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Vanity and greed – two human conditions that see many a consumer part ways with their money.
Tell people that they’ve won a pile of money, or that there’s a miracle potion or pill that will magically make their fat or wrinkles disappear, and you can be sure that enough of them will fall for it to make you very rich indeed.
Scores of SA women are being duped by adverts on Facebook and other sites into giving their credit card details to a company purporting to be a Danish “anti-ageing” cosmetics company, for a relatively inexpensive “trial sample”, only to have their accounts debited for more than R1 600.
I’ve had quite a few complaints from victims of this “subscription” scam, and posts are pouring in to complaints website HelloPeter.
The anti-ageing range is called Formlife, and the company claims to be “Nordic Health Group APS” of Denmark, but as this is the internet we’re talking about, who knows?
I did try to get a response from the company, via the e-mail address on its website, but had no reply.
The site features very obviously doctored before and after photos of women who have purportedly reversed the clock by at least 20 years by using Formlife’s products.
It invites consumers to pay just R30, including shipping and “handling”, for a trial “welcome pack” of products.
Under that invitation appears a smaller, fainter paragraph that reads: “By using credit card (sic), you accept that it is automatically charged for deliveries according to the agreed terms and conditions, unless otherwise stated.”
Under that is the section requiring consumers to fill in their credit card details, and under that, in even smaller print: “I hereby confirm that I am over 18 years. I have read the terms and conditions and I accept them.”
The site has pre-placed a tick in the confirmation box, so the order can be processed without the consumer actually ticking the box themselves, to confirm that they have indeed read the Ts and Cs.
Very dodgy practice.
Because by clicking on the words “terms and conditions” in that section, you get to discover what you’re actually agreeing to – and it’s a very far cry from just a R30 welcome pack.
You’re agreeing to “enter into an agreement about current subscription… and to pay for the welcome package and the first ordinary consignment”.
Two weeks after the welcome package is sent, R1 545 will be charged for the “discount club”, plus R90 for shipping. Then three months later, another R1 635, and so on. That’s R6 540 a year.
And it’s all right there on the site.
Many have panicked on seeing R1 635 debited on their credit card statement, and have cancelled their credit cards.
The thing is, the advertising of the offer is most definitely hideously misleading, but the terms and conditions, accessible via the payment page, do reveal the subscription, and the cost.
Anyone who bothered to click and read would never go ahead and supply their credit card details.
As I’ve been saying for years, the smaller and more boring the print looks, the more important it is for you to read it – whether online or on paper.
Rather gloss over the large print, and spend your time sweating the small stuff.
And don’t be so quick to enter your credit card details on obscure websites.