3OYS: Peoria woman says risk-free offer puts huge 'wrinkle' in her bank account

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The point of a trial offer is to give you a little sample of a product in hopes that you will get so hooked you will want to order more.  

But this is the story of one Valley woman who tried one of those risk-free offers.

Marilee Ellingson believes in taking care of her skin.

So, when she came across an anti-wrinkle cream on the Internet, it piqued her interest, particularly since it appeared to be endorsed by celebrities.

"I saw this ad on the side and it had Oprah and Ellen's face," Ellingson said. "It said, 'To erase 20 years worth of wrinkles.' "

And what a deal it was; the ad said it was a free trial offer. All Ellingson had to pay was a $4 shipping charge.

"It was only a $4 trial and I thought, 'I can afford $4.' I would give it a try," she said.

The product is called Eye Born, and its commercials are pretty convincing.

"Delay the visible signs of premature aging," the commercials say.

The product said there was a 14-day money-back guarantee. But that wasn't true because Ellingson says $89 was immediately put on her charge card.

And even though she sent the wrinkle cream back immediately, Eye Born kept putting more charges on Ellingson's debit card and mailing her products she never ordered.

"I've been charged $88.95 and $99.95, and it was weekly," she said.

Ellingson says she couldn't stop the products from arriving, and the charges kept racking up.

"It's about $600," she said.

So much for that risk-free trial period.

Despite numerous attempts to cancel, Ellingson couldn't get the shipments or charges to stop.

“Be wary of all those free offers," she warned. "Rarely is something free."

Myriam Cruz is with the Phoenix Better Business Bureau and says free trial offers are some of their biggest complaints. She says it all starts when consumers like Ellingson provide their debit or credit card, thinking it's only to pay for the initial shipping or trial offers.

"So the way the company gathers the financial information from consumers is the fact that they have to pay a shipping and handling fee or that really small fee to receive the free trial offer, and once they have that, they basically charge unauthorized charges to their account," Cruz said.

3 On Your Side discovered the company behind this ordeal is hard to pin down.

Our emails were bounced back to us as "not found or" "undeliverable," and our calls were never returned.

However, their operation, according to the Better Business Bureau, appears to be the same old ploy associated with most risk-free trial offers.
   
"It was scary. And weekly? Who could afford that? It's crazy. It's very sad," Ellingson said.

After 3 On Your Side got involved, the company ended up crediting her account for the nearly $600 they took.

If you're going to try one of those risk-free offers but you have to give your credit card for shipping and handling, think about what happened to Ellingson.