Reporting Kurtis Ming
A Pollock Pines couple was unknowingly charged $30 for seven months for a discount health program. They swear they didn’t sign up for it. When the company refused a full refund, they called Kurtis.
Edward Aldrich is a savvy online shopper. When his wife, Nora, finds something she likes in a store, Edward tells her to hold off.
“He tells me, ‘Let me go online and see if I can get it cheaper.’ And usually he does,” says Nora.
Back in March, he bought Nora a few bras she wanted from Amerimark.com. It was a grand total of about $44. Then months later, he found Amerimark had been charging $30 to his credit card every month, for the past seven months. Edward called Amerimark immediately.
“I said, ‘What’s these charges?’ I said, ‘We didn’t order any more bras. What’s going on?’ And he says, ‘Oh, it’s your Passport to Health supplement plan.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’”
Edward says Amerimark told him he signed up for a free trial of a discount health program. When he didn’t cancel after 30 days, they started charging him. It’s called negative-option marketing, because if you don’t opt out, you give permission to charge you.
“These are big money-makers for companies because they just show up as small charges on your credit card bill,” says Gary Almond, president of the Northeast California Better Business Bureau.
Almond says companies must follow state and federal laws that require consumer notification of these programs.
“This has to be clear and conspicuous. It can’t be hidden,” says Almond.
Edward has kept receipts for every online purchase he’s made in the past decade. When he went back to look at his Amerimark receipt, he saw nothing about the Passport to Health program.
“They should have sent me a membership card, or you know, a brochure on it, or whatever, but they didn’t,” says Edward.
Edward was only able to get three months of charges refunded, so we called Amerimark. Edward says soon after, the company called him. He says Amerimark claimed Nora called the initial order in and agreed to the extra health program verbally. Edward insists the order was made online. Despite the disagreement, Amerimark refunded Edward the rest of his money.
“It will feel like a small victory. But I just hope it goes a little further, that they quit scamming people. It’s just not right,” says Edward.