by: Elizabeth Garcia and Julia Cherry and Nexstar Media Wire
Posted: Aug 22, 2020 / 1:52 pm CDT
Updated: August 22, 2020 / 1:52 p.m. CDT
A close-up of the hands of a young woman using a cellphone
NEW YORK (WHNT) – The Better Business Bureau warns consumers about om, a popular app-based weight loss service.
According to BBB Serving Metropolitan New York, where om is based, customers have filed well over a thousand complaints that the company offers misleading free trials and that subscriptions are difficult to cancel after completing the free trials.
"Many home-stay consumers are looking for options to help them meet their health and wellness goals during this time of the pandemic," said Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of BBB Serving Metropolitan New York. "Smartphone applications and online programs may seem handy – especially when combined with attractive free trial offers – but consumers must always be careful when purchasing a weight loss service."
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Between August 16, 2019 and August 18, 2020, BBB received 1,213 consumer complaints related to om, a significant increase in the number of complaints compared to previous years. As of July 2017, om has filed a total of 2,023 complaints.
According to complaints at BBB, consumers are reportedly trying to cancel the trial offer before it ends, but the subscription will still be billed. Some of these consumers said that the monthly membership cost after the free trial was between $ 20 and $ 40. Instead, they found that at the end of the free trial they were charged several months in advance, resulting in alleged charges of between $ 120 and $ 180 or more.
Consumers consistently reported having difficulty contacting om's customer service team to request a refund. They then reached out to BBB for assistance.
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As of Friday, om's BBB business profile is rated D due to the high volume of complaints filed against the company and the company's failure to address the underlying cause of its most recent complaint pattern.
To avoid losing money on free trial and subscription services, especially in health and wellness, BBB recommends the following tips:
- Be careful with free trial offers and fully understand all terms before signing up. Free trial offers are common in the health and beauty category. Some offers can become “subscription traps”, tricking consumers into paying for expensive products or services that they did not intend or did not purchase. Be careful and exercise caution when the terms and conditions say payment is from your credit card pending cancellation.
- Determine your fitness goals and review the details. It's hard work to lose weight. Find a program to stick with, preferably one that you enjoy, with goals that seem reasonable to you. Make sure you understand how the product or service is supposed to work. Does a Weight Loss Plan Require You to Buy Special Groceries? Can you quit if you move or find that the program does not meet your needs?
- Always be careful of "over-promises" in advertisements and testimonials for weight loss services. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gradually losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is a healthy goal and more successful for achieving long-term weight loss.
- Report a concern. If you come across an ad for a weight loss program or product that feels too promising or misleading, report it. Contact your BBB, report any suspicious, confusing, or misleading ads to BBB Ad Truth, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. Before buying, do some research on the company at BBB.org. Many companies that specialize in weight loss programs or products have many years of consumer experience with BBB. Check out what people have to say about the product or company name by looking up BBB.org and generally searching the internet for complaints related to issues you may encounter.
For more information, see the free trial offers. Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker. Sign up for BBB Scam Alerts. Always look for companies that adhere to BBB accreditation standards and BBB standards for trust. Source: BBB.org
To report a scam, visit the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy companies, go to https://www.bbb.org.