Beware extra charges when ordering

December 19, 2008 Michele is now extra careful when shopping from home. The last time she ordered something from a catalog, she was invited to join a third-party discount buying club called Shopping Essentials.

Though Michele said no at least five times, Shopping Essentials charged her credit card $11.95 a month for membership anyway.

Shopping Essentials tells Action News the catalog company represented to them that it clearly informed Michele about the terms of our program.

Shopping Essentials also says it mailed Michele membership materials that restated those terms and features.

The company also says because customer satisfaction is important to us "we issued a refund... We apologize for any misunderstanding and inconvenience this matter may have caused"

"Shopping Essentials or its actual parent company received over 2,500 complaints in three years, in the last year over 1,000 complaints," Andrew Goode of the Better Business Bureau said.

Many of the complaints were about Shopping Essentials' parent company, Vertrue, automatically enrolling and charging consumers for various programs without the consumers' knowledge

"A lot of people miss the fact that for months, they've been paying these charges and they often escalate over the years , so you might pay $9 this year, but next year it might be $29 the year after that it might be $100 a month," Goode said.

So check your credit card and bank statements every month.

When ordering by phone, keep a record of the date, time, and who you talked to.

When ordering online, read through the entire purchase page, uncheck boxes that offer promotions and programs you don't want.

Beware because many mainstream, popular retailers partner with third party marketing companies. That means at any time, you may be offered something by one of these companies and not even realize it.

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