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August 3, 2009

Beware “Free” Trial Offers for Net Teeth Whiteners

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:38 am

Who doesn’t want a whiter, brighter smile? Everyone does, and so companies have popped up online offering “free trials” of their teeth whiteners. But beware of geeks bearing gifts.

One consumer wrote to Mouse Print* describing how a friend was taken in by the promotion:

It seems she came upon a site that was put together in a way that it appeared to be some local housewife going on about how using two different teeth whitening products together (one after the other in succession) she got amazing results comparable to the hundreds of dollar laser whitening you can get at the dentist. There was all this hoopla about how the lady had tried for years to get coffee and cigarette stains off her teeth and how the normal teeth whitening products never gave her satisfying results but yet with both the products it was amazing blah, blah, blah. The housewife ad says that she is from Houston (turns out it is a code meant to trick you that says she is from where ever the viewer is – if your in New Zealand so is she trying to give a false sense of camaraderie) … Here is the thing she received the trial samples 15 days after signing up for the “free trial” so before she would have even had a chance to try the item and decide it wasn’t for her (if she had realized that was the deal)they had already sent out two more packages of each at $75 per and revoked any satisfaction guarantee.

On a similar site, the geographic connection to the reader is trying to be made, but they obviously used a directionally impaired computer program:

toothwhite1

Another regular reader wrote that he was taken in by this similar site that extolled the virtues of two other teeth whitening products that had free trial offers.  He received three shipments and multiple bills when he was only expecting two free samples.

When visiting the actual sites of the two products being touted, there is a ton of fine print disclosing a ton of charges.

*MOUSE PRINT: For Dazzle White, the charges include [red highlighting added]:

Upon placing your first order for Online Products, you will automatically be enrolled in the DazzlewhitePureTM all-access program (“All-Access Program”). The All-Access Program enables you to access, via your Services Account, the Insider Secrets Expert Tips Package (“Insider Secrets Package”) and the Comprehensive Weight Loss eBook Package (“eBook Package”) made available on the Website. Initially, you shall have access to the Insider Secrets Package pursuant to a fourteen (14) day trial period (“Insider Secrets Access Pass”). If you do not cancel your Insider Secrets Access Pass during your fourteen (14) day trial period, then your Active Credit Card will be charged the monthly Insider Access Package fee of Three Dollars and Twenty-Four Cents ($3.24) (“IAP Monthly Fee”). Thereafter, for as long as your Insider Secrets Access Pass remains active, your Active Credit Card will be charged for the IAP Monthly Fee on a monthly basis, for your ongoing Insider Secrets Access Pass.

Further, you shall initially have access to the eBook Package pursuant to a twenty-eight (28) day trial period (“eBook Access Pass”). If you do not cancel your eBook Access Pass during your twenty-eight (28) day trial period, then your Active Credit Card will be charged the monthly Insider Access Package fee of Seven Dollars and Fourteen Cents ($7.14) (“EAP Monthly Fee” and together, with the IAP Fees, the “Access Fees”). Thereafter, for as long as your eBook Access Pass remains active, your Active Credit Card will be charged for the EAP Monthly Fee on a monthly basis, for your ongoing eBook Access Pass.

All Access Fees will appear on your Active Credit Card bill as “Internet Access Fee and Membership.” You hereby authorize DazzlewhitePureTM (or its partners, affiliates and/or agents) to charge your Active Credit Card all such Access Fees on a monthly basis. You acknowledge and agree that DazzlewhitePureTM will not obtain additional authorization from you for each installment of Access Fees charged to your Active Credit Card.

B. ONLINE PRODUCTS

When our Offer is indicated to be “Risk-Free” we mean that by providing the ability to fully cancel and stop future payments, we eliminate the risk of incurring unwanted charges or commitments.

Trial Offer and Sixty (60) Day Guarantee: Where DazzlewhitePureTM offers its “Trial” Promotion, and where you have chosen to register for such Promotion, upon submitting your initial DazzlewhitePureTM Application, your Active Credit Card will be charged only the non-refundable Shipping and Handling Fee for your initial fourteen (14) day trial membership (“Trial Membership”) and you will receive a one (1) month supply of DazzlewhitePureTM. If you do not cancel your Membership as set forth in Section 6 hereinbelow, and return the one (1) month supply at your expense, which must be received by us within fourteen (14) days of your receipt of the one (1) month supply of DazzlewhitePureTM (“14 Day Trial Period”), your Active Credit Card will be charged the monthly Membership fee of Fifty-Eight Dollars and Seventy-Six Cents ($58.76) (“Monthly Fee”). Your first three (3) month supply of DazzlewhitePureTM will be shipped thirty (30) days from the date that your initial one (1) month supply was shipped in connection with your Trial Membership. Thereafter, for as long as your Membership remains active, your Active Credit Card will be charged for the Monthly Fee on a monthly basis, plus Shipping and Handling, every third month, for your ongoing Membership. You hereby authorize DazzlewhitePureTM (or its partners, affiliates and/or agents) to charge your Active Credit Card all such fees associated with Membership on a monthly basis. You acknowledge and agree that DazzlewhitePureTM will not obtain additional authorization from you for each installment of Monthly Fees charged to your Active Credit Card. All Monthly Fees will appear on your Active Credit Card bill as “Internet Access Fee and Membership.” Orders outside of US pay an additional Nine Dollars and Ninety-Five Cents ($9.95) for shipping and handling.

Ebook access, insider secrets, and weight loss information? What does that have to do with trying a tooth whitener?  And why are consumers being charged for these things?

For the Smile Brite product, there are even more expensive surprises:

*MOUSE PRINT:

In the event you do not cancel within ten days after you order your trial product, you will be automatically enrolled in our convenient home delivery plan and your credit card will be charged $92.37. Thereafter, 30 days from your initial order, you will be billed the monthly charge of $92.37 each month when product is sent to you.

These are all negative option plans (like the old-fashioned book clubs).  If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you get automatic shipments of products and bills every month.  Some say there isn’t enough time to cancel before the costly shipments and billing begins.

And just to add insult to injury, there are dozens of these tooth whitening websites with what appear to be personal stories of female bloggers who found a miracle in a tube. And surprise, these sites are suspiciously similar to one another in content and format. Even the comments that appear on some of these websites seem to be fabricated.  Someone named “Patty” commented on “Rachel’s Teeth Whitening Success Blog” saying that she “never tried a teeth whitening kit before so I have high hopes based on your success”.  Funny thing, this Patty person seems to have visited a LOT of teeth whitening sites and made the same exact comment on blogs that touted the whitening success claimed by Sandy, Karen, Manda, Anna, Allie, Cathy, Molly, Holly, et al.

A word to the wise: stick with over-the-counter whiteners or professional whitening services performed by a dentist.

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16 Comments

  1. It would be great if the credit card companies would come up with a way to manage recurring billing for the consumer.

    Or create rules that make use of EULA improper way of notifying consumers of billing.

    Comment by Dave J. — August 3, 2009 @ 12:29 pm
  2. Edgar,

    RIGHT ON, BROTHER!!!!! Good article. I just feel so stupid not reading through the entire deal, especially the “mouse print”. I still can’t get over the charges from a different named seller (for the exact same amount) the very next month after finally getting my first subscription cancelled by the credit card bank!!!

    Keep up the good work…I love your weekly newsletter!

    Warmest regards,
    Don

    Comment by Don Elliott — August 3, 2009 @ 10:13 pm
  3. I too fell for this enticing offer regarding the Dazzle White teeth whitener. What happened to me was the sample came in the mail, no box, without any instructions, not even a phone number to call. By the time I had any further info, this company had already struck my credit card…not just once for the $58, then again 14 days later! I’m now in the middle of getting this sorted out with my credit card company.

    Thanks for the work you do. It saves a lot of people heartaches!
    Regards,
    D

    Comment by DL Barcus — August 4, 2009 @ 3:08 pm
  4. I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy for anyone that falls for these scams. Use some common sense and think before you sign up for any free offer that requires a credit card. Always read the T&Cs (terms & conditions) as well any privacy policy, refund policy, billing policy, etc. Always look to see if the company provides a phone number as well as a mailing address. And last but not least… if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Everyone is out to make a buck.

    Comment by Kitti — August 9, 2009 @ 3:45 pm
  5. I saw a similar scam for a weight loss product. Obviously they try comraderie but my tip off was in the “story” of how great the product worked for them, the number, sexes and names of their children changed…just a little suspicious.

    Comment by Dharla — August 18, 2009 @ 5:24 pm
  6. I saw the terms and conditions right after I ordered. I called to cancel 5 min after my order and they told me they had no way to contact the shipping department (yeah right). I would just have to send the product back as soon as I received it, but that they would go ahead and cancel my account. I returned it the day I got it, checked the tracking number, it was received 7 days later, still 9 days before my 14 day trial period was up. Nine days later they STILL CHARGED ME $58. (I also noticed the name change. When they charged s&h it was dazzle white. The charge for $58 was Dazzle Smile.) I called to let them know that I had returned and they had received the product and they told me they would refund my money, but it takes 5-10 days……I can’t believe I fell for this either! They are refunding no problem, it has just been a hassle.

    Comment by kristi — August 18, 2009 @ 7:23 pm
  7. Fine print is broken…

    Photo by Cayusa
    In Brazil, my native country, it’s illegal to use confusing terminology and/or small font in contracts and advertisements, as a mechanism to protect consumers against tricks to convince them to buy a product or service without fully u…

    Trackback by IT'S BROKEN — August 18, 2009 @ 10:11 pm
  8. If something is free, why would they need your Credit card at all?

    That’s my test when I see/hear about free stuff on the Internet.

    Comment by Chetan — August 19, 2009 @ 3:32 pm
  9. Well, I fell for it, too. And I’m a Mensa member! Geez. I called to cancel within 24 hours of ordering. Of course, it was “too late” for them to stop the shipments of the “free samples”. Imagine that! I was able to cancel my membership and get a cancellation number, but that’s on the condition I return the free samples within the 14 day window. Sure hope I even receive the samples within that window! LOL.

    Live and learn …… but I sure hate the spanking I’ll take trying to get this off my credit card. You just know they have all their bases covered there, and will use every excuse they can come up with to rook you out of your money.

    Good luck to all.

    Comment by Janice Dowden — October 15, 2009 @ 8:33 pm
  10. I was tricked by the same article claiming a housewife had discovered a way of super teeth whitening by purchasing two trials costing her $3. I signed up for one of them and then realised they would charge me $87 dollars if I decided to keep it. Not really a free trial at all then. Luckily I called the same day to cancel my membership to prevent them sending any more and got away with paying $11 for shipping one way and £17 the other. I am still annoyed about it but no complaints can be made as it is all in the TERMS AND CONDITIONS which are well worth reading through with any free trials or companies such as this one.

    Comment by Daisy — November 12, 2009 @ 11:22 am
  11. In Sept.27, I ordered a free trial of teeth whitener, billed on my credit card as “Purely White LLC” from Atlanta, GA for 1.95, and received it within days, without statement, address of sender, telephone # or e-mail.
    I received my credit card billing statement on 11/12/09 and to my dismay was charged by “Pure White” from Fl $89.95. Two weeks ago I received an order with 2 teeth-whitening pens which I promptly returned to sender.
    On that same credit card statement, there was an additional billing for 10/31/2009 of $95.90 billed by “Teeth White”, Nevada.
    I called immediately the phone # on the credit card statement from FL and was told that they do not give refunds. However since I had returned the order, they would give me a partial refund (deducting re-storage plus shipping fees).

    I questioned the billing from Nevada under the name “Teethwhite” and the cust. service man denied they had any company under that name. So I called the NEV # and it turned out that the cust. sce man was the same person I had talked to at the so-called FL number.

    Please assist me in options I can follow to get my 10/31/09 charge refunded…and for which I received no order. This site definitely operates under fraudulent means. I am elderly and surely cannot afford such outrageous prices. All I wanted was to try the product. Thank you for any help.

    Comment by Florie Alandt — November 13, 2009 @ 8:48 am
  12. I’m embarrassed to say that I fell for this with CleanWhites. I read the fine print after the second part of the order. Each part would charge $79.95 a month after a 14 day trial. When I called to cancel the woman was very nice and told me no charges would be applied. In answer to the person saying beware if they ask you for a credit card, they did need it for shipping charges ($0.99 and $1.95).

    The only smart thing I did was use virtual credit card numbers from my CitiCard MasterCard. I generated two new numbers online and put a $10 max on them. So the worst case for me is to lose $20.

    Comment by Paul — November 30, 2009 @ 3:20 am
  13. Florie Alandt, why go under all the trouble to get a partial refund? Call your credit card company tell them you have been scammed online by this fake company and let them do the investigation. Mean while, they will freeze any additional charge coming in from that “teethwhite” company and your credit card company should be able to give you an initial refund. Addtional precaution: make sure to keep the return tracking number for the package, so that you can prove to credit card company that you have returned the item but not getting refund back.

    I’m sure if there are this many complaints on this here, them credit card company has probably put “teethwhite” company on their scam radar.

    Anyway, I have this happen to me once before, I called the company and they say they don’t even know me, so I can my credit card company told them I have been scammed online.

    GoodLuck

    Comment by Oranns — December 17, 2009 @ 12:46 am
  14. I also fell for this ridiculous scam! Now I am being charged by 5 different companies! I’ve been charged over $200 for products I haven’t even opened since I returned everything I was sent. I was told I would get a refund from Dazzle White but have received nothing back and it’s been over a month since the product was returned. I normally don’t sign up for promotional offers and will definitely never do it again!

    Comment by April — December 19, 2009 @ 1:31 pm
  15. I can’t beleive I fell for this! I havent been charged anything yet and still havent received the initial trial however am trying to avoid all these charges and cancel but can’t seem to find a number to do this at? can anyone help? My card was charged for the inital shipping fee from dentapearl. If anyone knows contact info for this company it would be very much appreciated!

    Comment by Karla — April 21, 2010 @ 2:33 pm
  16. Hi have been reading about the tooth whitener scam, afraid I fell for it too, tried to find the website for the housewife who tried this and how amazing it was but cant find it, I sent away the postage and got the free trial and then forgot about it, wasnt until a couple of weeks later I say something on television saying to watch out giving bank details for free stuff because if it is free you shouldnt have to pay any costs, tried to find email from company but must have deleated it and cant find website, called bank and they told me that I have been charged £62.62 from Everwhiteskit. I asked them what I could do and they said they would write to the company cancelling any subscription and would try to stop further charges being withdrawn from my bank card. I also cancelled my visacard and will recieve a new one with a new number, they also give me a phone number to cancel any subscriptions which is 0018888692674 but when I ring there is an answering machine saying to phone back in office hours, guess this is because it is an American company and I am in UK. Cant tell you how upset I am about all this, I can honestly say I never saw any small print about terms and conditions and thought I was only paying for the postage of a free trial. If anyone can help please get in touch.

    Comment by Angela — May 25, 2010 @ 8:05 am

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