Consumer charged $432 for 'free trial' of skin cream
Ross Mclaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Wednesday, January 18, 2017 6:00AM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 18, 2017 7:20PM PST
From Surrey to Kitchener, Ontario, McLaughlin on Your Side has been hearing from many consumers who feel like they've been trapped into buying products they didn't want.
It all started after they responded to an offer for a free trial and then ended up with multiple charges on their credit cards.
Shelagh Begg and Sue Lheureax both signed up for a free trial of Abella Mayfair face cream, but after trying the product they were not impressed.
“I tried it once, maybe twice. I didn’t like how it turned my skin orangey-yellow and left a film,” said Lheureax.
Both women thought it was no big deal because it was supposed to be a free trial. But then they noticed big charges on their credit cards.
"There was nothing that flagged us to say, ‘Hey once you agree to this, you're now going to get auto shipments that are very, very expensive," said Begg, who had $432 in charges on her credit card.
"They're refusing to give my money back or let me return it," said Lheaureax.
The Better Business Bureau issued an alert about Abella Mayfair in November 2016 after receving 91 customer complaints. The company has an F rating, multiple negative reviews and is being investigated for unsubstantiated advertising claims.
“There are a lot of people that are falling for this," said Evan Kelly of the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C.
But the women didn’t see the terms and conditions listed on the website, which states you're automatically enrolled in a subscription and after the trial expires in 14 days you're charged almost $100 US. The free trial starts from the time you order, not when you receive the product, which can take up to 10 days.
McLaughlin called the only number he could find for Abella Mayfair. The person who took the call said they would forward his concerns on to the legal department, but couldn’t promise anything.
McLaughlin also emailed the company, but heard nothing back.
Begg got her money back after filing a complaint with the BBB and Lheaureax initially received some of her money back, and after McLaughlin on Your Side got involved got the remainder back as well.
The BBB has asked Abella Mayfair to address the issues and concerns underlying the complaints about its free trail offers but has not received a response.
The BBB also says the company appears to be changing company and product names frequently, emerging across North America in different forms. Many times you'll see these offers popping up on social media like Facebook and they may use celebrity names to attract you too.