I clicked on an ad for an IQ test on cnbc.com, the financial website. When I got to the end of it, it said verbatim "enter your cell phone number to get your IQ result sent to you". Once you enter your cellphone number, a new screen is displayed and it says verbatim "enter your secret PIN that we texted you to get your score". The quoted text was all in HUGE letters, all other text on the page is much smaller.
When I entered the PIN, I still did not get to see my score......but now I looked more closely at the surrounding text and it dawned on me that I had signed up for a paid service. Yes, that info was buried in the Terms of Service, but the way this ad/scam was constructed falls under deceptive and unfair trade practices in my opinion. It is therefore illegal. Flycell is a wholly owned subsidiary of an Italian company. Maybe this kind of bambozzling is legal in Italy, but here in the US it is illegal and a good way to destroy your brand.
The text said that if you wanted to stop, then reply "stop", which I did. I then called Flycell to make sure that I had not been charged anything. They said that they had in fact charged me, and explained to me that I have to read the terms of service and that they could not refund. I responded "it is very simple - either you give me a refund, or I will complain to the FCC and speak to a class-action attorney. You decide what you want to happen here." The customer service rep, who was in India, went and spoke to his supervisor and they decided to refund. They said that the refund would arrive in the form of a check within 6 weeks, and we will see if it does.
You could say that my IQ score, which I never did get to see, must be low. I own a small internet business, I am a fairly smart guy, and yet I fell for it. This is one of the most deceptive ways of doing business that I have ever seen. Below is some further evidence of flycell's sliminess.
Once you have clicked on the ad, you are on officialiqquiz.com (NOT flycell.com). Even though you are on officialiqquiz.com, everywhere is says Copyright 2009 Puzzleiqquiz.com. When you go to puzzleiqquiz.com, it just says "LN" on the front page. That is it. When you try to look up who owns puzzleiqquiz.com, it turns out that information is cloaked. You are referred to contactprivacy.com
When you go to the front page of officialiqquiz.com, flycell is not mentioned. Not on the page, not under the terms of service. When you look up who owns officialiqquiz.com, you are also referred to contactprivacy.com, a domain name ownership cloaking company. Cloaking the ownership is legal, but why is flycell going to such lengths to make sure YOU don't know who you are signing up with? Could it be because they already have a bad name?
The first text I got from Flycell (the one with the PIN), said (verbatim):
ENTER PIN 4 UR IQ Score
& mobile downloads by Flycell. t&cs:flycell.com. Quit?txt:stop.help4helpor 800 580 0017 $19.99/mo. Std msg charges apply.
But the only thing I saw on my phone screen was the first two lines (I hardly ever use texting). And nowhere does it say plainly "you will be charged $19.99 per month".
Once I got them to agree to a refund, I clicked on the ad again, but did not sign up. It is worth noting that they still texted me a PIN, even though I had just gotten off the phone with them and told them that I never wanted to have anything to do with them again. You think they would have blocked that number in their system, at least for 30 days. No, not flycell - any phone number is a potential revenue soruce for them, something to leech on to and bleed dry.
It i also worth noting that this second PIN-text I got had different text and a different price. It said (verbatim):
Pin=XXXX<<<Get fun facts mobile alerts 1msg/wk Info=HELP or 866616076 $9.99/mo sub auto renew, Quit=STOP. Othr chgs may apply
Again, no affirmative statement like "by entering the PIN, you are agreeing to charges".
I think the evidence is fairly overwhelming that Flycell is slimepowered corporation. They should change their name to Slycell. Or FlyByNightCell.