A DENTAL whitening products scam has been a real kick in the teeth for one customer.
George Pinnington is the latest buyer to have been cheated out his hard-earned cash after buying the products online from an overseas company.
The former policeman applied for a ‘free trial’ offer in December.
The Meltham man, a keen musician, was told if he was not satisfied with the products he could return them within 14 days and would not be charged.
The free trial was for two products which work together – the Alta White and Clean Whites.
But the products failed to arrive at the same time, one after the 14 day time limit, and he found he had been charged twice – once on a credit card which the website said had been refused.
Mr Pinnington, a member of the Greater Manchester Police Military Band, said: “I’m a pipe smoker and it stains the teeth a bit so I thought I’d give it a go.
“Previously I’ve got the packs from a reputable British company but I’d run out and saw this online.
“It was a good offer as it was a trial but somehow I’d ended up entering myself into a ‘maintenance agreement’.
“Then when I tried to put my credit card details into the system it didn’t recognise it, so I tried another.
“It was only when I was looking at my credit card statements I saw they’d taken money from two accounts – one of the ones it rejected.”
Mr Pinnington made many attempts to contact the company, based in America, with little success.
He added: “From the point of view of contacting these companies they are almost non-existent.
“Eventually I found a phone number and got an American girl but it would have been more helpful speaking to my cat who died last year.
“I gave it up as a lesson I must learn from but I’d like to warn other people about this.”
When people apply for a ‘free trial’ they are entered into a subscription contract for more of the product which is charged to their card every month.
The contracts can be extremely difficult to cancel.
And since the product may not arrive within the 14-day return limit, customers have little option to cancel.
Mr Pinnington said: “I later re-read the conditions that I had apparently volunteered for. These had been, obviously, made difficult to understand, but it seems that if the product was returned unopened within 14 days, no maintenance charge would be made.
“All well and good, except that it had taken almost 14 days for the first of the whiteners to arrive.
“As both products originated in America, there was little chance of being able to return them.
“I am now £190 out of pocket, and being stuck with the blighted stuff, I thought I’d give it a try. It doesn’t work!”
“I truly believe that these ‘trial offer’ scams should be forced to carry a warning. Something on the lines of ‘this product will seriously damage the health of your bank account’ should do the trick.”
The Examiner made repeated attempts to contact the company involved but without success.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards say they’ve had no complaints about the service, but warn against buying the products online from overseas retailers due to varying strengths, particularly in America and South Africa.