Not sure what your definition of a scam is, but there are certainly some scummy practices that can getcha if you're not careful. Here's one that I think you'll appreciate a heads-up on.
Anyone in my family will tell you that I'm highly susceptible to kitchen gadgets and cookbooks. I love kitchen things that make the work more efficient and approach common tasks in a different way. I mean, just a couple of weeks ago, I purchased an egg cracker that I thought was so cool, I bought 4 of them and gave them as gifts to my family members, who also like cooking. (For the record, cracking eggs against a bowl is now so yesterday at our house.)
Of course, anything with the word 'gourmet' attracts my attention like watermelon at a picnic attracts ants. This one particular item was attractive because not only do many members of my household enjoy cooking, they love history. I mean, really. "Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome"? That would be perfect for someone I know.
Enticing, right? My response was practically automatic. "CLICK HERE!" reads the ad. My fingers clicked. Free shipping, too. "The world's oldest cookbook... Exclusive..."
By the way, I've found that this particular practice always seems to send the ads out on Saturdays. The problem is, their customer service phone line isn't open until Monday. Somehow, I can't believe that's an oversight...
When I clicked, it took me to a website called, "Gourmet Cooking". Here's the link, but be warned about getting sucked in: GourmetCookingOnline.
It was only $9.95. Perfect gift for that special someone (I hope they don't read this article, it will spoil the surprise.) Yes, I confess. I clicked the "Add to Cart" button.
It took me to "step 2 of 3" and asked for my payment information. I typed it in, then clicked next. But, it didn't take me to a confirmation page. Oh, no. It took me to another special, exclusive offer. One that they make sure is very difficult to resist. This is where the scummy practice comes in.
You'll notice it has a big red button that says, "YES! I Want It For $1 Now!" Below that, in very tiny, light gray letters it says, "No Thanks. Just Proceed With My Order." (I added the arrow and highlighting. Trust me, they won't do that for you.)
Even further below is the gotcha:
Even further below is the gotcha: "*Void where prohibited. Other terms, conditions, and restrictions may apply. This offer is subject to change or termination without notice. Pay only $1 + $9.95 S&P today. After 30 days, you will be charged just 2 monthly payments of $19.95." Depending on the offer, the monthly prices change.
So, I clicked the "No thanks, just proceed" text. It took me to another offer, equally enticing. This second offer had the same 'gotcha' at the bottom. I clicked the "No thanks" again, only to be taken to yet another offer and gotcha page. There were ten of these offers, all truly too good to be true. Finally, after several special offers flashed by, at the top of the page was a new button. "Skip Special Offers >>" With a sense of gratitude I clicked that button, and escaped the trap.
Why am I telling you about this? Well, it's just possible that I may have been bit at sometime in the past by this scummy practice. When I called to complain and cancel my order, the message informed me that the office wasn't open until Monday. When I went to their "Contact Us" form found at the bottom of the page, the captcha was missing, disabling the page and I could not click send. Notice that there is no email address to send a complaint to. I did call on the following Monday and they promised to give me a $10 credit, but I told them I was going to send back their scummy products anyway.
I've found two website names that participate in this practice, I think they're connected. They have the same logo at the top of their pages. Be careful! These links are dangerous: shopgourmetcooking.com and gourmetcookingonline.com I think there's a golf one, too. My guess is that there are lots of these types of sites that cover a wide variety of topics.
In the meantime, be sure to read the fine print. The old adage that, "If it seems too good to be true, it is," certainly applies here.
What can you do?
1. Don't order anything at all.
2. Buy only what you want, and ignore their special offers.
3. READ the fine print. Read every word on that webpage or email. If you get the heebie-jeebies and think it's a trick, believe it.
4. Look for a comparable product on a trustworthy site, such as Amazon. (I love my egg cracker, by the way.) The price may even be cheaper.
5. If you get the product and feel tricked, or you don't like it, send it back immediately. Be sure to track the shipment and save all paperwork. Call and tell them you're sending it back. If you want to tell them what you think of their practices, do that, too!
6. If you really feel you were scammed, you can contact the Arizona Attorney General's office the FTC or the Better Business Bureau just to start. It doesn't hurt to tell the company you're dealing with that you plan to file complaints with these agencies. It might get more immediate action from the company. Always try getting satisfaction first (assume most of these agencies won't fix your problem, they'll just try to prevent others from the scam), and then if you still feel you were treated unfairly, go ahead and file complaints.
Have you ever been tricked with online ads? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.