I signed up to be a mystery shopper with www.shadowshopper.com. I did not have a job and desperately needed work, and shadowshopper promised work in the form of mystery shopping.
I paid the $10 30-trial fee, and noticed my card was charged a month later for $99 that I did not authorize. I called the phone number repeatedly only to get a voicemail message stating if I left a message for "Johnathan" he would call back. Well I left numerous messages regarding the unauthorized fee, no return call. I even emailed the company - no response.
I contacted my bank and told them to take the charge off because I did not authorize it, but they said I may not be able to get the money back. I finally emailed the company again and told them I was reporting them to the authorities for fradulent activities and they finally responded and said there were numerous places on the site that alerted me I would be charged an automatic fee if I didn't cancel my membership in time.
I never saw these words and I find the company to be extremely deceptive in their business practices. They never clearly listed the fact they would charge you automatically, never clearly gave you the option to change your settings, it seems to be a one person company consisting of just "Johnathon" who never answers emails or returns phone calls, and I still haven't gotten a mystery shopping job and I've applied to just about every one that is sent to me.
PLEASE do not sign up with this company!! They are a complete fraud and completely misleading. Don't even sign up for the trial because they are not a real mystery shopping company and they will fraudulently charge your account. I think its just some little high school geek sitting up in his parent's house trying to run a company on the internet.
Here is a copy of the email he sent me after I threatened to turn him over to the authorities:
I emailed you a few weeks ago regarding charging my card without my authorization for an automatic renewal. I do not recall signing up for an automatic renewal for $99. But this was charged to my card without my approval. I called and emailed you to discuss this yet no one has responded so I have turned this case over to be investigated as fraud.
If anyone is available to discuss this matter, please email me back.
Thank you for contacting us. I just took a look at your account and the charge you are referring to is accurate. You signed up for the trial membership and you were renewed, exactly as described in the trial offer & terms you agreed to when you signed up for the trial membership.
As we clearly (in bold type) explained in the offer before you signed up, and in several instances during your trial membership, the trial membership automatically renews to a year's membership unless you change your preference (this is explained in 6 different places see below). You could have cancelled the automatic renewal at any time during the trial by logging into the site and going to the My Information section or, by notifying us via email. Since you did neither, per the agreement you made when you signed up, you were renewed automatically.
Also in the terms and conditions you agreed to, it's clearly stated that, You may choose to cancel your membership after the renewal transaction has occurred, however, no refunds will be issued, either in full or for the unused portion of membership. This is reiterated in the My Information section of the website.
For your convenience I've included the offer, terms and conditions, and other instances where the trial membership terms are clearly stated, for your reference.
1. TRIAL DESCRIPTION ON ORDERING FORM (before joining in BOLD):
And, if you're as happy as we think you'll be, do nothing and we'll automatically renew your membership when it expires. If you're not completely satisfied, just go into your account preferences to cancel your renewal anytime before your membership is up. No questions and no further obligation.
2. TERMS OF SERVICE (before joining):
[Box you checked states, "I have read and agree to the above terms and conditions." ]
On the 30th day of your trial membership, your credit card on file will be charged for continuing membership at your current membership level, Silver or Gold, for the time period you have specified, either 90 days or 1 year, based on the preferences you have set on your Account Information page. You may request NOT to have your credit card automatically charged for renewal anytime during the 30 day trial period, by either changing your account preferences yourself on the Account Information page located at https://www.shadowshopper.com/myshadowshopper_shopper_account_information.cfm (select "I'll do it myself. Don't automatically renew") under Account Renewal Preference, or by emailing us a notification of your intent to prevent automatic renewal prior to the time of renewal. If neither of these actions is taken prior to the renewal transaction, you agree to pay the full renewal charge. NO refunds, for any reason, will be issued after the renewal transaction has occurred. You may choose to cancel your membership after the renewal transaction has occurred, however, no refunds will be issued, either in full or for the unused portion of membership.
3. WELCOME EMAIL (after joining)
Toward the bottom of the email it states, And remember, if you're as happy as we think you'll be, do nothing and we'll automatically renew you for a year's membership at the end of your trial.
4. MY INFORMATION LOGIN PAGE (after joining)
At very top of page it states, Melody you are currently a ShadowShopper Gold Level member. Your account is due to automatically renew on 11 September 2004.
5. MY INFORMATION ACCOUNT PREFERENCES PAGE (after joining)
Under heading VI., the page states, Choose your account renewal preference.
When your trial membership expires on 11 September 2004 we'll automatically renew your membership. We'll use your credit card listed above and renew your membership for One Year ($99.00)
6. COMMON QUESTIONS PAGE (before joining)
Towards the bottom of the page is the question, Will my membership renew automatically?
Yes, all our memberships are set to automatically renew when your membership expires, for your convenience. You may request NOT to have your credit card automatically charged anytime before the renewal occurs, by either changing your account preferences yourself or by emailing us a notification of your intent to prevent automatic renewal. To change your renewal preference yourself, simply go to your Account Information page located here (NOTE: you must be logged in for this link to work). Select "I'll do it myself. Don't automatically renew" and click the 'update' button and your request will be immediately processed. You will also receive an email confirming your action for your records.
ShadowShopper Customer Service