These people email us thinking that we are the ones who stole their money because there's no way to contact the con artists
El Cerrito, CA (PRWEB) January 19, 2009
Con artists who have been flooding the Internet with "free trial offers" of acai berry products have deterred online shoppers from looking for reputable companies dealing in acai berry products, said Bryan Nettles, who oversees business-related issues for Pure Acai Products.
"Hundreds of thousands of people have been ripped off by companies who claim to offer free trials, tarnishing the good name of what is still a wonderful health food. As a general rule, people should stay away from any company offering free trials. We see these scammers putting up dozens of new websites every day offering the free trials. Of the hundreds we have looked at, we have yet to find a single one that is a legitimate business," said Nettles.
Pure Acai Products, which markets acai supplements in the U.S., receives dozens of emails daily from people who have been scammed by other companies. "These people email us thinking that we are the ones who stole their money because there's no way to contact the con artists," added Nettles.
One disgruntled shopper wrote, "I recently purchased your free trial product. I noticed that since I did, I have been charged two or three times for the same thing. I have an $88 charge and I'm not sure what the other one was, but I just got another one! This one is for $83! Please get back to me regarding this because this is almost $300 now for something I didn't purchase."
The acai berry, a native of the Brazilian rainforest, has been labeled as the world's newest superfood due to the high level of antioxidants and fatty acids it contains. Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Rachel Ray have featured discussions about acai berries on their shows, creating a surge in demand for the fruit, with many people turning to the Internet to order acai berry products. However, free-trial acai scams have flooded the Web and consumers have lost money.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning about acai free trial offer scams on January 6. Online fraudsters tempt Web surfers with offers of free trials, but when people try to cancel their orders, they find themselves signed up for more acai products than they bargained for.
BBB spokesman Steve Cox said, "Many businesses across the country are using the same selling model for their acai products: they lure customers in with celebrity endorsements and free trial offers, and then lock them in by making it extremely difficult to cancel the automatic delivery of more acai products every month."
Among the companies employing this tactic is FX Supplements, which offers a "risk-free" trial of its acai products, with the buyer told he or she only has to pay for shipping and handling.
If consumers do not cancel subscriptions within the trial period, they find themselves with monthly deliveries of bottles and credit card bills of $85.90 each time. The trial period typically lasts only 10 to 14 days from the date the order is placed.
Central Coast Nutraceuticals, which has been given an F grade by the BBB, has chalked up more than 1,400 complaints with the BBB serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona.
Touting the weight-loss benefits of acai, the company again lures buyers in with a free trial of products, ranging from supplements to tea. Customers who don't cancel their free trial within an allotted time are then billed $40 a month.
Central Coast Nutraceuticals and FX Supplements make it difficult for buyers to contact them to cancel subscriptions. Customers who phone the companies are put on hold for anything up to 75 minutes. Furthermore, there have been complaints of unauthorized charges made to credit cards for products not ordered.
A large number of acai websites are online offering free trials and capitalizing on the health benefits of acai berries, which include weight loss, anti-aging, increased energy levels, higher libido and general health improvements.
Sales of acai products worldwide were close to $15 million last year, compared to $500,000 in previous years. In November last year, Google recorded more than 1.5 million acai-related searches.
Nettles added, "Sales of acai berry products are still growing. People haven't been dissuaded from the actual products, but now they understand they have to be a bit more careful where they order from."
Before making the decision to buy acai products, buyers should steer clear of any offer that sounds too good to be true. Free trial offers of acai products often turn out to be very expensive.
Acai products are sold in health-food stores and many regular grocery chains. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that drinks giants Coco-Cola and Pepsi are planning to launch a range of sodas containing acai.
Acai products come in various forms -- juices, powders, capsules, jams and so on -- and their popularity is showing no signs of slowing, despite the presence of fraudsters.
For more information visit http://acaiberrysite.com.