I’m a bit of a sucker for free stuff – samples at Costco, make-up application at the beauty counter and free skin care products too. I have a feeling I’m not alone….

SHOP ALL APOTHEKARI SKINCARE

Yet, there’s a new scam involving free stuff making the rounds and lots of people are being duped, including individuals who I know to be quite savvy when it comes to these kinds of things. You’ve probably seen the alluring ads, often accompanied by eye-catching headlines like “as seen on Shark Tank”, “Featured in Name a Magazine” or “Name a Celebrity’s Miracle Cream”. Many of the products claim to be recommended by Dr Oz. – almost guaranteed this is not the case. You’ll read about women who discovered miraculous breakthroughs, often in as little time as overnight. And, you’ll see LOTS of before/after photo-shopped pictures. These are not real results, rather images purchased from a number of websites that sell photos online.

The ads tend to follow a similar story line, often referencing a celebrity along with an everyday woman who accidentally discovered that by using one cream in the morning and another at night that their skin miraculously improved. You will sometimes see these ads following you around on Facebook. The free skin care trial usually includes a modest shipping fee along with free products. Who doesn’t want to find a cure for wrinkles? Especially if free skin care products are involved!

Unfortunately, these ‘free trials’ are not free. Signing up makes you turn over all your personal information – name, address, email, phone PLUS your credit card information (to pay for shipping). At the bottom of the sign-up form – usually waaaay down at the bottom – and in very small print, you are agreeing to try the product for 14 days or so, after which time you will be billed for the full price (in the region of $100) and then every 30 days to eternity for another month’s supply.

When you realize you’ve been duped and want to rectify the situation, it’s often impossible to reach the company because:

  • The companies sometimes publish non-existent phone numbers
  • They are based in countries without an extradition policy (i.e. Venezuela, Panama, Pakistan), which means that we have no recourse other than cancelling our credit cards to get out of the recurring arrangement.
  • Once the scam is discovered, some of the companies will close up shop and re-package products under a new name and start all over again.

If you have been scammed and want out, it’s a long and lengthy process back. Here’s what to do:

  1. Call the company and request they cancel your subscription and demand a refund. Since many of the companies don’t publish their phone numbers, this may be difficult. If this is the case, call your bank/credit card company and ask if they have it.
  2. Be firm and stand your ground. Don’t accept anything less than a full refund or cancellation as they will often try to placate you with a 50% refund or charge a restocking fee.
  3. Threaten to report them to the BBB if they won’t refund.
  4. Escalate your complaint to a supervisor and don’t back down.
  5. They will often put you on hold. FOREVER. Don’t hang up – continue to hold until you speak to someone.
  6. Ask for an email confirmation of your cancellation so that you have a record.

If all the above fail, call your credit card company and dispute the charges as fraudulent. The charges are sometimes reversed and may be blocked from further transactions. Cancelling your credit card isn’t enough – you must document your complaint with the credit card company and try to contact the manufacturer to avoid a potential collection letter down the road.

Free skin care trials won’t be going away anytime soon and the internet makes it very easy for these companies to proliferate. If you’ve been tricked, you’re not alone – many, many people have come before you and many more will follow. The Better Business Bureau offers some good tips for how to avoid online scams and I hope that this post has given you some additional strategies to fight back.

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Love, love, love!

I've only been using this serum for a couple of weeks and the difference in my skin is already noticeable. I have very sensitive skin and didn't have any irritation. I was able to use it daily from day 1. Love this product! It's going to be a staple in my arsenal from now on.

Works good but..

I have been using this deodorant for a couple weeks now and it works very well to keep door at bay. However it dries sticky and when I sweat it gets even more sticky. I will keep using fur a while to see if I can get past the sticky feeling, but not sure if I can. It’s too bad because it really does work.

Dear Sandy,

Thank you for your review. We're so pleased to hear that our deodorant is working very well for you! We're always happy to receive feedback from our customers as we try to improve our products. We will take your comment into consideration to improve the formulation. Thank you!

Customer Service

Terrible Rash

This worked for a few weeks and I started getting a painful red rash under my arms. I was about to purchase a set of 4 and I’m glad that I didn’t. I reached out to the company to inquire about what could have caused this as they claim to have products that don’t cause rashes. Of course no one ever replied. Will not purchase again

Dear Tara,

Thank you for your review. We're sorry to hear that you experienced a reaction to our deodorant. It's formulated to be irritation free (pH friendly ingredients and without baking soda). Very occasionally you may experience discomfort or tingling, especially after shaving or if you have sensitive skin.
We've checked our records and are unable to locate an email or call from you regarding this issue. We've tried reaching out via email but haven't heard back. We stand by all our products and offer a full money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied. Please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help resolve this issue.

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J
Neroli Rose Natural Deodorant Roll-On
Jennifer C. (Princeton, US)
It works!

Happy to finally found a natural deodorant that actually works- worth every penny. Excited to try more scents, especially the lavender when it is back in stock.

J
Shea Body Butter
Jennifer C. (Princeton, US)
My new fave

This cream is my new fave. It's moisturizing without being greasy and absorbs well. The scent is crisp and clean without being overpowering. My husband and son have started using it and love it too! Might need another one to keep by the kitchen sink.

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