Money for nothing - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Money for nothing

By Ashley Glass - email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

(WFLX) - Purchasing the latest health products is not always cheap and easy after reading the small print. "Once you give them that, they can keep taking money out," said customer Nancy Jones. "It's a scam! It's really a scam!"

Customers from across the country feel financially ambushed by a company with an office in one Phoenix building. "Like I told you, I checked my debit account all the time. There's another $38.35 or $39.95, and I'm like, 'Oh no!'"

People say they took a risk free trial that came with a cost. "I was on hold for approximately an hour and 10 minutes before they disconnected me. No nothing, just disconnected," said Sheila Spencer. "I called back. I held another hour and about 20 minutes before they disconnected again."

The confrontation is with a company called central coast nutraceuticals which runs up to fourteen web sites.

They offer $1 risk free trials on popular pills and other health stuff. "I was interested in nothing in weight loss. I was just interested in a detox." 

Spencer got more than she asked for. "Zoloft gum that was $10, and this, whatever this is, Hoodia water, which was $29.95."

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said, "And it clearly was a scam." He took the company to court to stop marketing practices he feels went way too far.

Goddard said what the company didn't tell customers is it automatically signed them up for other stuff they later got charged for. "Without your permission, and, in some cases, these amounted to over a period of time hundreds of dollars. It was one of these negative options. If you read very carefully, I believe, you got to the very bottom, you had to uncheck a box."

Felicia Thompson added, "This company is misleading consumers on their Web site." Thompson, with the Better business Bureau, gave the company an "f" rating.

She says customers have a long list of complaints such as struggling to get their money back. "Well, the problem is the pattern of complaints. We're seeing the exact same type of complaint over and over again."

She says the Web sites entice customers with celebrity endorsements. "The problem is the celebrity isn't necessarily endorsing their product. They might have endorsed an ingredient in the product, so it's misleading in that sense."

"I thought I was getting a free trial for $5.95, and I wasn't."

The company's owner, Graham Gibson, declined an on-camera interview, but his lawyer e-mailed a statement saying: "The company is making every effort to address all customer inquiries. It is working vigorously to address those issues. Even within the largest, long-standing companies, some mistakes do happen."

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