Your Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be extremely wary of pervasive online ads offering the promise of a whiter, brighter smile. BBBs across the country have received a recent onslaught of complaints from consumers who thought they were signing up for a free trial of teeth whitening products but were repeatedly billed for products and services they didn’t want.
Some of the ubiquitous ads for teeth whiteners can be found on popular sites such as FoxNews.com, CNN.com and ABCNews.com. The ads typically link consumers to phony blogs and fake news sites that are designed to look like impartial third party endorsements of the products. The phony endorsements then direct the consumer 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 logos of these news outlets.
The countless Web sites for various teeth whitening products claim to offer a no-risk, money back guaranteed, free trial of the product. To sign up, customers must provide a credit or debit card number to cover shipping. Complainants to BBB state that they are billed before their trial ends and continue to be billed after they have told the company they want to cancel. Complainants also may find mystery charges for other companies and services that they didn’t realize they were signing up for with their “free” trial.
“This is unfortunately a common problem online now,” said Dale Mingilton, President & CEO of BBB serving Denver/Boulder. “We’ve requested many companies, including those that are selling teeth whiteners this way, to modify their advertising to clearly disclose those ‘hidden’ terms and conditions that are causing so many complaints.”
BBB has identified several companies that are behind the teeth whitening ads and Web sites online including:
Dazzle White, White Smile, Teeth Smile and Dazzle Smile – The BBB serving Edmonton has received 450 complaints in the last 12 months from consumers 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 the free trial and are charged for several other services—such as a weight loss program.
Ivory White – The BBB serving Denver/Boulder has received 611 complaints from consumers in 46 states. Complainants say they were charged as much as $78 a month for their free trial. 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 the free trial offer. The BBB has not yet received a response to these requests.
Advanced Wellness Research – The BBB serving West Palm Beach has received thousands of complaints from consumers regarding Advanced Wellness Research’s acai berry supplements and has begun to receive complaints from consumers about their teeth whiteners sold under the names of Max White, My Whitening, Gleaming White Smile and many others.
BBB offers the following advice to consumers on purchasing teeth whitening products online:
# # # #
The BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Reliability ReportsTM on businesses and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 125 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit www.denver.bbb.org for more information.