Cheap trials can cost consumers plenty

November 13, 2009 4:06:22 PM PST
If you have seen the ads touting free trials of diet supplements, we have a warning for you. The fine print can leave you paying much more than you ever expected.Some of the websites that offer the trials often feature extra charges that consumers say are catching them by surprise. The websites make it appear that consumers will only pay a few dollars for the products, but if you're not careful, the added features can lead to costly charges on your credit cards.

When Cheryl Hageman ordered a trail sample of acai supplements, she thought she would only see a charge of $4.95 to her credit card.

She said, "I did receive the supplement and within 10 days was billed $79 on my credit card."

Hageman says she immediately called to cancel the supplements, but a month later more came anyway.

"They had taken another 79.25 on October 5th," she said.

Hageman says she sent back the supplements but still has not seen a refund. Instead she says even more charges are showing up on her credit card statement.

"I happened to be on my credit card statement last night and at 9:35pm another debit came through for $6.21," Hageman said.

She says the extra fee and others she discovered were for e-books and fitness club memberships that came with the original supplement offer.

Hageman explained, "Because I ordered the supplements they automatically enrolled me in a monthly membership of a weight loss program."

Hageman says she never signed up for the extra features, but a quick look at the website she used shows why those extra charges are coming as a surprise. The website makes consumers opt out of a fitness club and weight loss e-book. If consumers do not opt out, the charges get sent directly to the credit card.

Bottom line, be sure to read every word of a website order page before entering your credit card number because the same issue is happening to consumers across the nation.

Deana Turner with the Houston Better Business Bureau said, "They are either having a hard time canceling (or) they're getting repetitive charges on their credit card."

Turner says consumers who see the charges should dispute them with the credit card issuers.

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