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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney representing individuals and businesses.
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I just found out that since June I have been charged $ 99 a

Customer Question

I just found out that since June I have been charged $ 99 a month to be enrolled in a dating service. I signed for a lifetime " free " membership. So I have been charged three times, when I thought the service was free. I thought the company made it's money by selling Upgrades and other services. I was charged something like $ 1.99 for the membership. Therefore I have paid out appx. $ 300 to this outfit. I contacted them along with a bank employee at B of A. They told me that as a courtesy, they would refund this months payment of $99. They told me that they would not give me the refund if I were to consult the Attorney Generals office to report this matter. I feel like I was defrauded. What should I do ?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

There is a series of escalating things you can do to deal with this situation. (Some of this you have already done, but I am listing all of the remedies in order to have a complete list for you).

  • *First: start with the company's customer service and dispute the claim. Keep your complaint in writing. If you speak to someone by phone, follow up promptly with a "confirmation letter" (see my note below).
  • *Second: (you can do this at the same time), if you paid by credit card (not debit card) you can open a dispute with your credit card carrier (follow the instructions with your credit card company). (Some banks do allow for charge disputes on your debit card - but not all, the laws are not the same and debit card purchases do not have the same protections, if you paid by debit card, contact your bank and see if they do have dispute resolution remedies).
  • *Third: open a dispute with the BBB. The BBB offers consumer dispute resolution that is fast, free to consumers, and is usually effective, they have no enforcement authority, but all BBB disputes result in a public report regarding resolution so businesses do respond to them. You can open a BBB dispute here: bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started
  • *Fourth: if you believe that the company is acting fraudulently (not just charging high rates), you can report them to the state Attorney General. The AG's office does not prosecute individual claims (so they will not get your money back for you), but they will investigate and potentially take administrative and/or criminal action against the company. https://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company
  • *Finally: you can file a small claims action against them for breach of contract. Small claims actions take approximately 3-8 months to go to trial. There is no guarantee of success in these disputes, but filing a small claims action does open an opportunity to negotiate a resolution (in addition to the above opportunities and can lead to mediation - many courts offer mediation programs for their small claims docket). http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm

Confirmation letters: Keep written records of all communications - so if you speak to someone by phone, promptly send a follow up "confirmation letter" summarizing your conversation, who you spoke to, when, and any agreements you reached. Keep copies of your outgoing correspondence, as well as anything that you receive.

I wish you the best of luck with this dispute, and hopefully a speedy resolution.

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