3 On Your Side

Valley senior citizen stuck in 'free trial offer'

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Joan Davidson, 74, ordered a "free product" she heard about over the radio, now she is being charged $200 every month. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Joan Davidson, 74, ordered a "free product" she heard about over the radio, now she is being charged $200 every month. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Dermatone did not answer any of the emails sent by Davidson or her daughter requesting the cancellation of these products. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dermatone did not answer any of the emails sent by Davidson or her daughter requesting the cancellation of these products. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Davidson says she tries a lot of different skin products. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Davidson says she tries a lot of different skin products. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Davidson is charged $94.65 twice a month for products she didn't want or order. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Davidson is charged $94.65 twice a month for products she didn't want or order. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Joan Davidson is 74 years old and says over the years, she's tried a lot of different skin products.

“I think that I look older,” Davidson said.

“And you wouldn't mind looking younger?” Gary Harper asked. 

"Yes," she replied.

So, it may not be surprising to learn that Davidson ordered a small bottle of skin toner after hearing a company called Dermatone advertising on the radio.

“A commercial came on about this fabulous cream that makes you look totally youthful," she said.

Davidson says what got her attention is that the product was part of a free offer. All she had to do was call the company and provide a debit or credit card number.

“If the product was free, why did you have to give your debit card information?" Harper asked her.

"For shipping,” Davidson replied.

“And, at the time, that probably made sense to you?" asked Harper

"Yes," Davidson said.

As expected, Davidson was charged around $5 on her bank card for shipping and the item arrived in the mail.

However, she didn't like the product, stopped using it and then, thought nothing more of it. But, the very next month, Dermatone withdrew $95 twice out of Davidson bank account for a total of $200 and mailed her more products that she says she didn't want or order.

“That's a lot of money and I don't have the money for that at all," Davidson said.

Davidson maintains not only did she call Dermatone numerous times to cancel any future orders, but so did her daughter, Patti Haugland. But month after month, the two say Dermatone would automatically withdraw two $95 payments totaling $200.

Over the course of five months, Haugland says Dermatone has taken $800 from her mother for products they can't seem to cancel.

“She receives $1,200 a month from Social Security and here is this company taking $200 of that,” Haugland said.

On Dermatone's website, they clearly indicate that by agreeing to their Terms and Conditions, consumers will pay around $95 every month for additional products and even offer a toll-free number to cancel “hassle free.” But remember, Davidson heard Dermatone advertised on the radio and says she was unaware of any website or consumer agreement.

So, 3 On Your Side got involved.

"I've seen some of the other work that you've been able to do for others in the Valley and I wanted to see if we could reach out and help my mom in this situation,” Haugland told Harper.

Dermatone never did reply to 3 On Your Side's numerous emails or phone calls. So, we got a hold of Davidson’s bank, Compass, and told them about her situation. Davidson and her daughter tell 3 On Your Side that Compass immediately stopped Dermatone from taking any future withdraws and the bank even indicated that it was attempting to get some, if not all, of Davidson’s $800 back.

This mother and daughter team say they really appreciate 3 On Your Side’s involvement and say they'll never try anything for "free" again.

"I would warn people not to try free trials because it's not free," said Haugland.

3 On Your Side really appreciates Compass Bank’s involvement and their effort to prevent any further withdraws. By the way, 3 On Your Side is still working on getting some, if not all, of Davidson’s $800 back. We’ll let you know what happens in a follow-up report.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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