SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Free online trail offers may seem appealing, but usually they come with strings attached, as Molly Whitnack from Palo Alto found after she ordered cellulite removal cream.READ MORE: S.F. Supervisors Set to Designate Casa Sanchez Bldg. in Mission District a Historical Landmark
According to Whitnack, the website stated a free trail offer for a 30 day supply – All she had to do was pay $4.95 for shipping and handling.
Weeks later Whitnack said she was charged $86.55, followed by a second charge.
“I didn’t even realize until I logged on my bank account,” she said. “I was like $80 negative. I was shocked.”
Whitnack immediately called the company, but was told the trial was 14 days, even though the offer included a 30 day supply.
Whitnack also discovered she had been enrolled in a monthly plan since the original package was never returned. Jeremy Gin from Site Jabber, a website that tracks tricky behavior online warns consumers against similar websites.READ MORE: UPDATE: Vasco Road Reopened in Byron After Multi-Vehicle Injury Crash
“The way they hook people in is by claiming it’s free,” he said.
Any time a company requires a credit card, Gin said it should raise a red flag.
“Presumably they’re going to charge you, unless you read the small print often time you’ll get stuck paying large fees down the road,” he said.
That’s a valuable lesson Whitnack has now learned after paying $172.
After ConsumerWatch called the company, Cellulean agreed to give Whitnack a partial refund as a goodwill gesture. The company told CBS 5 the website clearly states the free trial is 14 days. They also said it is the responsibility of the consumer to thoroughly read the contract.MORE NEWS: Valley Fair Mall Plan to Charge for Parking Draws Employees' Ire
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