Unwanted shipments following free trial offer

April 24, 2018

Dear Consumer Ed:

I responded to an online ad for a free trial offer of skin cream. I received the cream and my credit card was charged $4.95 as stated. A month later, I received another jar of the skin cream, and my credit card was charged $94.99.  I never ordered that second jar of cream.  Then the following month I received another jar and there was another $94.99 charge to my credit card.  It was a big hassle to get the company to refund my money. I never asked to be sent additional products after the free trial offer. Didn’t the company violate the law by doing this?

Consumer Ed says:

Georgia law states that no business should require payment for providing goods or services after the expiration of a free trial period without the consumer’s consent. Georgia law also provides that so-called “negative option” marketing may be an unfair or deceptive practice under the Fair Business Practices Act.

You should review the terms of the original promotion to see if you agreed to continuously renew your subscription for this product.  If you did not agree, then the company may be violating the law. If the advertisement and terms did state that this was an automatically-renewing agreement, but did not do so in a clear and conspicuous manner, the company might still have violated the law.

You can report violations to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit at consumer.ga.gov or by calling (404) 651-8600.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.