September 22, 2016
by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education
The best things in life are free … or are they? Not when a “free” trial ends up costing you money. That’s what happened to many people who signed up for “free” samples from NutraClick, according to the FTC’s latest case.
NutraClick sells nutritional supplements and beauty products including Force Factor, Peak Life, ProBioSlim, SomnaPure, VolcaNO, and Stages of Beauty. You can find their products online or in stores like Walgreens, Walmart, GNC and CVS. Their ads offer free samples. But if you signed up for free samples, NutraClick didn’t clearly tell you that you were also enrolling in a monthly membership program for nutritional supplements, costing $30 to $80 per month.
Where did NutraClick go wrong? The FTC says it didn’t clearly explain the terms of its free offers. Instead, NutraClick automatically charged people every month unless they called the company to cancel their membership.
Under a settlement between the FTC and NutraClick, the company must clearly tell you that ordering free samples automatically enrolls you in a monthly payment plan. Plus, the company must make clear how much you will be charged, the length of the trial period, and the way you can stop the recurring charges. NutraClick also must pay $350,000.
Considering other free offers? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Do your research. See what other people are saying about the free trials and the company. Search the name of the company and “complaint” or “review.”
Look at the terms and conditions. If you can’t find them, or can’t understand them, don’t sign up.
Find out how to cancel. Look for information on what to do if you don’t want the product anymore. Do you still have to pay? Do you have a limited time to cancel?
Mark your calendar. Your free trial offer probably has a time limit. Once it passes without you cancelling, you may owe money.
Read your credit and debit account statements. That way, you’ll know right away if you’re being charged for something you didn’t order.
Want to know more? Check out our guidance on “Free” Trial Offers. And if you’ve been wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC.