The Better Business Bureau is expressing concerns with how a Maryland company is advertising its essential oils. On their website, Serenity Garden Oils posts claims such as “imagine never getting sick again” and “#1 immunity booster” when describing their products.
Consumers signed up wanting to believe what they read about the company's products but what they didn't thoroughly read was the fine print.
“They signed up for what they thought was a free trial, 14-day risk-free trial, and what actually occurred was recurring charges on their credit or debit card,” said Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the BBB serving greater Maryland.
Barnett said the BBB has received multiple consumer complaints on Serenity Garden Oils’ billing practices.
“The recurring charges exceed, in many cases, $69.95 and went up as much as $200 in one complaint,” Barnett said.
Even though the words "trial" and "risk-free" are shown on their site, the fine print states that consumers are signing up for a nearly $80 charge if users don't call and cancel within 14 days of ordering the trial.
The company refunded the customers who submitted complaints, but the BBB wants the terms to be more prominent and they have additional concerns.
“This is a Maryland-based business that promotes and advertises essential oils for the purpose of health benefits,” said Barnett.
Benefits like powerful immune support or never getting sick. But again, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom fine print, they disclose that their statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We actually approached them about their advertisements asking them to substantiate their claims or to remove this from their website, the business never responded to those advertising concerns,” said Barnett.
ABC2’s Mallory Sofastaii called and emailed the company but did not immediately hear back. ABC2 also visited the online retailer’s Baltimore address on their site and in business filings. No one answered.
The BBB also wants to remind everyone that you should never be required to put in credit card information for a free trial, even if it's just for shipping and handling.
The Federal Trade Commission has laws about specific marketing practices. They prohibit unfair or deceptive advertising. For more information on their rules and regulations, click here.