DAYTON, OHIO, October 1, 2009 - Your Better Business Bureau is warning you to be extremely wary of pervasive online ads promising a whiter, brighter smile. Your BBB has received a recent onslaught of complaints from people who thought they were signing up for free trials of teeth whitening products, but were repeatedly billed for products and services they didn’t want.
The ubiquitous teeth whitener ads can be found on popular sites, such as FoxNews.com, CNN.com and ABCNews.com. The ads typically link you to phony blogs and fake news sites designed to look like impartial third-party product endorsements. The phony endorsements then direct you to a main Web site that claims the product sold is "As seen on" ABC, Forbes.com, CBS News, CNN and USA Today—and includes the news outlets’ logos.
"From the complaints we’ve received, it’s obvious many people are unfortunately letting their trust in respected news outlets influence their levels of trust in products being advertised on their Web sites," said John North, BBB president and CEO. "While it may be true teeth whitener advertisements were placed on major news Web sites, reporters for USA Today or CNN didn’t write stories about the efficacy of the specific products being sold."
The countless Web sites for various teeth whitening products claim to offer no-risk, money back guarantee, free product trials. To sign up, you must provide a credit or debit card number to cover shipping. Complainants to your BBB state they’re billed before their trials end and continue to be billed after they’ve told companies they want to cancel. Complainants also may find mystery charges for other companies and services they didn’t realize they were signing up for with their "free" trials.
Your BBB has identified several companies behind the teeth whitening ads and Web sites online including:
Dazzle White, White Smile, Teeth Smile and Dazzle Smile– Your BBB serving Edmonton has received 450 complaints in the last 12 months from people in 47 states, five Canadian provinces and the United Kingdom, about Dazzle White, White Smile, Teeth Smile and Dazzle Smile. Complainants report being billed as much as $79 for free trials and charged for several other services—such as a weight loss program.
Ivory White– Your BBB serving Denver has received 611 complaints from people in 46 states. Complainants say they were charged as much as $78 a month for free trials. Other related companies include Ortho White and Bella Brite which are mounting complaints as well. All three companies have been asked to add more disclosure to their Web sites regarding free trial offers. Your BBB hasn’t received responses to these requests yet.
Advanced Wellness Research– Your BBB serving West Palm Beach has received thousands of complaints from people regarding Advanced Wellness Research’s acai berry supplements and has begun to receive complaints about their teeth whiteners sold under the names of Max White, My Whitening, Gleaming White Smile and many others.
Your BBB offers the following advice on purchasing teeth whitening products online:
About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley
Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about your BBB.