The Belisi Tie offer comes via another e-mail offer for a "you have won a free Plasma TV". This begins as a simple "all you have to do to claim your TV is answer our advertising survey", which progresses in normal fashion and explains that the advertisers all pay for the free TV in exchange for marketing data. After 10 minutes it becomes apparent that you have to select and "PURCHASE" 4 products to qualify. It progressively gets worse as after purchasing 4 products you find out that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I finally figured out the game and that I would really be paying dearly for the so called "free plasma TV". I suggest you never, ever answer any e-mail offering anything free because it is all cleverly disguised deceptive advertising.
I selected the Belisi Tie offer as one of the product purchases. The 3 ties showed up and represent a very good product and deal at $ 3.95 each + shipping. Unfortunately, a month later another Tie shows up with an invoice for $39.95 stating "As you authorized, $ 39.95 has been charged to your American Express" (the account used to purchase the intro offer). They provide your club membership ID and talk about your next monthly scheduled order delivery and their website and their policy on returns and or exchange.
This is all news to me as the initial order page from the above described survey offer, of which Belisi is a paid advertiser, does not state or is ambiguous with respect to your "automatic" acceptance into their tie of the month club. Who on earth needs to purchase one new tie each month at a cost of $ 480 per year anyway? pretty stupid in my opinion but I am sure Belisi Fashions is laughing all the way to the bank.
I am quite sure that somewhere in the delivery of the initial three ties, a full disclosure of what you have been sucked into is available. Don't know about you but when I order something on-line (never again), it shows up, I open it and put it away or use it. This is where this type of business gets you. The small print within the delivery invoice probably spells out the automatic rebilling and monthly club delivery and that you only have so many days to return, blah,blah,blah. If you miss this wording added to the invoice, which i am sure 99% of the receiving customers do, they feel you are now legally obligated.
Technically they would be correct and that is the basis for the defensive, argumentative attitude found when speaking to their very smart-alic customer services reps. They have that attitude because they are dealing with customer calls complaining about how they were misled or "conned" and billed for something they did not want and were not made aware of, all day long.
We as consumers need to write to the Federal Trade Commission and sites like this to prohibit advertising that is misleading and presented in a deceptive or HIDDEN manner. The customer service reps statement of " can't you read" clearly indicates that they purposely present the finer details of the club obligation at a time when you are least likely to pay attention to the fine print. Again, you are normally expecting just an invoice reflecting payment with delivery and not a contractual arrangement into a club incorporating automatic billing, membership and cancellation instructions tied to a time limit "if you don't respond or cancel within that timeframe".
All of these types of advertisers should be required to place a statement next to a box that can be checked during the initial order process. That box, if checked by the consumer, should state the following consumer disclosure in large, bold print located next to the payment detail box:
" By checking this box, you hereby understand and accept, that this initial tie offer is subject to your further participation in Belisi Fashions Club Membership, which will obligate you to purchase (___# of ties) each month at a price of $34.95 plus shipping and handling and will be autobilled to your credit card account."
The deception is in the fact that they do not make this caveat clear and concise up front in a transparent manner. I would say to Belisi Fashions, what kind of customer base and reputation do you think you will build under these circumstances and practices"?
So, I have sent an e-mail to their customer service requesting a refund and return authorization of all ties and that I was not aware of the conditionality of their initial offer. I will report back on how this is handled.
New Hope, Pennsylvania