20 September 2012
European Consumer Centre Finland has lately received many complaints regarding sample products advertised on Facebook under the product names Total detox, Smile Away, Winner Smoke, WaistWinner and Reducil. Consumers believed ordering a free sample package, but as the package was delivered it was stated that the consumer has committed to a three-month subscription. The undue invoice does not need to be paid, although the company threatened consumers with debt collection. However, a complaint should be made in written form.
According to consumers, they had ordered a free diet or teeth whitening products or electric cigarettes following an ad on Facebook. Upon reception of the test package, consumers received an invoice for the delivery costs as well as a notice according to which that they have, by ordering a free sample pack, committed to a three month subscription.
Watch out before making any order
According to the terms of condition, posted with the test package, it is said that the consumer can cancel the sample pack order, but it requires that the packages remained unopened. The subsequent deliveries cannot be cancelled under these conditions.
According to the European Consumer Centre, the consumers should be allowed to try the product in the test package without any extra fee. After testing the product, the consumer can decide whether he wants to receive more of the same product. Now, however, the consumer is obliged to receive deliveries during a period of three months.
The European Consumer Centre reminds the consumers that it is always needed to be alert for web-based marketing, which refers to free samples. What do you actually order? Is it really just a free product sample or is it a long term commitment? If the contract terms are available on a website, they should be carefully read.
Make a written complaint to the invoicing company
If the consumer has received an undue invoice or is committed against his will to an order, he must urgently make a written complaint by e-mail for instance. It is important to save a copy of the complaint should it be needed at a later stage.
In the complaint, the purpose of the complaint should be mentioned. The consumer can, for example, mention that the marketing was misleading and therefore the consumer was unaware entering into a contract with the trader. The consumer shall also write that no further deliveries are desired. The already received deliveries may be returned.
Consumers have also encountered difficulties in paying the companies’ invoices. The reference number on the invoices turned out to be wrong in many cases.
If the consumer, after having sent a complaint, receives a reminder on behalf of the undue invoice, where it is threatened with debt collection, consumer does not need to pay the invoice. The invoicing company’s duty is to show that the invoice is grounded. Payment default takes place when if the invoicing company brings the matter to court and the latter considers the invoice grounded.
Additional information for consumers:
European Consumer Centre Finland
Telephone 029 553 9500, Mon–Fri 10–13