Free Trials Autoships Programs

What Are Autoship Programs?

What Are Autoship Programs and Why Should You Avoid Them?

Picture this: you’re shopping on the internet. You carefully read reviews and view scientific evidence for a new weight loss supplement. It promises to help you lose 15 pounds in under 2 months and it has clinical trials reinforcing these claims.

what-is-auto-ship

So far, everything about the product looks good.

But wait, it gets better! This company is so confident about the value of its weight loss supplement that it’s currently offering a free trial! You get a valuable weight loss supplement for only the cost of shipping and handling. How awesome is that?

Your product arrives in the mail a few days later. You try it for the 15 day trial period, only to find that it doesn’t give you the results you were expecting. It makes you feel nauseous and you’ve having trouble falling asleep at night.

Shipping and processing for the “free trial” was a little more expensive than you thought it would be: $19.95. But that’s still not a bad price to pay for a 15 day trial of a weight loss supplement.

The trial period ends, and you decide not to order a full package. After all, it didn’t work and it gave you negative side effects.

But then you look at your credit card bill, and you realize that the company has already ordered a three month’s supply of that supplement, charged you $200, and is currently shipping that supplement directly to your house.

That’s an autoship program, and it’s one of the worst scams on the internet today.

Not All Autoship Programs Are Bad

Just like Anakin Skywalker, autoship programs started with good intentions before going to the dark side.

Auto ship programs are great for genuine products. Let’s say you order a skin care product online, and it works really well. You run out of this skin care product every month, and the company kindly sends a shipment to your doorstep just before you run out. You don’t have to go to the store or miss a day of your skin care regimen.

Magazine subscriptions are like autoship programs: a new one is shipped to your door every month. You don’t have to lift a finger: it just arrives at your door.

Unfortunately, today, auto ship programs are more often associated with scams than legitimate products.

…But Many of Them Are Scams

Here are some of the marketing gimmicks and slogans companies will use to justify their autoship programs:

— “We’ll make sure you can continue enjoying the weight loss benefits of Supplement G after you run out!”

— “We’ll help your skin look 10 years younger by sending you monthly shipments of Supplement T at a reduced price!”

— “We make it convenient to reorder so you never have to stop feeling awesome again!”

Why Autoship Programs are Dangerous

Yes, some companies offer autoship programs that are legitimately helpful. You receive a steep discount on monthly orders of a certain product, and the company conveniently ships that product so you never run out.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of modern auto ship programs are designed to rack up as many charges on your credit card as possible before you realize what’s going on and decide to cancel.

Of course, realizing you’re being scammed is only half the battle: the next problem is actually cancelling your subscription. I’ve never seen an autoship program offer a simple online cancellation form.

Instead, these shady companies make you call a customer service hotline which is often difficult-to-reach and has extremely long wait times.

When you finally do get to talk to a customer service employee, you typically don’t get to cancel your subscription right away. Instead, you’re forced to sit through upsells: the customer service employee will try to sell you on other less-than-genuine products offered by the company.

Ultimately, that customer service employee may cancel your subscription if you ask nicely. But more likely, you’ll be transferred to another customer service employee with a wait time of 2 hours or more. When that wait time is over, you might be transferred again. Or, in rare circumstances, you might actually have your subscription cancelled.

Some of the worst autoship programs don’t even let you cancel. Instead, the only way to cancel is to dispute the charges with your credit card company or even cancel your credit card altogether.

How to Easily Avoid Autoship Programs Using Two Simple Tips

Autoship programs can literally ruin your life. They can destroy your credit rating and leave you with hundreds of dollars of charges you can’t afford to pay.

Here are two simple tips that will help you avoid autoship programs:

Tip #1: Don’t Sign Up for Free Trials

No Autoship

There’s an old rule on the internet: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. This is almost always the case with “free” trials. Free trials are rarely free. In fact, most things on the internet come with a price, even if they’re advertised as being free.

With free trials, the company may offer a 10 to 15 day introductory supply of a certain supplement. The company won’t charge you anything (except a $10 to $30 shipping and handling fee, of course). All you have to do is enter your credit card number into this convenient form, and you’re good to go.

Your trial begins from the day your order is placed. You might not receive your supplement for another week. By the time your supplement arrives, you might only have 5 days to decide whether or not you like it – or if it works at all.

Immediately after your 10 to 15 day free trial expires, your credit card may be charged with a 30-day supply of that supplement plus shipping and handling. All of a sudden, your free trial has left $100+ in charges on your credit card.

If you see a free trial, avoid it. Most good companies don’t give away free trials on the internet because they know they can sell plenty of it at the regular price.

Tip #2: Know Where to Look for Auto-ship Information

There are plenty of shady companies on the internet, but many of these companies still follow U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations.

Those regulations state that the company a) Must disclose in plain English that your account will be automatically renewed and the process by which this occurs, and b) Must disclose in plain English how to cancel the autoship program, obtain a refund, or dispute a charge.

Surprisingly enough, most online companies follow these regulations. Reputable companies will place this information directly on the front page, letting customers know that their credit cards will be billed every 30 days until they die.

Most companies, however, will bury this information on a certain page. Technically, they’re complying with FTC regulations, although they’re not being very honest about it.

With that in mind, here are two places where you’ll typically find autoship program information:

— Ordering Page: Some companies will place an autoship disclaimer on the ordering page. This is typically found right below the area where you enter your billing information, and it’s usually in very small font.

— Terms & Conditions Page: If you don’t find auto-ship information on the ordering page, then check the Terms & Conditions page, also known as the Terms of Service or Terms of Use page. These documents are long and filled with “legalese”. Instead of reading through everything, press Ctrl+F on your keyboard and search for words like “regular”, “charged”, “autoship”, or “installment.”

Autoship Anger

What To Do If You’re an Autoship Victim

Even the most internet-savvy shoppers can fall victim to autoship programs.

If you’ve fallen victim, then you have a few different options available to you:

Option 1): Contact the company’s customer service department to unsubscribe. Look for a hotline on the product’s website. As mentioned above, this doesn’t always work. Some companies might make unsubscribing as difficult as possible.

Prepare yourself for long wait times, lots of transfers, and poor English language skills. While doing this, log the date of the calls, the length of the calls, and the names of any customer service employees you’re speaking with. If you end up cancelling your subscription using this method, ask to be sent a confirmation email.

Option 2): Contact your credit card company to dispute the charges. Autoship companies fear the wrath of VISA more than they fear the wrath of you.

Contact your credit card company and explain your situation. If you’re lucky, your credit card may refund all money you’ve paid. If you’re unlucky, this won’t work and you’ll be forced to cancel your credit card altogether.

What to do after you’ve unsubscribed

No matter which method you choose, keep checking your credit card for fraudulent purchases. Some of the shadiest companies will sell your credit card information on the black market, while others will sign you up for another autoship program.

Finally, if you’ve fallen victim to an auto-ship program, one of the best things you can do is to share your story online. This helps prevent others from falling victim to the same scams.

It also hits the autoship company where it hurts – online reviews.

59 COMMENTS

  1. I want to complain about Skin Opulent products. I pop up ad came up on the screen and the website said $4.95 free trial, I had notice in January and on February 25th they continue to charge my credit card and max my credit card and I didn’t authorize than I contacted customer service charge and was told I was unable to return the product even though it has never been open. I had contacted my report it my credit card company and my account has been closed. They’re a scam. Do not buy any products from this company.

  2. Bobo
    I got caught by an autoship program from Kiara Skin Care. However, after contacting my credit card company, the State Attorney General’s office and the company whose name made the offer look legit, I obtained a full refund. Apparently the company doesn’t want the bad press.

  3. The product i bought on a “Trial” offer was Invigorite cream and Revive serum on the 03/12/16, the cream burnt my eyes and the serum did also, i have tried to find the company’s number to send back product and to stop them from taking anymore money from my account however the web page sends me to another product which the operator on the other end tells me they don”t sell and never have sold Invigorate. So on the 14th of January they withdrew $129.10 and $128.71 from my account and again on the 14 February another withdrawal of $129.10 and $128.78 Can someone please help if they know how to contact these thieves,as even though i don”t want anymore of their product they have never sent the next subscription yet have taken my money. Really need my $515.69 back.Any help will be very much appreciated

  4. I ordered Premium brand skin cream before looking into it. Going to close my checking account tomorrow and open a new one.

  5. Oilganic is a scam company. They charged my credit card today with NO AUTHORIZATION TO DO SO. Don’t give them your credit card information. This isn’t a legit company.

  6. This product sucks, they are very rude and I called in within the correct time frame and they would nt cancel without charging my credit card. Please if you are a victim contact your credit card company and report them. They have no idea what they are doing and they are very unprofessional. I wish I would have seen these before I ordered the product. It really is a terrible product.

  7. I am bad that I fell for this. TrimGenesis garcinia product. Have called their customer service number listed on their website, 3days in a row well within my trial period to cancel and opt out of auto shop. Each time the representative put me on hold 3+ times, could not find my account info and then promised that someone would call me back or email. Surprise surprise “crickets”….I will be sending a certified letter to their address listed on website and hopefully will have no further charges against me. Please advise if you have any other ideas of how to deal with unresponsiveness.. I will NEVER do a free trial again !!

  8. stem cell serum is a rip off. DO NOT PAY FOR THE FREE TRIAL!!!! They will start charging your credit card for lots of money! They charged mine for $400 after I had cancelled

  9. This produce SUCKS! Did absolutely nothing and as mentioned above they are a SHADY business. I ordered the trial for a little of nothing. Cancelled order, was told by Toni Thompson I would not be charged for anything and nothing further would be sent. AND THEN I was charged $93.99 on my credit card. Called again, very upset, so they said it was my fault and that’s what the “trial” cost. They ended up talking to financial department, yea right, and gave me a whopping 25% back. If they had a product that produced the results they advertised, I would have been happy paying for it. BOGUS product and SCAM artists!

  10. I thought I was getting a 30 day supply of Garcinia, Forskolin & they dooped me into buy Rasberry Ketones.I understood that I was paying for shipping only on the Garcinia & Forskolin and could cancel after if I was happy with the product. However, 15 days from order and 15 days later a charge of $79.95 and $69.97. First how can you tell if a product is working really within a week???? When customer service called me back they would only credit me back 30% of each (oh ya, had to talk to her supervisor first). I could not return and this whole thing was nothing but a scam. Buyer be ware
    NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM [email protected] at phone number 800-720-XPRO

  11. Garcinia slim diet is another scam…they trick you into a free trial by calling it a” free gift”. after seeing a charge on my checking account for 84 dollars , I guess I got scammed , when I contacted the company through the tiny printed phone number on the bottle….i was treated rudely by someone who I could barely understand. “all sales are final’ was all he kept saying. Now I,m out 84 bucks and they didn’t even send me what I supposedly paid for.
    Bunch of rip off con artist… I’m pissed

  12. Do NOT fall for the free trial Garcinia weight loss pills. It is a PURE Tilt RIP-OFF. First, they say they will ship you two bottles of weight loss pills for the price of shipping. Then you click to order, but unknown to you, they add a bottle of something else like Green Coffee to your order for $25. When you get the confirmationr (after you’ve paid), there’s the additional item. You try to cancel, but no one responds for several days. By the time you a hold of someone–OOPS, your order has already shipped. You really need this other supplement, it’s been shown to be…BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. NO, I don’t want it!!! Refund my money. Well, all we can do is refund half the purchase price… BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Okay, just cancel any automatic shipments, get me my refund, and I’ll go away, BUT your refund had better be done or I will contest the entire order through my credit card. IT’S A PURE TILT SCAM!!! Don’t give them your name, phone number, email address, or credit card. PURE SCAM!

  13. Do not buy aqua refine products, it is a rip off. I finally found the correct number on your site and not from the companies web site. They do not want to give a refund for products they keep sending me!!! This time I spoke to Jason.

  14. Well I got scared by Revitaline too. Harold the co. Rep said he’s supposed to charge $89. Then kept lowering price to $18.79 which my card case charged. I kept insisting I was not interested. That I got what I paid for what was charge for? He said product. Since when do you pay for product after you’ve received it? I called fraud dept. at my band for refund. Buyer beware of Revitaline website.

  15. Aqua Refine Serum–called three people (two different numbers), was “disconnected” once, one representative couldn’t find my name/zip code, and one never called me back. Unfortunately, I used my debit card, so I’m going to have to sic my bank on them. I also noticed they have several domain endings including .org and .net, yet they are most definitely a .com! I’m also trying to contact BBB to make a complaint.

  16. I am currently experiencing this myself! The company I am dealing with is New Life Skin! They evidently sneak this into the terms and conditions page under your credit card. (I assumed this was for my credit card ?)…my fault for having faith in people! I called to cancel, they were RUDE and hung up on me ?! I immediately called my credit card company and they were trying to send through ANOTHER $97.00 charge ?…these “company’s” need to be held accountable for their actions! So sad when you have to steal money from people because you can’t make it in the business world, or your product is not worthy of being sold! ? Sorry, rant over! ? This is another scam company:

    Phone Support: US/CA 1-888-859-0516
    E-mail Support: [email protected]

    New Life Skin
    PO Box 41542
    St. Petersburg, FL 33743

  17. Aqua Refine trial along with Revine trial were ordered together and arrived in the same box. I used both products and developed a rash. I then called their customer service number 877-338-2634 where someone answered pretty quickly. As soon as I told her my issue, she said to continue using it, just use less. I said no, my face hurts and i don’t want to use it again. She then said nothing and transferred me to a long wait queue. I stayed on hold for 36 minutes and got to someone named Lourdes. She tried to have me continue to use the cream and extend my trial. I said no, i am not comfortable using it. I am throwing it away. Finally she cancelled my order and gave me a confirmation number. I confirmed with her that she was cancelling both the eye and face creams. She said no she just knows about the face cream. I need to call another number to cancel the eye cream and she gave me 877-371-3925. Same story, I called the second number and spoke to Tyler. He tried to get me to continue using the product before finally cancelling my order. It’s only been a few days since I received the order and according to them I cancelled in time for them not to send me more. We’ll see how it goes now.

    • I’m caught up in a scam with the same 2 products. My issue is the ad said a free trial just pay shipping of $6.95. Got the product and then 15 days later they charged my card $97.43 & $98.66. When I called to find out why, they told me that there was only a 15 day period to send product back – UNUSED to get my money back. None of that was stated in the ad. Since I had opened it and tried it once, they refused to take it back and therefore wouldn’t give my money back. So I called my bank to cancel my card, in case of future charges and filed a dispute. I’m still dealing with it all. Card Services says that I must return the product in order to not be charged for it. I cannot find an address for either company. When I first received the products, against my normal practices, I threw away all packaging. In my defence, I wasn’t expecting problems later…. or a brain fart, whichever works best. I can’t ever get any cooperation when I call their customer service. I have a feeling that in the end I will lose $200 and have no product. :(

  18. Aqua refine serum – Sold by a fraudulent company and doing auto shipping scams. I am a victim and nowhere on their website they have mentioned about returns within 14 days and the actual cost of the products..BEWARE!!!

  19. dont buy trial of “DERMAFI”, thank god i used a pre paid card, no money left on it to charge, and HEY EVERYBODY OUT THERE, THERE IS A WAY TO GET BACK AT SOME OF THESE COMPANIES, I DID A MIGRAINE RESEARCH THRU MERIDIAN, I GOT THE PRE PAID CARD FROM THEM, A MASTERCARD, AND I USED IT 3 TIMES FOR DIFFERENT TRIALS, NOW MOST COMPANIES KNOW THESE R PRE PAID, IT COMES BACK SAYING THEY DO NOT ACCEPT THESE CARDS, BUT, AND I KNOW BECAUSE I DID IT 3 TIMES, THE OTHER COMPANIES ACCEPTED IT, now, im not tellin anyone to try n rip off all companies, but if u want to try a product n dont want to worry about it affecting your debit or credit card, then MORE POWER TO YOU!

    • Please cancel my skinny Garcia and skinny green coffee, immediately. I can not pay for it ,mislead. I’m sending back your product stat. Thank you, kindly

  20. I do not want the product alucia ( anti wrinkle complex ) I can’t find anything on the Internet to email or a phone number. I just got out of the hospital and I can’t use anything until I am released from Doctor. Please let me know what to do so I want be charged next month.
    Thank you and will be checking my email.

  21. I have been suckered into automatic shipments for a product called Intelligex and Amped from FocusNutra. I cannot find any contact info to cancel this with them…

    • Call your bank & ask for the phone number (and address/email address in case the bank has it) of the company which charged you. Then call the company and ask nicely for the name of the agent & the e-mail address, write it down & also the date & time of the conversation. Now tell the agent that you want to cancel & request confirmation by email. Then call your bank & explain the situation, bcs even if the company does not send the confirmation or does not accept you cancellation, the bank should accept that you called the company & stop paying or even retrieve your many from the company, or may be you can return in-open product.
      Go to the webpage you ordered from & read the “Term & Conditions”, usually on the bottom of the webpage.

  22. I ordered 30 day trial of Hoku skin care products backed by Ellen Degeneres. Boy was I disappointed….after I placed order terms and conditions popped up saying I would charged for trial plus S&H and at end up 30 days, my account would be $90+ !!!! I immediately went on and emailed them to cancel and I got a cancellation email back within an hour stating NOTHING would be shipped OR charged to my account. WRONG…I received an email 3 days later saying product has been shipped!!!! After going back and forth with customer service, I now have to refuse a product I don’t want and they say there is NO WAY they can take off S&H my account!!!! What a farce, DON’T ORDER unless you like throwing $$$$ away.They sure don’t stand behind their emails!!!! Their motto must be “company is always right!!”

  23. I ordered Tropical Garcinia and Tropical Cleanse on a free trial sample priced at 4.99 per bottle a one time fee and after shipping and handling came out to 11.99 I got them in the mail 3 days later. I ordered them on 6/13/16 and today I was charged 88.73 and 87.93 I was shocked and didn’t realize I had been duped. I called the 888 phone number and the call center told me that because I didn’t cancel within the 14 days that I would be billed and placed on auto ship. I explained I didn’t see the the anywhere on the page that I would be billed again and put on auto ship. The lady told me those charges were for the bottles that I received and that I now qualify for a one month fee supply and if I wanted to call back and cancelet next month. I told her I want to cancel everything I don’t want any of their products especially auto pay.

  24. My complaint is about radyance skin brightening complex.that is not original product .it delivered by fraud company .they cheat customers offered free trial or discounted trail offering 1692 rupees.but its not original product.bcoz on bottle there was not any brand mark.II want to do take action against them but I don’tknow how can i do it.pls help me.

  25. I wish to report on BLISSRADIANCE. I hv ordered the $4.95 trial. and I am billed USD23.90 n USD78.71 simultaneously which I do not know about. I have yet to see their products too. it is utter disgust . I have emailed them n request a refund and yet to receive a response from there. On my end, I contacted my credit card company and file a dispute against them for goods not received that’s all I can do.

  26. I had a free trial and now I got billed 64.99 and that is ridiculous considering I did not set up a continuation fee and subscribe to you guys.

  27. I had same problem with problem Alpha fish nutrition and Alpha energy max..ordered there samples and a week after I received product I was charged two separate charges on my account for 89.00. Called to cancel and got the run around. I did get reimbursed 30%, but still was unaware that they would start a membership and reccuring charges just from ordering samples.

  28. I received 5 bottles from bellavie phythoceramides. I remember putting up my name for the trial pack. I have not checked if they charge me anything as i do not remember putting up my credit card no for payment, etc.

    i hope it is not a scam to ask me pay for the pack later as it was supposed to be a trial pack?

  29. Somehow I have placed on auto ship! $204.00 per month. I got trapped in this at a very emotional time.We live in KCMO and my mom had to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN for 5 surgeries. She is doing great. But I had my first shipment sent to my hotel. What a mistake! I’m home noe and they just sent my second. Shipment to Rochester MN to the hotel! I don’t even want the second ship ment!!!!! I don’t have time. My main focus is on my mom! She has a long road to recover. I called the hotel told them to mark Return to sender. If anyone can help me out I’d appreciate it sooooo much! My cell 816-510-3802

  30. yep, it happened to me with Auralux and no one even told me it was going to happen. otherwise I would never have signed up for the stupid thing. I am furious! It even came through Amazon, which surprises me. I cannot find a phone number anywhere to call. If someone can help, I would appreciate it. I guess I’ll have to call my bank and dispute the charges…

    • Carrie,

      Thank you for leaving a comment. Here is the information I found online for Auralux. Hopefully it will help you get your money back.

      You should contact the manufacturer to see about canceling and stopping payment.

      I found their phone number online:

      Auralux Beauty | 3268 Governor Dr #214, San Diego, CA 92122 | 888-947-3564

      — Supplement Police

  31. I received another bottle of Aurulux and I had called and told them I wanted to cancel because the trial date was up. I paid an extra 15.95 to keep the 1 bottle I had receved at first. I don`t know if I was charged the full amount, but I am looking into it as soon as I`m done submitting this. Hopefully if they did charge me they will quickly refund me the money they charged me and I will return this bottle today!!!!! Thank you and have a great day!!!!!

  32. I want to complain about Vitafirm, which was on the Freebies network. I got 2 charges for $99.95 and $97.79. I did not authorize these charges. Only $4.98 for postage. Beware, they are a scam!! I will notify my credit card co. I talked to customer service, and could not understand the foreign dialect. Please do not have anything to do with Vitafirm skin cream!!!

    • Pamela,

      Thank you for leaving a comment. Comments like these help our readers learn what they may be getting into with a specific company or product.

      Please head over to our review page and leave a comment there as well so that onlookers can see what you are going through.

      — Supplement Police

  33. You’re a scam artist and cancel any future orders for this rip off order. I’ll be contacting Attorney General Office. You need to credit $87.90 back into my account. The number you listed on my bank account is 888-60-5968001102

    • Yevettes F Lewis,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. Please note that we do not actually sell any products on this website. We are simply reviewing products. Please take a look at our Review Guidelines or Who We Are.

      What product in particular are you referring to? Can you leave a comment on that review so that our other readers can see what you are going through.

      Thanks,

      — Supplement Police

      • My product is Junisse facial product. I didnt spot their cancellation policy immediately. I did call them however within 14 days of actually getting the product. They billed me saying it was too late. When I asked for a manager or supervisor, ‘Chad’, my service guy wouldn’t oblige. My fault I guess, but these companies really don’t play fair

        • Derek,

          You are correct. It is a shady way to do business. Unfortunately there are a FEW good companies out there that will fully honor their trial, but there are so many more that give customers the run around and have put a negative connotation on the “free trial” offers. Which can actually be a great way for businesses to get their product in the hands of customers. Especially when starting out. But now, most people simply do not trust the system.

          — Supplement Police

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