The BBB is warning consumers about scams attached to the popular, yummy acai berry. Online ads claiming endorsements by Oprah and Rachel Ray are pitching acai-berry-themed weight loss products — and are generating thousands of complaints from angry consumers who say they’ve been scammed.
It starts out, as so many things do, as a free trial offer — but when you try to cancel — you may find yourself locked in to the automatic delivery of more acai than you ever wanted.
“BBB can’t speak to the restorative or weight loss properties of acai-based products, but we are taking companies to task for their misleading sales and marketing practices,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. “Many businesses across the country are using the same selling model for their acai products: they lure customers in with celebrity endorsements and free trial offers, and then lock them in by making it extremely difficult to cancel the automatic delivery of more acai products every month.”
The BBB lists two companies that sell acai products on this business model:
FX Supplements: ” The company offers a risk-free trial of their products for the cost of shipping and handling. However, if consumers do not cancel within the trial period they are sent additional bottles every month and are billed $85.90. Complaints show that the trial period fluctuates between 10 and 14 days from when the consumer requested the free trial—not from when they received the product.”
Central Coast Nutraceuticals: “In the last 12 months, the BBB serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona has received more than 1,400 complaints for a company called Central Coast Nutraceuticals which operates several Web sites selling acai, hoodia and male enhancement products. The company uses Oprah-endorsements of the acai berry in ads touting its weight-loss benefits and offers a free trial of acai-related products including supplements and tea. Due to the company’s negative option, if, after the free-trial, the consumer no longer wishes to receive a monthly supply they must cancel their subscription or they will be billed $40 monthly.
The complaints against the company all tell a similar tale of how difficult it was to contact the company and cancel the subscription — including enduring 75 minutes on hold. Additionally, consumers complain of unauthorized charges on their credit card or bank accounts for products they did not order. Central Cost Nutraceuticals has earned an F grade from BBB for a large volume of unanswered and unresolved complaints.”
If you’re looking for fruit with lots of antioxidants, why not just go to the grocery store? There are plenty of fruit juice drinks with acai in them — and let’s face it. Apples may not be some exotic miracle fruit — but they have plenty of antioxidants and are cheap!