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Q: I recently ordered something from a TV program, and I thought it would only be a one-time purchase. It was actually free, but I had to pay the shipping and handling fees, which turned out to be twenty dollars. Now, I’m getting billed from the company for other purchases. What gives?
A: For those of you who aren’t familiar with credit card “rebill” scams, these occur when you accept a “free” offer from a company. You’ve seen them before-for modest shipping and handling fee, you can receive a free product. You never have to buy anything else again, and the free product is yours to keep.
Right away, the fact that YOU have to pay the shipping and handling fee should be a red flag. If the offer is truly free, then there should be no charges at all. However, that S&H fee, as it’s sometimes referred to, is just a way to get your credit card number, and that’s when the trouble starts.
Once the company has your number, billings for their product continue, usually on a regular monthly basis. This happens even if you never, ever buy any more of that product again. The billings can be very high, sometimes as much as $80 or more.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do. Repeated calls to the company may get you some results, but most likely you’ll be given the runaround or told that it will be taken care of (it isn’t) or they’ll tell you that accepting the free product means you understand the billing would occur.
About all you can do is contact the Better Business Bureau and other consumer protection agencies, and spread the word about this company’s practices. The only way you may be able to get the billings stopped once and for all is to cancel the card.