Bored and curious
In January, I went to my local paper to see if an article I’d written had been used. I was bored, looking for something to write about and clicked casually on the clickbooth box ad. This lead me to an article that I didn’t notice at first was a marketing promotion.
The article led me to two websites. Each offered limited trial bottle offers. I don’t want or need beauty products but thought ‘what the heck?’
They asked for my card details for the cost of postage. Stupidly, yes, I gave these. A few days later the products arrived and then I found my bank account had been charged £174. I called my bank and they said this company were protected by their terms and conditions.
I went to their terms and conditions and found:
“Our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee: If you are not 100% satisfied for any reason, you can return the unused products in their original packaging up to 30 days after you purchase it for a full refund of the purchase price” (full terms under T&C’s).
Therefore, I posted the items back. Also, I:
- Went to both websites, logged in (log-in details provided in their confirmation/shipping emails).
- I switched off Auto-renew and Auto-ship (yes, notice the two different names) on each website.
- I called the phone number, which after welcoming you and saying to press #, went silent.
- I informed through the contact form on both websites saying I was cancelling and returning my products.
- I wrote to them through the support email address provided.
- I posted a letter to their head office in North London.
After an email telling me I’d be missing out (all that fun of having money taken from my account and having to spend days reading terms and conditions and queuing at the post office), I was asked for proof of return, which I sent.
I reported them to my bank, who now refund any money they take from me, to the Advertising Standards Authority and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, now the government have removed the teeth of the Trading Standards Office or Office of Fair Trading, basically handing these companies a free rein.
I got replies. Here are what they sent me:
Email 1 (20 Feb): Please give us a tracking ID as proof of return and we will refund your charge.
If you cannot provide us with a tracking ID, please sent a picture of the receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
If you cannot provide us with proof of return We will issue a full refund for the charge to you, once we receive your returned product.
Email 2 (25 Feb): Thank you for the proof of return, we have refunded your charge. There will be no further shipments or charges to your account.
Email 3 (26 Feb):
That is correct, we refunded you on 2013-02-25 14:31 and the money should appear in 2-3 business days.
I thought it was over. Totally wrong. These people don’t worry about things like fairness or even rulings from the ASA if they can put their hands into your bank account. Obviously the products are worthless as they send them out even when they’re so obviously not wanted. After all I had not used them and sent them back at the cost to me of £17.45.
You’d think it would now be over? No, these people have just gotten started. On 16 March, I got a text from my bank informing me that a card transaction was trying to go through, made in Mauritius and I was to call them if I was concerned. I called and was on my mobile to the bank for one hour. In this time, I was told that Collagenta were trying to charge me £69.95. I blew my top.
The fraud team then told me that the payment had not gone through, that I would be refunded if it did and they could see the refunds from this company and that there was a note on my account not to give these people any more money. What stopped the bank blocking these charges was that DS Marketing (the company responsible) were using different names and different countries. On the 20 March I got another such warning text and called the bank again. This time it was a company called Defying Age that was trying to access my money. This was blocked. Then I was told they might not charge me but if they did manage, to call again and I would be refunded.
More Shipments and ChargesI received 2 more packages from them. I went back to the websites and found that THEY had changed the Auto-ship/Auto-renew back!
So I wrote to them saying that I had returned the items, been refunded, written to them several times and been told that no more shipments or charges would be made.
I got this reply from Tessy Matthews on 24 March:
Thanks for getting in touch with us. Please allow me to explain our Beauty Ship policies.
With regards to the Beauty Ship program, it is designed with your convenience in mind, whereas we send can you replenishment products at a certain rate. We offer you a wide range of Beauty Ship choices to best suit your lifestyle and needs: we can send you replenishment products monthly (which is the default option), every 6 weeks, every 2 months or even every 3 months. Each replenishment shipment is only GBP 68.82, which would be charged according to your preferred replenishment frequency. Of course, you may decide to keep your trial bottle and cancel Beauty Ship going forward, the choice is yours! You can always order replenishment products manually via our webstore, or ask us to reenable Beauty Ship for you.
Please note that in our system we don’t have your written confirmation that you wish to cancel your account with us.
If you are not happy with your products simply send them back to us and we will proceed full refund for you.
To save you time and hassle, I can offer to let you keep the serum for only **GBP 44.00** and refund the rest of the charge to you. This is a great deal, as our Serum sells for over GBP 200 at retail locations, so you’d get to have it for a fraction of its cost and not worry about return shipping and such associated costs.
Please confirm if this option is acceptable for you.
As per your request, I have cancelled your AutoRefill profile and thus any further automatic shipments of replenishment products to you. There will be no further automatic charges to your account.
Customer Satisfaction Specialist
Collagenta Serum, a product of DS Marketing Limited
For my convenience? Oh, very convenient that I had lost days of work, read all their terms and conditions, found my original emails, logged into both websites, written through their weedy ‘support’ or ‘contact’ form to say I’m returning the products, emailed them, reported them to all and sundry. For my conveeeeeenience that I’d packed the products up, walked to my post office and spent a further £17.45 sending them back. Then more convenience, aren’t I lucky, that the refund doesn’t arrive, so I have to email proof of postage and then get my refund. So for my utter convenience, that I have to call the bank 3 times and am totally distracted from my work, life and deadlines to deal with a company that has CHANGED THE AUTO-SHIP AND AUTO-RENEW in my account back to monthly!!!!! aw geeeee. So conveeeeeeeeeenient.
The good news is that the bank will fine them for using different names to get around the block on my account.
Also, I have written proof that no more shipments would be made and no more charges made to my account, and then there were.
The bank refunded the money taken. I have the products so if anyone wants them, I’ll send them to you free of charge.
Here are the various transactions on my account.