'Free Trial' Ads Costing Consumers Hundreds, Even Thousands of Dollars - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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'Free Trial' Ads Costing Consumers Hundreds, Even Thousands of Dollars

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    NEWSLETTERS

    "Free Trial" Ads Costing Consumers Hundreds, Even Thousands of Dollars

    NBC 5's Samantha Chatman explains how companies are duping consumers into hundreds of dollars in charges with "free trial" online ads. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018)

    Leota Ball, 85, said she could kick herself for something she recently did in the name of smooth skin.

    "I was on Facebook just scrolling and, like a dummy, I clicked it," she said.

    She clicked an ad for a "risk-free trial" of face cream, using an image she knew and trusted.

    "It was Dr. Oz," she said.

    There he was touting it, and then, here it came: The cream only cost $4.95 plus shipping.

    But Ball's credit card told a different story, racking up multiple orders.

    "I said, 'I didn't order two.' They said, 'oh yes you did.' I said 'why would I order two,'" she asked.

    The Better Business Bureau has received nearly 37,000 complaints related to so-called free-trials that end up costing consumers hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

    "We've seen Joanna Gaines, we've seen Oprah, Rachael Ray," said Phylissia Clark with the BBB of North Texas.

    Clark said the hook usually starts with a picture of a famous celebrity claiming to endorse the brand and its success rate.

    We're talking face creams, weight loss pills, teeth whitening kits and other beauty products.

    "We have yet to have a company provide us any science that would corroborate their claims," Clark explained.

    The Federal Trade Commission has also opened an investigation into what it calls misleading advertisement.

    Complaints to the FTC about these scams more than doubled from 2015-2017 and they show no signs of slowing.

    The average loss to consumers: $186.

    The majority of victims: women.

    The charges in Ball's case accounted for more than her monthly shopping budget.

    "I said 'you bank on it. I'm going to report you,'" she said.

    The company that sold the cream didn't respond for comment.

    But Ball's credit card company did end up removing the charges.

    A spokesperson for Dr. Oz said he has no affiliation with the face cream in question.

    Joanna Gaines has been linked to similar ads, and her company called such ads a scam.

    Rachael Ray said she doesn't endorse any skincare lines and we haven't heard back from Oprah's people.

    If you need my help. click here: https://www.nbcdfw.com/consumer-form/