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'Free trial' internet offer is anything but
Sue Kilfoy was wowed by promises of a free trial for teeth whitener when she was browsing online.
"I've always wanted to find a way to possibly whiten my teeth," she said.
The web page recommended she combine two whitening products -- Dazzle White and Total White -- for better results. Kilfoy spent $11.90 for shipping and handling for a "free" 14-day trial.
"This was a cheap way of doing it," she said. "It looked legit -- it was on MSN."
But what looked like a deal resulted in two charges on her credit card of almost $100 each.
"So I'm out quite a bit for something I thought was going to cost me $12 in shipping charges," Kilfoy said.
The Better Business Bureau has given an F rating to the numbered Alberta company that sells Dazzle White. There were 1173 complaints registered in the last year against the company -- about two-thirds have been resolved.
The BBB has also linked the company to dozens of other products and websites.
"Web marketers are savvy to consumers who click first and ask questions later," BBB president Lynda Pasacreta said.
Kilfoy was also charged an additional amount for something she didn't even order.
"For some fitness company that I didn't realize I had been subscribed to which is some automatic thing that they do."
She called Dazzle White to complain and cancel any other companies she'd been enrolled with without her knowledge.
"It's all stated there in the terms and conditions and as a customer it is your obligation to read them," a company service representative told her.
Sue now wishes she'd read every word of the fine print -- even though there was a lot of it.
Chris Olsen tried to contact the owners of the numbered Alberta company -- finally resorting to sending them a fax requesting a call back -- there was never any response.
Help is available. But it's not easy to undo that mouse click.
"You can call the credit card company. Work with us. It's been a long haul for some people trying to get the bills to stop," Pasacreta said.
You can also contact the Competition Bureau and Consumer Protection BC if you feel you have been the victim of deceptive marketing practices.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen