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Last May, my wife contacted a company that answers questions for money, justanswer.com.
You sign up for a 7 day trial for $5............then, if you don't cancel it, there's a $53/month charge that they bill to your credit card. They are supposed to remind/contact you before that happens.
She had one question on that day, which apparently was answered at their site but was never sent to her email address as she was expecting, so she never got the answer and was never contacted by email to remind her to cancel the monthly service that she did not know that she was subscribing to when she put in her credit card information.
It does say on the page asking for her credit card info, that her subscription will turn into a permanent one(not sure why hers was $53 because most of them are much less) if it isn't canceled.
Turns out, that we stopped using that checking account actively last Summer after opening a new one but left several thousand dollars in it. During that time, up until this month, justanswer.com has been taking $53.00/month out of the account.
My wife has never used the membership even once during those 8 months as their records show and she never even knew she had the membership.
I did some checking and this exact scenario has played out numerous times with other unsuspecting people............
at least 606 complaints to the Better Business Bureau..........as of January 13, 2020.
606 total complaints in the last 3 years
of those, 459 complaints were closed in last 12 months
So this obviously is no exception and an ethical company would be able to see what I just explained as plain as the nose on their face and be understanding..........unless they intended for this to happen.
If it was NOT intentional, then clearly, the circumstances prove she never intended to have this membership and she would receive a refund.
I contacted the company on Saturday and they offered to cancel the membership. Then today, I insisted that they reverse the charges for the unintentional, unused membership. They responded that they will not do this.
So now, unless they change their position, I will be forced to go thru some legal channels and file complaints with the BBB, Attorney General in their state, our bank and consumer fraud agencies as well as post an alert on social media and do a press release for the professional media sources that might be interested in coverage. Others should be careful in dealing with this company based on the circumstances but ONLY IF the current company response continues on this path. My wife may have gotten burned on this but we can help hundreds of other consumers from being victimized in a similar fashion.
As a scientist, you know that I will just provide authentic facts as evidence of any statements.
One of my objectives here is to expose fraud and if justanswer.com intends to rip my wife off of $424 for a service that they know she never used and had no intention of ever using because she was "tricked" by the dynamics of how they trap people into having full memberships assigned to those consumers who only intended on using the 7 day trial........then this clearly is fraud.
If they see the picture thru the eyes of the consumer in this case, my wife and refund her money, then it's not intentional fraud and I will commend them for it. I am actually hopeful that this result can be achieved.
I will report progress or lack of it and results in this thread and welcome comments.
We should note that justanswer.com is not alone in using this tactic to get people into unintentional memberships by enticing them with free or cheap trial periods for a 1 time or brief period of service that turns into unwanted, overpriced and unused memberships.........with charges that go on indefinitely.
That does not make it right and we'll have a chance to find out what kind of company, justanswer.com really is here.
this is very common in the internet sales business. Every time i watch an infomercial I suspect that this kind of game is part of their presentation.
Example... wonderful new skincare product... sounds great... the company has so much faith in their product that they offer you a 1-month supply for free... so you call them and give them your address... the guy on the other end of the line asks you for a credit card... why a credit card?... they need the card because they will charge you 6.95 for shipping, nothing else... 4-weeks later, a package arrives with a 3-months supply and a hefty charge shows up on your credit card... sorry, now you are a "member" of our skin care club
If you catch it early, most will cancel your "membership"... but if you complain later, they may have certain rules that address the return of unwanted products.
Somewhere in this whole process, there was a "fine print' that explained it all, but you may have overlooked it.
Good points Gunter.
I see from reading thru the many complaints with the BBB, almost all of them just like this one, that they frequently do refund the customers money.
With that being the case, I am hopeful that I will be able to report that here. We will find out if that's legit or not with this incident.
I am guessing that, despite the complaints, that this company does provide a useful service to people...........helpful answers/advice for those without the skills to figure it out for themselves. I have read some responses that tell us that.
One of the strangest elements to the complaints is that there were so many different monthly rates/fees for the exact same service.
$28, $34, $45, $46, $53, and $57 were some of the monthly fees that people stated and were charged. She was billed $53/month.
Maybe there are different tiers and levels. I would be interested to know more.
So with more checking, it appears that this company is actually legit. In fact, they ask for people to apply to work for them.........answering questions that relate to their area of expertise.
This may sound strange but I am going to apply. I have elite expertise in atmospheric science(meteorology/climate) and commodity trading and you only have to read my posts here to appreciate how much I enjoy sharing it.
Isn't that ironic.............that I would be applying to do work for the company that I feel just ripped my wife off.
I just have a feeling that they will do the right thing. I'll tell you this though, if I did answer people's questions for them, I would want to be able to remind those people that they signed up for a monthly membership.
"I am guessing that, despite the complaints, that this company does provide a useful service to people........"
I wonder, what their answer would be, if you asked them a political question
Good question Gunter.
One would think that they should be sort of like Snopes in that regard(even though Snopes is biased towards the left at times).
Just the facts.
I did apply but none of their expertise catagories included atmospheric science or commodity trading or chess...........my best fields.
So I just chose "general".
Initially, this company refused to refund my wife's money even after several nice requests.
Each time a different person responded. The 2nd from the last response told us....no refund but offered us 15 days of their service for free instead of refunding 8 months of charges for their service that we never used and would never want.
Some companies might have continued to refuse to refund our money longer than this, especially the most unethical ones.
I researched this one and sensed a potential code of ethics and it does appear as if they sincerely want to help people to get answers to tough questions from their team of experts.
There were 600 complaints about them on the BBB site which is bad but almost all of them were similar to ours ......and the good thing is that the vast majority were resolved with total refunds.
Which is what happened with ours after I threatened to file complaints and asked to be put in contact with a person authorized to give us a refund.
I'm guessing the first few people were not and their job was/is to try to justify the charges and try to make us go away.
I'll copy my last complaint email that got the action when back to the computer.
On issues like this, one should NEVER give up until they do the right thing.
They claim that an email was sent to my wife reminding her to cancel and I believe them.
She must have ignored it or it went to junk mail
Maybe it is just me but my policy is this
I never give my credit card info over the internet/phone unless I know who I am dealing with and want to be able to do something I know will benefit me
Example is paying any utilities and places we do farm business with and pay within a set time to avoid service charges
I repeat, these are all known places of business
If I was asked for credit card info on a free trial I would ask why
Nobody needs my info unless I am a customer, doing biz on a regular basis. A free trial does not mean I am a customer. If I cannot do the free trial with out my credit card info then that is the end for me
Almost everybody who wants credit card info, up front are usually not ethical. Asking for credit card info from a stranger on the internet is almost like a stranger on the street, asking for your credit card info
Would you give this info to a stranger on the street, even though they have something of value for a free trial
For some reason people are more comfortable giving away info, to a stranger, on the internet, than a meeting in public.
Beats me why people are so willing to give away credit card info to a stranger, on the internet.
You are absolutely right. Never, ever give your credit card info out to anybody unless you know exactly what it’s for and you have good reason to trust them.
My wife made a big blunder and fortunately we got the money back but this company was actually doing what it said it would do..........even though a lot of people end up with memberships they didn’t t want.