A Stratford resident alerted the Stratford Press to a possible scam last week when more than $180 was taken from her bank account after she signed up on Facebook to trial beauty products.
The 62-year-old woman, who does not want to be named as she is trying to recoup her money, says at first glance the advertisement seemed to pitch the opportunity to trial and rate products. On visiting the website, she found the offer was for a "risk-free" 30-day trial period of a range of beauty products for an AUD1.99 fee to cover postage.
"I thought I will give the products a go as it is advertised as a free 30-day trial. I signed up, giving my name, address, contact details and credit card info."
In the fine print, which she admitted to not having read, it stated that the trial is for 30 days and that participants have to opt-out before the 30 day-period expires to avoid being charged for the trial products. Unless participants cancel they will continue to receive the product at a cost.
It states: "I will be billed AUD1.99 shipping and processing today. With the 30-day satisfaction guarantee, I just have to call within 30 days of receipt to receive a return number and instructions in order to avoid being charged for my risk-free trial. If I do nothing, I will be billed two payments of AUD69.95, 30 days and 60 days following receipt of my shipment. By clicking "start my trial" I authorise to charge my card for each shipment as described above."
She received the products two weeks later. Meanwhile, some of her Facebook friends told her they had been scammed by similar companies. When she checked her bank account last week, she saw that $2.55, $179.22 and $1.29 was charged to her credit card on December 19. She phoned the company Monday, and it agreed to refund her if she returned the goods. The Stratford Press contacted the Ministry of Consumer Affairs' scam watch, but by press time was still investigating.
The woman advises people to make very sure what they sign up for, read the fine print and keep an eye on their bank accounts.