BBB warns consumers about free CBD product trials

Watchful Eye

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to beware of “tricky” free trial offers for CBD products.

In an email alert, BBB Central Virginia said the BBB Scam Tracker has received dozens of reports from frustrated people who thought they were ordering a free trial of CBD, but instead that free offer cost some people hundreds of dollars.

How consumers get tricked

What happens is someone will see an ad from a company offering samples of CBD either on social media or an online search, BBB Central Virginia explained. The offer claims all you need to do is kick out a few dollars for the shipping and handling.

But after ordering the allegedly free product, the scammers have your credit card number. If you ever receive the sample, soon afterward, you are charged $80 - $100 for an ongoing monthly subscription. “Canceling this subscription is not easy,” the BBB email alert warns.

The companies behind these schemes give excuses about why you can’t cancel. These can range from claims of problems with the company’s computer system to claims that the time for cancellation has passed, BBB explained.

And some people who canceled, or were led to believe they had, still continued to be charged, the BBB noted.

Consumers share experiences

“You don’t find out until 3 weeks later that you have signed up for a subscription and you are charged $99,” BBB said one victim reported in its Scam Tracker. “They will not refund your money. They say you had 14 days to cancel (when you call them to complain) but there is no description of that on the website.”

“I thought I was receiving a free trial of CBD oil for just the postage charge of $4.95,” another victim in York County reported via BBB’s Scam Tracker. “I received the oil, and a charge was made to my credit/debit card. Two weeks later on 09/15/2020, I was charged an additional $89.99. Apparently, I signed up for a subscription that I didn't realize I was signing up for,” the individual continued.

“Regardless of the fact that I was hoodwinked out of $89.99, I never received any product except for the ‘free’ trial. I sure could use this money back because I am retired on a fixed income. If I am not mistaken, Mike from American Pickers was used as the spokesperson,” the victim added in the report.

BBB Central Virginia said these schemes are often centered around products allegedly endorsed by celebrities. Two celebrities' names that are popping up in these reports are ministers Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen, the organization said.

To help avoid these scams, BBB Central Virginia offers four tips:

  • · Be skeptical of celebrity endorsements and don’t let a well-known name sway your decisions.
  • · Research companies before placing orders. This can include checking reviews and a company’s BBB rating.
  • · Always read and ensure you understand the terms of the offer. Numerous victims of the CBD free trial con reported not ever seeing the terms and conditions. This is a huge red flag, said BBB Central Virginia.
  • · Keep an eye on your monthly statements and report losses to your credit card company. If you pay with a credit card, you can dispute fraudulent charges.

You can also sign up to get BBB scam alert emails that keep you hip to the games crooks are playing.

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