- Competition Bureau Investigations
- Competition Law
- Fines & Settlements
- Marketing Practices and Telemarketing
A Canadian Competition Bureau investigation concluded that Revive You Media operated a subscription trap scam. It provided the false impression on its websites that consumers were ordering free trials without any further obligations when in fact consumers were unwittingly signing-up for monthly subscriptions in excess of $100. The company used claims such as “risk-free trial” and “just pay a small shipping fee” to mislead consumers. The real cost and nature of the offers were not disclosed on the company’s websites in a way that was clear and apparent for consumers.
Revive You Media (1806369 Alberta Limited) pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice for promoting deceptive free trial offers for health and dietary supplements. The company was fined $15 million and was also subjected to a ten-year court order prohibiting it from any direct or indirect involvement in promoting deceptive trial offers. Potential penalties for breaking the order include a fine or up to 5 years in prison.
Read the Competition Bureau’s press release here.
Free trials have “infested the internet and social media”: Better Business Bureau
A Better Business Bureau International Investigations Initiative produced a report entitled Subscription Traps and Deceptive Free Trials Scam Millions with Misleading Ads and Fake Celebrity Endorsements (download below). In the report, the BBB noted:
BBB receives complaints from free trial offer victims nearly every day and warns consumers to use extreme caution before agreeing to the offer and entering their credit card information. The chance of encountering this type of deception is high; they have infested the internet and social media. Solving this issue will require widespread education, law enforcement and work by credit card companies to recognize these types of fraudulent activities and deter access to the credit card system.