Beware of Awesome Auger's Awesome Shipping And Processing Fees

Reader Patrick wrote to us about a scam involving the “Awesome Auger.” After finishing his transaction on their website, Patrick thought that his total price came to $28.98, but he soon came to realization that the only thing awesome about the “Awesome Auger” was the amount that they charge for “shipping and processing” on the auger’s “free” items. All said and done, Patrick was billed $56.80 on his credit card. Patrick’s letter inside…

Hey Consumerist – I wanted to let you know about a scam that’s going on right now, and is hitting many people, including myself.

A few weeks back, I saw a commercial for a product called the “Awesome Auger” on television. Normally, I would be reluctant to try products “As Seen on TV” because of their usually outrageous claims, but I had just had very good luck with the PedEgg (I would highly recommend it to anyone). I am an avid gardener, and figured that this would help, and at the low price of $19.99 plus $8.99 shipping and handling, it seemed like a really good deal and suggested my wife get me it for Father’s Day. Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly do my research on the company I was ordering from until after I placed the order, and ultimately, this turned into a disaster.

My wife, being the thoughtful person that she is, decided to order it for me. When my wife placed the order, you cannot even get into their site until you enter the credit card number for the order, which we both thought was unusual. She completed placing the order, and then called me and said that she thought it was very unusual that it doesn’t give a total at the end for the order to even confirm the amount.

A few weeks passed, and finally we get a confirmation e-mail from the site – and now they are charging us for $56.80 instead of the $28.98 we thought we were being charged. Immediately upon receiving this notification, I was on the phone with the Awesome Auger company. I talked to an agent by the name of Amanda, a completely unfriendly woman who probably has to deal with call after call, who explained that the additional charge was for the shipping and handling on the “free” items, and that there was nothing she could do because “it says it somewhere on the site” (which as I said, we cannot even verify because you have to supply a credit card even before getting to this site). I asked to completely cancel my order, and she said that although the order hadn’t been shipped yet it was sitting in their warehouse, so she couldn’t completely cancel the order. I of course informed her of my rights as a consumer, and she informed me that once I did do a BBB complaint, and a chargeback THAT’S when they would be able to work with me. I asked for a manager, and was told that one was unavailable and that they would call me back.

I proceeded to call back immediately and try to get another rep. who possibly could help me a little more, and got Michael. Michael was much more friendly then Amanda but just as unhelpful, and even went as far to admit that he could understand how the website was “confusing”, although he wouldn’t straight out admit that it was misleading. He said he couldn’t supply me with a full refund because the order has already been shipped (a contradiction of the phone call I had 5 minutes prior). I asked him for a shipping number, for which I looked it up and it shows on both FedEx and USPS that it hadn’t been shipped (he said that both shipping companies handle the item). Michael forwarded me to Jill, the manager there, who told me that she would call me back after a few days.

During this time, I finally did the research that I should have done upfront, and found numerous sites (http://www.infomercialratings.com/product/awesome_auger_reviews for example) where people have ran into the same scam! Needless to say, I knew I wouldn’t be seeing resolution. She did end up calling me back this morning, and refusing to offer any solution to the problem except me returning the items and paying for S&H. Jill even admitted to me that she had 4 other people to get back to with the same exact situation just this morning!

Consumerist, please do me a huge favor and make sure that your readers know to stay away from this scam, and anything that that shouting fool Billy Mays is advertising on TV.

One small update to the story – we’ve also discovered that this Awesome Auger company has also given our credit card information to one of their “partners.” When this company called “Quality Resources” called us offering a $40 WalMart gift card, they indicated when they called that we made an online purchase with one of their “partners” – and the Awesome Auger is literally the only online purchase we have ever made with my wife’s name and my cell phone number and they keep calling my phone asking for her.

Here’s information on this company: http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-727-712-0382 , and they literally will not stop calling us after repeated attempts to be removed.

I beg you guys, please post this story so that no other consumers are going to go through this. I thank you guys in advance.

Thank you,

Patrick
Elyria, OH

We checked the link you provided and it seems you may have gotten off easy. One person writes about getting charged $90, and another one $146 because his zip code was far away.

We are certainly glad you had enough sense to use your credit card versus a debit card. Unless you have done so already, start your chargeback as soon as possible. Even if all the hidden numbers are tucked away somewhere on their sneaky website, credit card companies are usually pretty understanding about these types of scams.

Comments

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  1. smonk says:

    Did the Auger folks do anything wrong? In the image above it says (Just Pay S+P) after both items…it’s also on the image when you go onto their site…the extra S+P is in plain view 4 times on their home page…in fact ever infomercial I see they mention that you just pay S+P with free items.

    I never bought anything from these commercials but I assumed the S+P was going to be high and I would have asked…I think the buyer is just naive and a charge back is not right.

  2. sir_eccles says:

    Remember, if you’re getting this item of $50 value for only $19.95 + shipping it either isn’t worth $50 or the shipping will make up the difference.

    But wait there’s more, order now and get another snarky comment absolutely free!

  3. If as you say there is no confirmation screen with the total amount. Can’t you call you credit card company and say I never agreed to pay that amount? It should be a piece of cake. Without a confirmation screen you couldn’t have agreed to pay them.

    I might be missing something.

  4. blue_duck says:

    How is Billy Mayes gonna play us like that?!

  5. If as you say there was no confirmation page with the total amount listed, It should be an easy dispute with your credit card company. With out a confirmation page you never agreed to pay them anything right?

  6. basket548 says:

    Not to pile on the OP, but any site that insists that you give your credit card info before giving you a total amount is probably going to charge more than you think. While the site is certainly misleading, it does clearly state that you’ll be paying more than $29 (though how much more seems pretty arbitrary).

    On another note, if you absolutely must have a product that you see advertised on an infomercial, DO NOT buy it through the infomercial – just doing a simply Google Products search showed dozens of companies willing to sell the Auger without demanding payment up front.

  7. Chols says:

    I wouldn’t trust Billy Mays to sell me a sno cone

  8. Nytmare says:

    @smonk: Did you read the post? It says the price for S&H was expected to be $8.99.

  9. mikedt says:

    This is another case those single use credit card numbers with which you can set a max charge amount are useful. See if your card company offers that tool.

    When I saw the commercial on tv I knew it was a scam when they offered a cordless drill for free, just pay shipping and processing. As soon as you hear that (and you don’t hear what the shipping/processing costs) you know it’s a scam.

  10. TouchMyMonkey says:

    In spite of my curiosity regarding whether I can actually drill a hole in hard, not already cultivated clay using the Awesome Auger with the craptastic cordless drill that was supposedly thrown in free, I have made it a personal policy never to buy anything Billy Mays is selling on TV, no matter what it is. Behind all that obnoxious screaming is just another crappy product that isn’t even worth the low, low price on the screen, let alone the S&H.

  11. picardia says:

    To be fair, there are legitimate websites that don’t give you a full total until after you’ve provided your credit card, although those are almost invariably in situations where some kind of discount is being applied and/or shipping charges vary from state to state. So I can see why this did not immediately throw the OP.

  12. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    If the word “awesome” is actually in the product name, I have a feeling it might be hyped up.

  13. tom2133 says:

    So I guess I should be so quick to buy a “ShamWow?”

    The guy that hawks those seems like as big a douche as Billy Mays.

  14. basket548 says:

    @picardia:

    Just out of curiosity, do you have an example of such a site?

  15. Canino says:

    So does this mean the tackle belt that came with my Pocket Fisherman isn’t really worth $52?

  16. smonk says:

    @nytmare…I read the post…maybe because I’m scam savvy I read it as $8.99 shipping for the auger and additional shipping for each individual item…I’d expect them to come in separate boxes at high shipping in order to cover the cost of the product…no free lunch…these folks don’t give you a deal because they have hearts made of gold…

  17. rdm says:

    I thought we weren’t supposed to blame the OP anymore.

  18. timmus says:

    Regarding the telemarketing hassle, I think this is a good example of why it’s a bad idea to give your phone number out to businesses, INCLUDING mail order ones. Remember, once you place an order with a company, your Do Not Call rights no longer apply. Of course most telcos, such as AT&T, are no help as they offer pathetic blocking options, like local blocks only.

    This is why we NEVER give our number out freely, and if we have to (such as with an important mail order item or a credit card) we use only a Grand Central number that allows blocking.

  19. BuddhaLite says:

    This site is the best! You don’t even need valid CC info to submit an order.

  20. techstar25 says:

    Typically when a TV ad mentions additional “FREE” products, or “Get a second one free, when you call in the next 10 minutes”, they usually say “Just pay additional shipping and handling”. This is a common practice.
    As a matter of fact, at the Auger website, it says “Free Bonus Drill (just pay S + P)”, and also it says the same for a couple of other free items (just pay S + P). I would guess that shipping costs on a drill would be pretty significant. Try buying a drill from HomeDepot.com, and check the shipping.
    Do they give you the option to NOT order the additional Free items? That’s the question.

  21. SuffolkHouse says:

    Here’s a great moment when I implore The Consumerist to help channel our anger toward politicians. We deserve much better oversight.

    This is also another great moment when I am ignored.

    Hey, let’s all just identify the problems and not solve them! We know the problems are there, and the cause of the problem, according to The Consumerist, is that we don’t gripe to the CEOs enough. Bull-pucky!

    The cause is that there is little or no retribution for taking big real brown craps on customers.

    Now, let the fascists with their GOP avatars berate me.

  22. NightSteel says:

    One more tip: If they actually do ship this thing to you, refuse the shipment. You do not want to be responsible for any shipping charges.

  23. Julia789 says:

    If there is something “As seen on TV” that you’d really like to try, just wait until it’s sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, Linens N Things, etc. It usually doesn’t take long for things sold on TV to appear in stores.

    By purchasing it in store, you don’t have to pay inflated shipping/handling, be automatically enrolled in some monthly membership/refill scam, have your credit card information stolen, or get on mailing lists. Plus, if you don’t like the item, you can return it to the store in a snap.

  24. Scuba Steve says:

    I once got hit with a 75 dollar fuel surcharge for shipping once.

    Total BS charge.

  25. aerick says:

    well duh!!!. YOu should have waited for it to be sold in stores like target or walmart

  26. aerick says:

    Well Duh!!! YOu should have waited for it to be sold in stores.

  27. shufflemoomin says:

    If you go to a site that requires credit card information to be entered before you get into the site, and then you’re not even sure which site, and you STILL continue and enter the information, then sadly you’re the type of people these scams are aimed at. Anyone else with any shopping savvy wouldn’t have entertained a site that required personal and/or financial information before knowing exactly what they would be paying or even really what the site is. Not saying what this company are doing isn’t scummy and a ripoff, but the victim wasn’t exactly on top of things either.

  28. DJBS77 says:

    @NightSteel:

    Exactly what I was going to say. Refuse the shipment, then follow-up to make sure full refund is applied. Then proceed with a chargeback.

  29. DJBS77 says:

    whoops…got click happy.

    Proceed with a chargeback only if the full amount is not refunded.

  30. @smonk:

    I never bought anything from these commercials but I assumed the S+P was going to be high and I would have asked…I think the buyer is just naive and a charge back is not right.

    The final total and line-item costs were not disclosed to the purchaser, and you’re defending the company? Are you kidding?

    Chargeback. This is borderline fraud.

  31. Starfury says:

    I’ve got a few shopping rules I live by.

    1. Don’t buy stuff when someoene calls you.
    2. Don’t buy stuff at your front door (some exceptions like girl/boy scout stuff)
    3. Don’t buy stuff from TV.

    ONE time my wife ordered some hair removal stuff for her legs and it didn’t work at all. She also bought a knife set at a As Seen on TV store. They worked great for about a week before becoming dull.

    If it’s in an infomercia, 99% of the time it’s overpriced crap.

  32. blue_duck says:

    @tom2133: He looks like he could be Matt Damon’s “special needs” little brother.

  33. digitalgimpus says:

    @picardia: Any examples? IIRC it’s required to present a method to abort the payment before it goes through.

  34. Elvisisdead says:

    You can also refuse delivery, and it will be shipped back to them at their cost. If it’s USPS, just write “refused” on it and take it to the Post Office. Call the CS numbers for FedEx and UPS to have a pickup scheduled if it comes that way.

    It’s how I used to deal with Columbia House and BMG shipping me CDs I didn’t order in the 90s.

  35. dasunst3r says:

    My parents fell for the scam with some infomerical mop kind of thing one or two years ago. It also required us to type in our credit card number to begin the process with absolutely zero disclosure of how much stuff costs. That was when I convinced myself that any infomercial item is a scam and will pick up stuff from more reputable companies (either in-store or online).

  36. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Read the comment code. Let’s keep the partisan political rhetoric to a minimum; calling others ‘fascists’ is not contributing to a civil discussion.

  37. Shadowman615 says:

    I was going to say you should do a chargeback and then you might even be able to get away with keeping the product for some time if they ship it to you anyway.

    But it’s probably a better idea to simply refuse the shipment. Depending on the delivery company, you normally can just tell the driver and not accept the package. If the package is left at your door, you normally can call UPS or fedex to refuse the package and schedule a pickup for it.

  38. Black Bellamy says:

    The same people who would never go into a grocery store and hand over their wallet on the way in seem to have no problem entering credit card information into a site BEFORE they even fill a shopping cart. Sigh.

  39. FijianTribe says:

    Time to list your number on the Do Not Call Registry:
    [www.ftc.gov]

    Also if they dont stop calling you back:

    “…ask the company not to call again. In that case, the company must honor your request not to call. If they subsequently call you again, they may be subject to a fine of up to $11,000.”

  40. bohemian says:

    So many things in his story should have made him stop and think that this might not be a good idea. Lack of disclosure of shipping and handling costs, demanding a credit card as the first step of the process, the fact that it was an infomercial. But on the other hand I do think that state and federal consumer entities are asleep at the job. Someone should be investigating this stuff.

    It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they found a way to do away with Billy Mays either. What if he shouted like that all the time? In nice restaurants, on a date, in bed.

  41. OzoftheJungle says:

    Billy Mays is the antichrist.

  42. mariospants says:

    DAMN but people be gettin’ rich off of scams. It almost seems like doing it by the book doesn’t pay any more.

    $20 for a simple auger seems excessive to begin with. Ordering something like this when you’ve never actually held it in your hands seems like a dumb thing to do.

  43. @Starfury:

    I’ve got a few shopping rules I live by.

    1. Don’t buy stuff when someoene calls you.
    2. Don’t buy stuff at your front door (some exceptions like girl/boy scout stuff)
    3. Don’t buy stuff from TV.

    4. Unless they’re the “Green Bags”! Those things are AWESOME!

  44. Brazell says:

    The Awesome Auger ad has always caught me off guard because Billy Mays is added in later saying, “Just pay shipping and processing,” which he reinforces twice and it always caught my ear. I love Billy Mays and consider him the greatest salesman in the history of the universe, but fully expect all of the products he is paid to endorse are, first, crap, and second, full of scams.

    The first thing to do is to cancel the credit charge… your card has to do it and the company has to comply. It’s a major pain in the ass, but yeah.

    Finally, before ordering anything… ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS reject “free gifts,” or gifts where “all you pay for is shipping and handling.” Shipping is like $8 and then handling is ALWAYS an additional $15 or something.

  45. Brazell says:

    @bohemian: You take that back about Billy Mays. The guy is a true American hero. We should all shout like him.

  46. @MichaelBrazell:

    You take that back about Billy Mays. The guy is a true American hero. We should all shout like him.

    In all his commercials, I keep waiting for Brick Tamland to walk in and say “I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!”

  47. alejo699 says:

    I laugh every time I see this commercial. “Hmm. Let’s put a metal blade on the end of a three-foot pole and then mount it in a hand drill! Yeah, that’ll be great!” Yikes.

  48. drjayphd says:

    @MichaelBrazell: So you wouldn’t buy insurance from him, I take it?

  49. jimmydeweasel says:

    I still want a Sham Wow……..

  50. bumba says:

    “Normally, I wouldn’t buy products from late night tv commercials, but the pedegg worked out for me.” I know, I know, dont blame the op… but come on. If you are buying junk from tv commercials, you get what you deserve.

  51. TACP says:

    I knew something was fishy when I saw this ad for the first time. The “just pay shipping and handling” lines were obviously added in later.

    I also once saw Billy Mays doing a live demo/interview one time and it quickly went wrong. His drill bit fell out of the drill!

  52. desertdust says:

    @basket548:

    leevalley never provides a total for shipping. I have never had a problem with them and they are up front with shipping coming later. They are prompt with an email shortly after the order and list the total shipping. When I included special shipping instructions they called me and went over the order completly.

    Of course they are not an as seen on tv kind of outfit. The site appears to be quite shady. I would not buy from them but there alot of rubes out there. How else would they be making any money. Most that order from them never figure out that they were taken.

  53. craig9937 says:

    Just as a fyi, you may want to check into the FCC regulations with the telemarketing company calling your cell phone. If they start the call with an automated message I know it’s definitely illegal and you can report them.

    Check out: [esupport.fcc.gov]
    for more information.

  54. ChuckECheese says:

    @Starfury: Hair remover + a knife = fail? Wow your wife has some tough leg-hair!
    @InfiniTrent: If you yell it loud, it makes it true.

  55. Retail_Slave says:

    I’m sorry people who order stuff off the T.V. get what they deserve. If they could wait, they would see the same product a month or two at Walgreens, Wal-Mart or Target. Target has the Awesome Auger. These places have a “As Seen On TV Section.”

  56. bunch.of.wackos says:

    800notes.com is blocked by my anti-spyware program…. that tells you something!!.

    this seems like a very complicated/extended scam, even if you get a
    charge back your CC information is already compromised… IF i were the
    OP; I would cancell my CC, monitor my cell phone bill, and be obesively
    checking my credit report.

  57. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    @tom2133: Sham-wow is crappy. I ordered them b/c my kid is a swimmer and everything gets soaked at these epic long swim meets.

    The product is scratchy and never gets smooth. No swimmer would ever towel off with it. I used it to line the bottom of some bags and it does a fair job at that.

    We ended up spending more money than we did with the Sham-Wow but just went down to Dick’s sporting goods and got more swimmers wicking towels.