Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers across the country about Central Coast Nutraceuticals, a company that advertises health related products online by offering $1 risk-free trials.
Central Coast Nutraceuticals (CCN) offers products on 14 websites ranging from non-FDA approved cholesterol reducers to weight loss and male enhancement products. BBB has received nearly 2000 inquiries and closed 1,008 complaints since September 2008. Most consumer complaints are similar in nature, alleging unauthorized charges, confusing return policies and difficulty in obtaining reasonable customer service. Many complaints remain unresolved. The company currently has an ‘F’ rating with BBB. In addition, BBB has nearly 400 consumer complaints against the company that are pending resolution.
“Consumers across the United States complain that while they thought they purchased a $1 risk-free trial of the product, they soon discovered that their credit cards were charged for more than the trial price and they did not receive any products until after the trial period ended,” said BBB Operations Director Carrie Bowen.
Additionally, consumers complain their credit/debit card and email information was given to another company, Fit Factory, who bills them for a subscription to an online fitness and diet consultation service they did not request. Pre-checked boxes appear after the company’s product order form that automatically sign up the consumer for other products like the Fit Factory.
“We have spoken with CCN’s owner Graham Gibson regarding the company’s volume of complaints and questionable business practices. It appears that the underlying cause of complaints is stemming from the company’s negative option which requires consumers to manually “uncheck” pre-checked items located within the risk-free trial order form,” Bowen said. “Mr. Gibson has indicated that CCN is unwilling to change this practice. If these items are not unchecked, the consumer will be billed for them.”
A disclaimer on the company’s websites state, “I understand that this consumer transaction involves a negative option and that I may be liable for payment of future goods and services under the terms of this agreement for $39.95 per month if I fail to notify the supplier not to supply the goods or services described."
Complaints received by BBB also allege the company does not honor their cancellation policy and consumers have difficulty contacting the company and experience hold times up to 75 minutes.
The Arizona Attorney General’s office recently announced a lawsuit against Central Coast Nutraceuticals for violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act for a pattern of deceptive practices in its online sales.
More Cause for Concern
The complaints made against CCN are not the only cause for concern, according to BBB. The non-profit organization has found multiple instances of deceptive advertising on the company’s websites which it believes will continue to mislead consumers. The websites feature endorsements from TV personalities Oprah and Rachel Ray as well as reports from national news media.
“It is important to note that while these personalities may have endorsed or reported on certain ingredients such as green tea or hoodia that can be found in the company’s products, they have not specifically endorsed the products sold by CCN,” Bowen stated. “The way they have designed the websites can easily mislead consumers. The product performance claims have not been proven,” Bowen stated.
The following are websites featuring Central Coast Nutraceuticals’ products:
Consumers who believe they are being charged for unauthorized services associated with Central Coast Nutraceutical should file a complaint online with BBB at www.arizonabbb.org and the Arizona Attorney General’s office at www.azag.gov.
About BBB Serving Central, Northern & Western Arizona
BBB is an unbiased 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. Incorporated locally in 1938, today your BBB serves communities in Central, Northern and Western Arizona, supported by over 9,500 BBB Accredited Businesses. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.