In the Fall of 2008 my Citibank mastercard was lost or stolen. I telephoned Citibank immediately and asked if there had been any charges in the past 24 hours.. Only one had been posted. It was from Shopping Essentials, a name I didn't recognize and knew I hadn't contacted in the past day. I telephoned and disputed the charge. Whomever I spoke with at Shopping Essentials removed it immediately without mentioning that they had been charging me monthly since June 2006. Citibank issued me a new credit card number and I thought that was the end of the story.
When I did my taxes in April, I saw that Shopping Essentials billed me monthly since June 2006 and raised the monthly fee over time. I never got a statement from that company and I never used its services. (The only email I found on my computer were two in my junk file confirming cancellation of my membership and credit of one month's charge back in November 2008.) I telephoned Shopping Essentials in April and spoke to a supervisor named Keith (#154101). He agreed to refund the amounts I had been charged during 2008 (nine months worth), sending a check to Citibank to be credited to my account. I asked how my enrollment had occurred. He said it appeared I joined by clicking on an internet banner ad and entering my credit information back in June 2006.
I do know that around that time in 2006 I clicked on a computer screen that asked me to vote on whether I approved of Bush to win a laptop. That screen led to others that sucked up about two hours of my time but didn't yield a laptop. One part of it was, in order to receive my laptop, I'd have to choose three offers. One of them may have been Shopping Essentials. I don't recall because I never received any "membership" information by email or snail mail. I do recall canceling something that I ordered during that attempt to get a free laptop within the correct expiration period. I didn't make a note of it.
Anyway, I use my credit card instead of cash and have learned the hard way to check every small purchase. Over the years, the monthly fee for Shopping Essentials went from $18.95 to $25.95! The amount was small enough that it didn't catch my attention. Citibank says it isn't "fraud" since it was on my mastercard bill.
I related what happened to a good friend who is sixty-four. The exact same thing happened to him. He had been trying to "win" a set of art materials online. He told me he called Shopping Essentials several times to cancel his "membership" but it is still active.
I guess I'm lucky my mastercard was lost or stolen, since the number was cancelled immediately by me.
However this occurred, it has the appearance of Shopping Essentials preying on unsophisticated computer users and perhaps the elderly. I am over sixty. They refunded me the ten months' worth of charges they billed me in 2008 without a comment. The person I spoke with in November 2008 refunded me a month when I thought my card had been used by a thief without comment.
I wish a class action suit could be brought against these sleezebags.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina