Radialabs, a company that touts its wrinkle-reducing face cream as “the fountain of youth in a bottle,” has left a trail of disgruntled customers across the nation- including Tucson- Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona warns.
Consumers say that Florida-based Radialabs, sellers of “Instant Wrinkle Reducer,” offered them free trial samples for $3.95 postage but then charged their credit cards $74.95 or more when they failed to cancel the orders and return the samples in 18 days.
BBB also has concerns about Radialabs’ advertising claims and suspicious consumer testimonials on its website.
Radialabs has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible. Consumers from 43 states, including Tucson, have filed nearly 200 complaints involving Radialabs in the last 12 months.
Kim States, BBB President, said Radialabs’ marketing takes advantage of a so-called “negative option” to sell its face cream. That means that unless consumers cancel within a specified period, they will be charged for the sample product as well as for any future shipments.
Several complainants told the BBB they were not aware of the terms of the offer; others said they were aware of the terms, but had difficulty canceling in time to avoid the additional charges.
“Businesses like Radialabs don’t make money giving away free samples,” States said. “If a company wants your credit card number for a $3.95 payment, chances are it wants more than just $3.95. It’s crucial that consumers read and understand all terms and conditions of any online sale.”
Officials with Radialabs did not respond to a BBB request for information.
Similar “negative option” websites, selling everything from tooth whiteners to health products to cosmetics, have come under fire from state agencies in recent years. In most cases, the businesses offered a sample or free trial and then charged the consumer full price when it was not returned on time.
BBB offers the following tips to consumers considering free or reduced-price offers:
- Be cautious when ordering free trials or free samples via the Internet, especially if you are asked for a credit card number. In many cases, you will be charged full price for the trial product unless you return it by a specified deadline.
- Read the website carefully, especially the section marked “terms and conditions.” It is that section where you usually will find any restrictions or added charges tied to the trial offer.
- Be alert to fine print and be careful when clicking a box authorizing recurring charges.
- If you want to return the trial offer before additional charges go into effect, make sure you follow the return rules. Some companies will reject your cancellation request if you do not follow the instructions exactly.
- Get a BBB Business Review by going to www.tucson.bbb.org or by calling (520)888-5353.