged for further full-priced supplies or signed up to a subscription.
WA ScamNet recommendations:
- Think before you click – don’t be enticed by bold claims such as “fat-busting”, “miracle cure” or incredible “before and after” photos.
- Research the name of the website and product. Typing the name followed by the words ‘rip off’ or ‘scam’ into you search engine is a good way to look for negative information. You could find there is no scientific evidence to back up what’s promoted or fake photos may have been used; the website might even be bogus.
- Watch out for hidden terms and conditions that lock you into an ongoing supply of the product. Always read any fine print you are agreeing to.
- Beware of pre-ticked subscription sign-up boxes and untick them.
- Make an appointment in your diary to cancel if you decide to go ahead with a free trial despite the subscription terms and conditions.
- Keep an eye on bank statements if you have supplied your credit or debit card details, to make sure there are no unauthorised deductions.
You can spread the word by sharing this information among your friends and family.