Shop online? You may have been ripped off – OC Watchdog : The Orange County Register


Shop online? You may have been ripped off

November 18th, 2009, 12:06 pm · posted by Teri Sforza, Register staff writer

So you’re booking your flight, or ordering your movie tickets, or paying for your pizza online. It’s a mainstream web site. No worries.

You type in your credit card information, click the “purchase” button, and enjoy your flight/movie/pizza. But a few months later, mystery charges of $10 to $20 a month appear on your bank statement, for membership in a club you have no memory of joining.

Surprise! You’ve been a victim of consumer fraud – thanks to that web site you trusted.

The practice is pervasive, and has cost unsuspecting consumers $1.4 billion, according to “Aggressive Sales Tactics on the Internet and Their Impact on American Consumers,” an investigative report released Tuesday by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. (You can read the full report here: online-ripoffs; and can find supporting documents here.)

Companies named in the report – and apparently profiting on the scam – include 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc.; AirTran Holdings, Inc.; Classmates.com, Inc.; Continental Airlines, Inc.; FTD, Inc.; Fandango, Inc.; Hotwire, Inc.; Intelius, Inc.; MovieTickets.com, Inc.; Orbitz Worldwide, Inc.; Pizza Hut, Inc.; Priceline.com, Inc.; Redcats USA, Inc.; Shutterfly, Inc.; US Airways Group, Inc.; and VistaPrint USA, Inc. (But that’s not all of them; there are many, many, many more.)

How does the scam work? Consider the experience of Chris Steffen of Los Angeles, who bought movie tickets through Movietickets.com in April 2007.

“I‘m not sure how or when this happened and I‘m sure part of it is oversight or my own fault,” Steffen wrote in a complaint. ”But somehow through the purchasing of movie tickets through your site I was signed up for Reservation Rewards and charged 10 dollars a month membership for multiple months. This means that when I ordered tickets through your service, the cost to me was not only the price of the tickets, but the inadvertent cost of being enrolled in a service plan I was not aware of.”

Read the rest of the article here –  Shop online? You may have been ripped off – OC Watchdog : The Orange County Register.

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