The Fine Print: That Check is an Unwanted Subscription!

Ready for some of the most shocking Fine Print you’ve ever seen?

This week’s example is certainly creative; I’ll say that much. This comes courtesy of a large company that shall remain unnamed, but that has a large reputation and vast clientele.

This company sends its customers checks in the mail. Upon first glance, these look like rebate checks or rewards checks. And the wording in the letter that accompanies the check certainly makes it sound like the customers are getting a reward.

 Great, the customer thinks. I’ve been a longtime customer, and they’re rewarding me with this credit or rebate. There’s nothing unusual about that. Credit-card companies frequently reward their cardholders with cashback, airline miles or points. Some banks reward their members with occasional bonuses or perks. Stores and restaurants reward their customers with small free gift cards – perhaps worth $10 or less – to encourage them to come in and shop. So why should a $10 check be suspicious?

If you read all the way down to the bottom of the fine print, though, the letter discloses:

Holy moly, you just enrolled in some subscription program that carries a monthly membership fee! And you didn’t even know it! You thought you were just cashing a check, didn’t you?!

How’s that for getting blindsided by the Fine Print?!

This company has garnered an “unsatisfactory” rating from the Better Business Bureau “due to unanswered complaints and a pattern of complaints concerning deceptive selling practices, unauthorized charges to consumer’s credit cards and non-cancellation of memberships following cancellation requests.”

And the attorney general of California publicly stated that this company “used deceptive billing practices to maintain their ill-gotten income stream.”

Yeah, I’ll say!


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