NutraClick Agrees to Change Billing Practices in Settlement with Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Company allegedly lured consumers with "free" items then charged recurring fee without consent
Nutritional supplement manufacturer NutraClick has agreed to settle charges levied by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The agency alleged that NutraClick lured customers with "free" samples, then illegally charged them recurring fees on a monthly basis without their authorization. Allegedly it did not clearly notify the customers who ordered the samples that they were being enrolled in a membership program and would then be charged an amount between $29.99 and $79.99—depending on the product—unless they canceled their membership within a trial period of 18 days.
At least 70,000 people filed complaints with the FTC, which also claims that the company gained tens of millions of dollars from the illegal charges.
The company sells its brands—Force Factor, Peak Life, ProBioSlim, SomnaPure, VolcaNO, and Stages of Beauty—on its websites and in stores like Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, and GNC. The illegal sign-up process was conducted on the websites.
Under the stipulated order of the settlement, NutraClick must change its billing practices and is prohibited from misrepresenting the cost of a product or service, as well as from falsely implying that its offers will cost consumers nothing when in fact they will be charged. The company is also barred from the following in regard to sales with a negative-option feature:
- Getting billing information for consumers without first notifying them either that there will be a charge or that the charge will be increased after a certain trial period, and, if applicable, that the charges will take place on a recurring basis unless consumers cancel their membership. They must also be notified about the cost or range of costs, as well as the deadline and method for cancelling the membership.
- Not sending confirmation to consumers of a sales transaction including the clear disclosures required by the court within 10 days
- Using consumers' billing information to get payment without previously obtaining their express written consent
- Not providing a simple method for consumers to be able to avoid being charged and to cancel
The company is also prohibited by the order from violating the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act and must also pay $350,000 from its illegal profits.