You may be tempted by free trials for health supplements and beauty treatments, but they can end up being very expensive. Find out what you need to know about ‘free’ trial scams for diet pills and supplements.
Free trial scams for diet pills and supplements
The way these trial scams work is that a beauty treatment, diet pill or supplement is advertised online or in a magazine. It often sounds too good to be true, but the advert may be peppered with testimonials from seemingly happy customers. You sign up for what you think is a free trial, but you may find you’ve committed to a regular purchase. This guide explains what to look for and how to cancel the deal.
1. Be very wary about what you sign up to
It may sound obvious, but if you’re signing up to a free trial, it should be free. Not all free trials are scams, but too many deals turn out to be trial scams. Ideally, the company shouldn’t need to take your credit or debit card details. If you have to hand over your details, check very carefully what you’ve given the company permission to do. You may find you’ve agreed to ongoing payments month in, month out.
2. Check the cancellation period
The trial scams I’m aware of give customers a cooling off period, typically of 14 days. In any event, if you’re buying from a website in the UK you have a 14-day cooling off period which starts the day after the goods arrive. The 14-day cooling off period means you can cancel the sale within 14 days, but you have another 14 days in which to return them. Unless the supplements you’re ordering are perishable or custom made, you can simply send them back.
SAVVY TIP: I know that some companies that are involved in diet pill trial scams (rather than reputable online retailers) make it difficult for customers to return unwanted items. This may mean that a 14 day cooling off period, offered by the company, is far less useful than you might think.
3. Check review sites
It’s always worth checking to see if others have complained about the company or had a bad experience with them. Look on review sites or just type in their name plus the word ‘problem’ to Google or another search engine. If there are one or two complaints, that may not signify a problem, but if there’s a stream of unhappy customers, you know there’s an issue.
4. Monitor your bank and credit card statements carefully
Check to see what’s actually being taken from your account. It’s quite likely that the company will start taking regular payments from your credit or debit card, even if you think you’ve only signed up for a free trial or one where you make a one-off payment.
5. Cancel the contract immediately
Unless you want to pay an ongoing fee, it’s a good idea to cancel the contract as soon as you can. Contact the company and explain clearly that you didn’t agree to sign up to ongoing payments. Depending on the information you were given at the time you signed up, say that you are going to report them to Trading Standards or another relevant regulatory body.
6. Tell your bank or credit card provider
Don’t assume that the company will stop taking payments. It’s possible, if they are rogues, that they will not. You don’t need to cancel your credit or debit card to stop them taking more money, you can tell your bank or credit card provider instead. Tell them you have already cancelled the contract with the company and that you don’t want any further payments to be taken from your account. The bank or card provider should not allow any more money to be debited.
SAVVY TIP: If the company has been acting within the law, but you simply decide you don’t like the products (rather than that you have been ripped off or pressurised into signing up to something you didn’t want) there may be a cancellation charge.
7. Do a chargeback to get your money back
You may be able to get money you’ve already paid back via ‘chargeback’ if you’ve paid via credit or debit card. It’s essentially a reversal of the transaction and your card company will try and get a refund. The company you’ve paid can challenge a chargeback, so it’s possible the money may be taken back out of your account again.
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