Photo (cc) by Don Hankins
It can be easy to be enticed by a commercial for weight-loss items or other products on national TV. Before you know it, you’re on the phone, dialing the number on the screen to place an order.
But what if the order you received was of poor quality, incomplete or different from what was ordered. To make matters worse, returning the product, or getting a refund, is next to impossible.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, that’s what happened in a recent scam targeting Spanish-speaking Americans. The Hispanic Global Way allegedly routinely sent unordered or defective products, including a bogus weight-loss belt, to its Spanish-speaking customers.
If that isn’t bad enough, the FTC said returning the items or getting a refund was difficult, if not nearly impossible.
When consumers called to complain, telemarketers either ignored or insulted them, or told them they could not return or exchange products, or that they would have to pay a fee, ranging from $20 to $299, to do so. Those few consumers who were promised refunds or exchanges found they never materialized.
The settlement bans Hispanic Global Way, as well as several other defendants, from telemarketing or selling weight loss products.
“Under the settlement order, in any future business they must provide refunds or exchanges, free of charge, for incorrect or non-working products, for any program that differs from what was advertised, and when consumers don’t receive gifts promised as an inducement for a purchase,” the FTC said.
The settlement orders a $50 million judgment that will be “suspended upon surrender of all of the defendants’ significant assets.”
Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said: “This case serves as a warning to would-be scammers that targeting Spanish speakers is not a means to fly under the FTC’s radar.”
What’s your experience ordering products off of TV? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.