Be careful with "free samples" online

5/7/2013

ECC Sweden and the Swedish consumer agency keeps receiving complaints and reports from consumers that have purchased health products online. Because of this we once again want to put out a warning about seemingly free samples. The risk of being fooled is imminently. 

It was in march that ECC Sweden warned about offers from the trademarks Beaudify, Corexin and Green Detox and the companies behind the brands – Blue Code Ventures, Health C-P and Formezones.

Many complaints and reports

Yet again we are getting many new complaints about companies and products that are sold and marketed in the same or similar way. These companies sell their products on the internet via ads or surveys. They also try selling their products by offering the consumers free trials or test packages. These ads or offers often lead the consumer to sites that looks like professional new sites where a “journalist” tells you about the positive effects of different compounds. On the same site there are links to order forms where a “free sample” can is offered.

These products are either sold with cheap test packages, or given away for free with only the cost of shipment. Afflicted consumers have ordered a test package which they have paid for by debit card.

Stuck in subscription

The problems often begins for the consumer shortly after the order is made, when they realize that they have been left with a deal that they never agreed upon. This means that they are forced to pay large sums in a subscription that they don’t even knew that they had agreed to. Since the consumer have paid with debit card the company can continue to withdraw money from the consumers account, according to the conditions in the contract. The conditions can be both hard to understand and hard to find in the first place. The contract can also be hard to be released from since the companies can be hard to reach.

This method is used by a big range of companies that often change their name and webpage by routine. In addition to the companies previously warned about, we recommend that consumers watch out for the following trademarks and companies:

  • Vitalife Detox
  • Slimatrex
  • Green coffee burn (Shape Focus)
  • Clean Detox
  • Slimvida

Are you, or anyone you know, afflicted?

  • Read your order confirmation thoroughly. This is you how you can detect that your offer will become a subscription. If you have not gotten an order confirmation you can contact the company to claim one.
  • By law you have right to a cooling off period. Write to the company and invoke this. Explain that you do not want to continue with the purchase. Save your receipt and a copy of all other correspondence. You can also contact the company by email if they have an email address. Remember to save any email conversations.
  • You have the right to a demand refund of what you have paid, including shipment. If you have paid by credit card you can ask your bank to block the transfer.  
  • Do not use the product when it is delivered. The goods have to be unused for you to be able to invoke the cooling off period.
  • When you return the unused good, you have to pay for the shipment yourself.
  • After you have invoked the cooling off period the deal is cancelled and the company is not allowed to withdraw any more money from you. Make a complaint to your bank if the company keeps withdrawing money, and use your cooling off correspondence as a reference.

Report to the consumer agency

We want to get complaints and reports about companies that uses these and similar marketing and selling methods. You can make a report by clicking on the link next to this article.

Personal advice from ECC Sweden

If you need personal advice or guidance you can turn to us at ECC Sweden. We can give you advice free of charge, concerning cross-border trade in Europe.