Topeka woman loses hundreds in free trial scam

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Those free product trials could end up costing you big bucks.


The Better Business Bureau issued a warning Wednesday about subscription-based products. But it’s coming too late for Judy Holliday who, last December, saw an online ad for anti-aging cream that caught her eye.

"Gee, if I could look that much better for $4.95 what have I got to lose,” Holliday said.

It advertised a free trial, plus $4.95 for shipping. She thought she'd have 30 days to try it out, so she put in her credit card information. She found out later they charged her an additional $89.95.

"It arrived quickly,” said Holliday. “I started feeling kind of itchy and it was turning red so I thought I better not use this anymore."

When she tried to cancel it, the company said it was past their 14 day policy and the billing won't stop.

"They said you didn't cancel,” she explained. “This is all your fault."

Denise Groene with the Better Business Bureau says these scammers hide costs and rules in the fine print.

"A lot of the information is hidden,” said Groene. “It may state that by accepting the offer you signed up for a monthly shipment of the product."

It's estimated people lost more than $13 billion dollars over the last 10 years in free trial scams, often using fake celebrity endorsements.

"A lot of these come through click bait or it looks like your friend likes one of the products so you want to see what your friend likes,” Gorene said.

Holliday was out more than $800 before her subscription finally stopped. She says it's a lesson that sometimes free trials are too good to be true.

Before you buy anything as a free trial, go to and check for complaints against the business. You can also report scams there.

With help from the BBB and the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, Holliday got about $600 back.