Have you made purchases online and later found unauthorized monthly charges? There are a large number of complaints about credit card charges after online purchases from these companies:
Red Envelope complaints
Cherry-Moon Farms complaints
Secret Spoon complaints
Shari’s Berries complaints
NOTICE: If you live in Massachusetts and want to talk to an attorney about your legal rights after receiving unfair monthly credit card charges from an online merchant, call Preston Leonard, Esq. at (617) 329-1295.
“DEFENDANTS ADVERTISE A ‘FREE* DISCOUNT AND THEN SLIP IN A MONTHLY CHARGE FOR A MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM THAT WAS NOT AUTHORIZED
- The scam is simple: Plaintiffs and class members were shopping at one of the many websites owned and operated by Provide-Commerce, As they were completing their online purchases. Defendants provided them with an advertisement offering them “Free Shipping” on this and 12 future transactions. By merely clicking on that ad – they did not even have to accept the offer – Plaintiffs and the Class unwittingly agreed to join a membership program operated by CMG that costs around $9.00 to $15.00 per month.
- This is no mistake or coincidence and has happened to thousands of people across he country. CMG and Provide-Commerce have entered into an agreement whereby CMG is given the capability to manipulate Provide-Commerce’s website for the purpose of soliciting Provide-Commerce’s customers. This requires technological as well as logistical coordination of their efforts, CMG and Provide-Commerce split the spoils – CMG pays Provide-Commerce bounties on each “acquisition” – as well as certain commissions. Both have made millions in the process.
- Plaintiffs are victims of this scam, as are thousands of Class members. They never agreed to the subscription. How could they? They ‘were told that this was a ‘Free Shipping” offer as an inducement to shopping with Provide-Commerce, But it was not free at all The reality is that the true terms of the “free” shipping offer were purposefully obscured on the operative pages- There was no indication whatsoever at any time during the transaction that repeat billing was part of the deal. Plaintiffs and the Class reasonably interpreted Defendant’s offer to be a reward for shopping this time around plus an inducement to come back and shop again later. That is how coupons work.
- The key to the scam is that Plaintiffs and the Class were not even required to enter their credit card or debit card numbers,, or billing information to enroll in CMG’s membership club. Rather, Provide-Commerce provides this information directly to CMG under the guise that Plaintiffs and the Class authorized this to happen. Defendants directed Plaintiffs and the Class to enter innocuous information such as an email address and zip code to create a pretext to charge their debit and credit cards based on the silly claim that Plaintiffs and the Class could lawfully “authorize Provide-Commerce to pass their billing information to CMG, and “authorize” CMG to begin billing their cards based solely on the provision of an email address or zip code. reality, Defendants know that consumers will not take the time to carefully read through the misleading WebPages and disclosures that Defendants intentionally designed to mislead them if all consumers have to do is enter their email addresses. Why would they? An email address is relatively harmless means of contact that is generally freely exchanged and provided, It certainly is not a signature, mark of acceptance, or in any way related to credit card billing or payment information.
- Defendants’ scam is akin to a person walking into a retail store and being offered a coupon to use in the store in exchange for providing his or her email address on a form. And then having his or her credit or debit card information subsequently forwarded by the store to the person standing outside with the form, who Incidentally was wearing the store uniform, and charged repeatedly by that person, based on the fact that somewhere on the form (and perhaps even on the back or the second page) there was a disclosure that the customer was “authorizing? this to happen. Nobody would contend that this is an acceptable business practice. Rather, the person making the unauthorized charges and the store employee sharing the billing information would be in jail! Defendants are doing the exact same thing, and likewise claiming that their unsuspecting victims are to blame because they should have read all the disclosures before providing their email addresses to “enroll” in the rewards program. But just as the shopper walking into a store has no reason (and likely no time) to read a solicitor’s forms before providing his or her email address, Plaintiffs and the thousands of putative class members had no reason and most importantly, no obligation to read Defendants form “enrollment” page before providing their email addresses. Consumers simply have no reason to believe that they could “authorize” someone to charge their credit or debit cards merely by giving out their email address. And, in fact, they cannot.
- Defendant Provide-Commerce is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business located at 4840 Eastgate Mall, San Diego, California 9212 L Provide-Commerce is an e-commerce company that operates at least five online stores: RedEnvelope, ProFlowers, Cherry Moon Farms, Secret Spoon, and Shari’s Berries. At all times relevant to this dispute, Provide-Commerce’s principal place of business was California, it actively solicited and engaged in business and commerce in this jurisdiction, all significant decision-making with respect to the conduct alleged herein occurred in California, and it committed torts in this jurisdiction the Impacts of which were felt in this jurisdiction, directly and through its aiding and abetting of and conspiracy with, CMG in committing the acts complained of herein, Provide-Commerce’s terms and conditions of use published on its website contain a choice of law clause selecting California law for any legal action “regardless of conflict of law principles.”
- Defendant CMG is a Connecticut corporation with its principal place of business at 449 Silas Deane Hwy Wethersfield, Connecticut 06109. At all times relevant to this dispute, CMG actively solicited and engaged in business and commerce in this jurisdiction, and committed torts in this jurisdiction the impacts of which were felt in this jurisdiction. CMG engaged in commerce and committed torts in this jurisdiction directly and through its aiding and abetting of, and conspiracy with, Provide-Commerce in committing the acts complained of herein. CMG’s membership agreements contain a provision indicating that Connecticut law governs membership disputes and that nothing in the agreements will deprive anyone of the benefits of their own state’s consumer protection laws.
- Plaintiffs and the Class are ignorant about the true names of defendants sued as DOES 1 through 50 inclusive, and their wrongful conduct and therefore sue these defendants by fictitious names. Plaintiffs and the Class will seek court leave to amend this complaint to allege their true names and capacities when ascertained. Plaintiffs and the Class allege on information and belief that at all relevant times, DOES 1-50, inclusive, were agents, servants, employees, representatives, partners, and related or affiliated entities of defendants, and in doing the things hereinafter mentioned, were acting in the course and scope of their agency, employment, or retention with defendants permission, consent authority and ratification.
- Plaintiff purchased flowers from Provide-Commerce’s website, ProFlowers.com, using his debit card. After inputting his payment information, and just before he clicked on the transaction button, Provide-Commerce’s website generated an ad for free shipping for this and 12 future transactions, Plaintiff clicked to receive free shipping on his purchase and to complete his purchase transaction. He was never requested to input any new information, not even his payment information. Plaintiff never believed lie had joined any type of membership program, including FreeShipping.com Insiders-Club and never intended to do so.
- Plaintiff discovered unauthorized charges of $8.97 each month to his debit card by CMG, After closely examining his previous debit card statements, he discovered that CMG had been charging his debit card for numerous months. When Plaintiff debit card is charged, the money is immediately and directly withdrawn from his bank account He was surprised to see the charges since he never intended to join any membership program or authorized Provide-Commerce to share access to his information with CMG.
- Plaintiff likewise purchased merchandise from Provide-Commerce’s website RedEnvelope.com, using his credit card. After inputting his payment information, and ust before he clicked on the transaction button Provide-Commerce’s website generated an ad for free shipping for this and 12 future transactions. Plaintiff clicked to receive free shipping on his purchase and to complete his purchase transaction. He was never requested to input any new information, not even his payment information, Plaintiff never believed he had joined any type of membership program, including FreeShipping.com Insiders- Club and never intended to do so.
- Recently Plaintiff discovered unauthorized charges of $14.95 to his credit card by CMG. After closely examining his previous credit card statements he discovered that CMG had been charging his credit card for several months, He was surprised to discover the charges since he never intended to join any membership program or authorized Provide- Commerce to share access to his information with to CMG.
- Plaintiffs and the Class never intended to enroll in the FreeShipping.com Insiders-Club program or in any other program for that matter. Defendants’ scheme was intentionally designed to “enroll” consumers into the Insiders-Club without their knowledge. Plaintiffs and the Class were deceptively tricked into providing certain innocuous information or clicking on certain links so Pro vide-Commerce could claim that it had authorization to transmit to CMG (or allow CMG to intercept) their debit and credit card information, and so CMG could claim that it had authorization to bill Plaintiffs and the Class’ debit and credit cards. All the while Provide-Commerce and CMG had actual knowledge that Plaintiffs and the Class did not intend to enroll in any paid membership club. And Defendants further knew, or reasonably should have known, that Plaintiffs and the Class could not lawfully authorize the transfer of their billing information, or charges to their debit and credit cards, merely by providing their email addresses and/or zip codes.
- Defendants Deceptive Sales Practices CMG and Provide-Commerce created a nefarious scheme to trick visitors to Provde-Commerce’s websites into enrolling in CMG’s monthly programs, Provide-Commerce received commissions, “kickbacks” and ‘”bounties” to reward Its participation.
- Just like every other Class member, Plaintiffs were making a purchase on a Provide-Commerce website (Proflowers.com and RedEnvelope,com). Just as they had provided their debit and credit card information to Provide-Commerce, an advertisement appeared on Plaintiffs computer screen offering free shipping on the purchase and on future purchases. When Plaintiffs clicked on a link to redeem the Free Shipping offer, they were redirected to an ad-page that directed them to enter their email address and zip code to redeem the offer. For instance, Plaintiff was directed to an ad-page that stated: Exclusive OFFER ProFIowers® Get Free Shipping on THIS order! PLUS, Free Shipping Rebates On 12 Future Proflowers® Orders! One-Time Offer. Please Confirm Your Email And Zip Code As Your Electronic Signature To Activate Your Benefits.
- There was no obvious indication that the electronic signature was for “benefits” other than “Free Shipping on THIS order! PLUS, Free Shipping Rebates On 12 Future Proflowers Orders” or RedEnvelope Orders, And there was no reason to believe that Plaintiffs were in any danger whatsoever of accidentally signing up for some paid membership. Consumers justifiably rely on the correct assumption that they cannot lawfully authorize someone to begin charging their debit or credit cards merely by providing their email address or zip code, An email address and zip code is not a signature, mark of consent, or In any way associated with credit or debit billing information. It certainly is not a generally known or accepted method to enter into or authorize a payment obligation. An email address is a means of contact that is generally freely provided given its relatively harmless nature. Because an email address and zip code cannot constitute lawful authorization for credit and debit card charges, consumers have no obligation to carefully review Defendants1 advertisements – which areotherwise intentionally designed to deceive them – before providing this seemingly innocuous information.
- Plaintiffs were never told that they were no longer on the Proflowers,com and RedEnvelope.com website anymore – or had unknowingly been directed to a CMG interface! They also were never directed to the truth about what was going to happen to their debit and credit card information – that by accepting the free shipping offer, they were unknowingly “authorizing” CMG to begin billing a monthly fee to the debit and credit cards they had provided to Provide-Commerce.
- The hidden “small print’* that Defendants claim to justify their nefarious activities, states, for example: Start your NO COST 30-day review period with our compliments and claim, the introductory cash-back rebate on your shipping charges, up to $15,00, If you decide not to continue your FreeShipping.com Insiders-Club membership, simply log on to cancel during your review period. Otherwise, we’ll automatically extend Insiders-Club benefits for just $9.97 per month, billed by FreeShipping.com to the credit card you entered during your ProFlowers purchase Please note, by signing up and clicking the “Submit” button, your original Enrollment Details will be stored on our servers, as will the following information which will be PGP encrypted and transmitted securely through SSL encryption from your most recent ProFlowers order to FreeShipping.com to secure your membership: credit card information; name; billing address: and order ID number. Your credit card will not be charged during your NO COST 30-DAY REVIEW PERIOD. This so-called disclosure is intentionally hidden from the consumer. But perhaps most importantly, the disclosure assumes that Plaintiffs could lawfully authorize CMG to begin billing their debit or credit card merely by entering their email and zip code somewhere else, and without ever even providing their debit or credit card number., or billing information to CMG. This is preposterous. Especially considering that Defendants know Plaintiffs and the Class did not want to join CMG’s Savings Club or had no idea they were authorizing CMG to begin hilling them, and considering that Defendants intentionally designed the enrollment process to enroll Plaintiffs and the Class without this basic knowledge and understanding. Defendants should not now be allowed to complain that Plaintiffs and the Class should have done more to investigate the consequences of providing their email addresses and zip codes.
- Once enrolled, Plaintiffs and the Class are billed monthly until they notice the charges and cancel their memberships. Plaintiffs and the Class received no notice that they had enrolled, and were not provided with a copy of their purported “authorization” for Provide-Commerce to pass their billing information to CMG, and for CMG to begin billing them. The relatively small monthly charges are often hard to detect and show up from an unfamiliar vendor. This often allows Defendants scam to go undetected for numerous months – even years,
- CMG paid Provlde-Commerce commissions and bounties for each “subscriber” that is ensnarled by this deceptive business practice- This “business” model has been extremely lucrative for both Provide-Commerce and CMG. Based on information and belief, Provide-Commerce receives millions upon millions of dollars each year in payments from CMG3 and CMG generates tens of millions in revenue from unsuspecting consumers.
- CMG intentionally designed its web strategy to infiltrate the interaction between Provide-Commerce and its customers, to exploit the latter’s ingrained habits and widely shared assumptions about the usual steps involved in online shopping transactions.Defendants made every effort to ensure ‘that the Plaintiffs and the Class were never alerted to the fact that they might be entering into a second transaction. Defendants made sure that Plaintiffs and the Class were at most entering one or two pieces of benign information under the mistaken assumption that they were cashing in on a “point of purchase” coupon that also invited them to shop later on and get the same discount of future shipping, Defendants Intentionally and knowingly avoided requiring consumers to re-enter their credit or debit card information as a condition of enrollment, which in turn ensured that Plaintiffs and the Class would never be alerted to the fact that they were actually going to have to pay for this “free” service…”