The state Attorney General’s office has reached an agreement with a Florida buying club to refund money to 2,600 Iowans. Attorney General’s spokesman, Geoff Greenwood, says they looked into Global Travel International after a call from a Des Moines woman who had gotten a postcard from the company offering a free store gift card.
“So she calls to get the gift card and is told she has to pay a $3.95 shipping and handling card for the gift card. She asks some questions — rightly so — and she gets a confusing pitch, but is told ‘you are not buying anything’ this is just a handling charge for the gift card,” Greenwood says.
Greenwood says it’s a pitch that they have seen many times in the Attorney General’s office. “Someone contacts a consumer and says you’ve got a free offer, the consumer enrolls and unwittingly enrolls in a buying cub that results in monthly transactions on their account,” according to Greenwood. He says they looked into this particular club and found some things that weren’t right. “The disclosures weren’t there, consumers were confused and consumers were unwittingly enrolled,” Greenwood says. “So, we’ve reached an agreement with the company, the company is to provide the state about $45,000 in refunds that we will distribute to approximately 2,600 Iowa consumers.”
You do not have to do anything if you were one of the people who got into the buying club. “We’ve been provided a list by the company, a list that includes who has been charged across the state, and we will issue checks to those consumers,” Greenwood says. Greenwood says there are some key things to look for if you get this type of offer. “Consumers should just be naturally suspicious if a company wants to give you something for free, or a free trial offer out of the blue,” Greenwood says. “Some of these companies will give you the free trial offer and will enroll you unless you stop it. So consumers, whenever they hear the words free trial offer, free gift card, they should be suspicious.”
He says the companies often charge you small amounts for the buying club that tend to go unnoticed, so you should review all your financial statements to be sure you aren’t being billed for a club you did not want to enroll in. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division through the Attorney General’s website at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.