Even after an investigation by the U.S. government, most online retailers who participate in a marketing gimmick that appears to deceive online consumers continue in this practice unabated. What is being called a ‘scam,’ ‘robbery,’ and ‘theft’ by consumers and U.S. senators involves a marketing scheme that dupes the consumer into signing up unknowingly to monthly charges. The online retailers involved state it is the consumers’ fault, not theirs.
Here is how the alleged scam operates. Once a consumer completes a transaction, what appears as a $10 refund coupon pops up on the screen. If a consumer accepts the terms of the coupon, they are automatically billed a monthly charge. Most consumers do not realize that the retailer provides your credit card information to the companies running these ads.
At CNET, a recent article states:
Now, the bad news: the marketers–Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty–are still in business and judging from the responses of many of the retailers involved, such as Priceline, Classmates.com, FTD, Shutterfly, and Orbitz, it will be business as usual. They see nothing wrong with the marketing practices that millions of angry online shoppers and members of the U.S. Senate have called a “scam,” “robbery” and “theft.”
The inference is clear: The people complaining about this are the ones who screwed up. The terms of the deal were all in the ad so that means anyone who was charged the monthly fee either wanted it at the time or was negligent.
One would think that this would be a simple matter to fix. The online retailer can insert a big bold disclosure stating this is a membership agreement and you will be charged a monthly fee. But this doesn’t appear to be what the online retailers wish to do. They see a money making machine and will continue to scam the consumer.
So what do you think? Scam, or the fault of consumers for not reading the fine print?
Should these sites be boycotted if they continue to use these ads?