For those of you who are relaxed and perusing the holiday sales on the internet …

“Today’s payment” is only $9.95, so imagine your surprise when you start seeing monthly charges of $47.00 on your credit card beginning January 7, 2020?


Fraudsters never rest …

Double-check your shopping cart and beware of these common sales scams.

Shopping Cart Sneaks – where additional goods, services, and charges magically appear in your shopping cart, especially after a tedious multi-product shopping effort, Fraudsters are hoping that you will not see the fraudulently-inserted items or do not want to deal with the time and effort to remove the item or correct the totals.

Insurance Sneaks – some of these additional sneaks are the high-profit product “insurance” offers that are mostly forgotten and never redeemed. Or even worse, an even higher-profit offering sold as “delivery insurance.”

Bonus sneaks – others are bonus offers or orders to double or triple your order – getting the merchandise for “free” by paying only the added shipping and handling costs, which are highly inflated.

Subscription sneaks – Formally known as continuity offers, the initial low price often obscures that your credit card will be charged on a repeating basis for additional goods or access to website content. These offers are often headlined “free trial.”

Is it the best price?

Any offer that uses scarcity, deadline, or rising price mentions should be treated with suspicion. Some sites will actually offer you a lower price if you attempt to leave the site using a pop-up lower-priced offer. Sone will try and shame you into purchasing by having to click on a button that says “No Thanks, I don’t want to make/save/enjoy {insert the offer here}.

Social proof and testimonials.

Beware of testimonials and social proof. It is quite common to create your own review sites using negative headlines such as “Is {product} a fraud or a scam?” and then continuing on with the pitch.

Testimonials with asterisked disclaimers?

A special category of hell is reserved for those who use asterisks and anecdotal evidence of cures, which would be immediately banned by the FDA or FTC if the claims were made directly. It is cruel to offer suffers from chronic conditions relief by selling health-based newsletters, which mostly contain cures relating to test subjects such as mice or sell products that have only a trace of the advertised substance – nowhere near a therapeutic dose. And disclaimers that discount almost everything in the sales copy and disclaim all responsibility for any problems. It would be honest to put “you’re on your own” following the claim with the asterisk.

Celebrity or authoritarian endorsers…

Some people will say or do anything to make a buck, especially near the end of their careers. Consider that M.D. hawking “life-enhancing” miracle cures as just another actor in a white coat. Most of these medical mavens are general practitioners, have a different specialty, or are hawking a line of super-profitable products. Consider that any physician selling a product without knowing the user’s condition to be a form of media malpractice. Ditto with celebrities, who are accomplished in some way, and merely selling access to their name.

I am being bombarded with Bill O’Reilly’s testimonials …

O’Reilly was the host of a top-rated Fox News show for years until he was implicated in allegations of sexual misconduct and involved in an acrimonious divorce. O’Reilly is a solid journalist, an accomplished “on-the-fly” writer second only to the late 60-Minutes’ Andy Rooney, a best-selling author, and a great overall on-the-air personality. But, I do not consider him a financial genius or even a reliable source when it comes to financial products and services.


Bottom line…

The old advice is still solid in these digital days. Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware. And, the sage advice of the Better Business Bureau: “Investigate BEFORE you invest.”

When I was designing large-scale mailorder processing systems, the sellers were making so much money on the tax-free shipping and handling that we needed to create a separate line item that could be netted against actual postage and shipping supplies to satisfy the taxing authorities. The labor was already charged elsewhere. The profits were enormous and flowed directly to the bottom line. Additionally, we found “self-liquidating premiums,” which could be offered “free” or at little cost – with the shipping and handling charges covering the cost of the merchandise and shipping — a wonderful way to acquire a customer at little or no expense.

Remember, today’s digital designers will use the very same psychological tricks they use to addict gamers to entice you to purchase the merchandise you may not ultimately want, need, or gift to others.


-- steve

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS