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Cosmedics Free Sample Scam

Discussion in 'Consumer Fraud & Scams' started by Brian 3rd of 5, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. Brian 3rd of 5

    Brian 3rd of 5 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    I got a call yesterday from a friend of mine who lives in California and needed to borrow some money. She applied for Social Security as soon as she was eligible so her monthly income is modest however she has learned to manage her money, something she couldn’t do when we were together, and she is able to cover all her monthly expenses with some money to spare. At least she thought she did until this week when her debit card was denied for lack of funds. Checking her account she found $200 in ACH payments for skin care products. She called the company and they told her that when she ordered a free sample she had also agreed to recurring monthly orders and approved the payment directly from her bank account. They told her she could cancel the program at any time but then don’t accept returns or make refunds. She gave me as much information as she had and I began investigating. I soon discovered dozen of references to this product on the internet everyone one of them negative. Little was said about the effectiveness of the product, good or bad. Rather almost every complaint involved unauthorized billing for unwanted expensive product.

    The scam goes like this: They have this amazing new cosmetic product which they believe is so effective that if you could see the results from using it for 14 days you would become a permanent customer. So they are willing to give a sample for free if you will just pay the $1.95 shipping. Sounds reasonable and you’re only risking $1.95 because they have to get your consent to charge anything more. They display no details on the website, no information is emailed or included with your sample so for most people it’s only when their bank account is inexplicably empty only halfway through the month that they discover they’ve agreed to pay full price for that sample and another will arrive every month ($100 each) with the money being taken straight out of their bank account.

    The company rep said my friend agreed to the terms but my Ditsy claims she never saw anything like that. Normally you will see a checkbox requiring you to confirm that you have read the Terms and conditions, I couldn’t find one. Finally after searching meticulously I noticed three links at the extreme bottom of the page. ”Contacts”,” Privacy Policy” and “Terms”. They were printed in such low contrasting colors that if you could see them at all you would get the impression that they were disabled links, plus this is where you customarily find Term of Use covering the website and this link is a long ways from where the order form is located. The Terms document is unreal. It states that by just being on the site that you agree to all the terms even if you are unaware of them. You also agree not to sue them in court or join any class action against them but rather settle all disputes through an arbitrator and to accept arbitrators ruling without appeal.

    This can’t be legal can it? If legal, what keeps them from simply setting the monthly cost of their product at $10,000 Can someone take a look at this contract and render an opinion, and keep in mind this is buried at the bottom of a large and busy web page and no instructions on where to find it or any indication that the contract even exist .
     

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  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Impossible to say without reviewing the web site and the ordering process.

    Your friend should review the process with her bank for disputing the charge and dispute it accordingly.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Unfortunately such schemes are legal.

    The legality has to do with the full disclosure that people rarely read.

    Scammers operate on the premise that most people are trusting.

    The lesson here is that NOTHING is free, so simply ignore anyone touts that say otherwise.

    The "contract" does reveal some escape clauses for your friend, cancellation and/or refund.
     
  4. Brian 3rd of 5

    Brian 3rd of 5 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well, she confessed to me that on the same night (May 12th) that she ordered the free sample of face cream, she ordered several other samples. The bank closed her account and opened a new one for her. They went over the statements from May to present there are over 16 charges and her total loss is around $1200. She feels like an idiot of course, shame is a common response to victims of fraud but she is not alone. RipOffReports.com and other such sites have dozens of complaints from people whose stories are identical. I suspect this company operated the same scam under different names. I went through the order process and was never asked to read and confirm T&C. It was only with effort that I found them and would have given up looking except I knew they had to be there somewhere.

    When I read the Class Action Waiver in the contract I felt certain that that was just included to intimidate people because no court would enforce such an unconscionable provision. I was wrong. It's beginning to dawn on me that consumer protection is dead. We even have a president who once lent his name to an enterprise that played on people’s dreams of entrepreneurship and then squeezed every last dime from them. He didn't really need the money he just did it for fun.

    Is there better hope for justice in the criminal courts?
     
  5. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    It isn't a criminal offense to charge what someone agreed to pay. This is not at all unique to make up, nor is it a new practice. Record/music/video clubs lure you in with 5 selections for a penny, plus S & H, then bill you every month you don't specifically opt out or cancel the membership.
     
  6. Brian 3rd of 5

    Brian 3rd of 5 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Elle, nobody agreed to pay anything. Nowhere on the order page do they mention any terms nor do they require the user to click an "I accept terms" button. Within the terms they state that by placing an order you agree to the terms but the only way you'll see the terms is by finding a small, barely visible link at the bottom of the page. The courts have found such contracts to be unenforceable. I have found dozens of people who have been duped by this company so the question is, how does one go about finding a lawyer to file a class action suit.
     
  7. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    You are welcome to try your argument. Anytime terms and conditions are mentioned it behooves you to actually read them, whether a check box is required or not. There is a find a lawyer button at the top of the page. Lawyers do not search for clients on message boards.
     

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