Ask Stacy: Ordering Flowers Online Can Cost You Hundreds

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We’ve all fallen victim to shady marketing ploys and other ill-conceived and sometimes evil plots to separate us from our money. Following is an email I recently received…

I have been scammed by EASY SAVERS monthly deduction of $14.95 a month for a year simply because I was not paying attention to a dormant credit card that was left on autopay. I contacted my Chase Credit Card representative who was able to regain 6 months of deductions, but I’m out the other 6 months because I let checking my statement monthly ride AND apparently, inadvertently signed up for something without reading the small print. I went to the web to get more information and LOTS of people are complaining about the scam and are connecting it to Proflowers orders. Have you covered this topic on your blog or any other method of communications? I read your daily email and just don’t remember seeing the topic. You have such an audience, perhaps there are others like me. Thanks for all your investigations and research. You are the first read of the day.
Gratefully,
Gail

Thanks for the kind words, Gail!

Gail’s right about one thing: She’s not alone. In fact, my girlfriend had something similar happen, albeit from a different flower website and a different “service.” While I don’t know exactly what happened in Gail’s case, one common scenario is that as you’re ordering something from a website, a coupon pops up that says you’ll get save 10 percent on your order by clicking on the popup. Unbeknownst to you, however, when you click, you enroll in some unrelated monthly service you didn’t want, need, or understand. The service gets your credit card info from the flower site, and bingo: You’ve got a $14.95 monthly leech sucking money from your credit card.

While not a scam in the sense that it’s outright theft, it’s certainly sneaky and shouldn’t be happening.

I went to the ProFlowers page of FlowerComplaint.com and did a search for Easy Savers. Result? Gail and my girlfriend have lots of company. A brief sampling:

“I just noticed that I have been charged $14.95 per month on my credit card from Easy Saver. I didn’t know what this was but in checking the internet, it appears that I am getting this charge because I have ordered from ProFlower in the past.”

“I got scammed by ProFlowers and EasySaver.Com for $239.20. People – CALL YOUR BANK OR CREDIT CARD COMPANY AND CANCEL YOUR DEBIT/CREDIT CARD IMMEDIATELY!! They will tell you that they will stop the charges and then they will DOUBLE it the next month. I called both companies multiple times and never received any response at all from ProFlowers. Easy Saver hotline personnel are totally surly (I spoke to “Bob” and the manager “Glen Jones” – in India – obviously made-up names) and all they do is try to barter with you about how much they are willing to refund you.”

“I was satisfied with the flowers that I ordered for my mom but am shocked that such a company would associate them selves with “East Saver”, a scam that takes your CC and charges you monthly for nothing! I never even realized this was happening because it is just $14.95 a month which is a small number but after a few years, I realized that this was not an authorized charge and disputed with my CC company to find that I was charged over $350!”

And that was just a few of many: You can find plenty more at that site, ripoffreport, and others. Just do a search for “complaints proflowers.com easysaver” and you’ll be reading for a while.

I called the ProFlowers.com media relations number and left a voice mail asking what the heck they were thinking when they started allowing their customers to unwittingly enroll in something like the EasySaver program. Thus far, no response. I didn’t bother calling EasySavers.

Lessons learned

So other than being wary of popups in general and ProFlowers.com in particular, what can we learn from Gail’s experience? If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, I’m sure you can name one thing right off the bat: Check your credit card statements!

Last August I wrote a post called 3 Tips to Avoid the Latest Credit Card Scam. The scam referred to was an international ring that raked in $10 million by putting fraudulent charges on thousands of consumer credit cards, sometimes in amounts as little as 20 cents. The scam worked because so many people either didn’t check their statements, or didn’t bother investigating small charges.

While I’m sure Gail has now learned this lesson, let’s make sure everyone else out there gets it. There is no such thing as a “dormant” credit card. If you are going to have a credit card, debit card or even a checking account, consider these simple steps as an ironclad condition of ownership:

  • Whenever you get any kind of communication that potentially involves changes to your net worth, you must read it.
  • If you become aware that someone is taking money from you – even 20 cents – that you don’t understand, you must do something about it.
  • If these steps are too onerous, you must use only cash.

Another lesson Gail’s experience can teach us is that it often pays to do a search of online vendors before offering up our credit card numbers. I put the words “proflowers.com complaints” into a search engine and it took .17 seconds to return 111,000 links. Granted, reading a few of the linked pages would take some time, but when weighed against Gail’s issue, isn’t that time well spent?

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