The Missouri Attorney General's Office has reached an agreement with two companies that sell health-related products through TV infomercials featuring Kevin Trudeau.
Under the agreement, Missouri consumer will receive almost $1,100 in refunds. The companies also agreed to change their business practices.
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon reached the agreement on Wednesday with Natural Cures, which also uses the name ITV Global Inc. The settlement resolves complaints that the companies repeatedly charged consumers for products they did not order.
Natural Cures uses infomercials to sell books that claim to promote healthy lifestyles.
But many consumers who purchased the books said they also received a subscription for a newsletter they did not order. Consumers then received repeated bills for that newsletter.
ConsumerAffairs.com has received scores of similar complaints.
"I ordered a book from Kevin Trudeau (Weight Loss Cures)," wrote John C. of Indianapolis, Indiana. "They tried to sell me several other items while we were on the phone, but I told them I just wanted the book. This was in March of 2007."
John said ITV Global then charged his credit card $5.95 a month for the next several months.
"When I called them, they said this was for a newsletter," John told us. "I told them I did not order this and wanted the charges removed. Without even researching to see if I ordered this, they refused to credit all my money back.
"I did not order this product, nor did I receive a newsletter. The billing practices used by this company should be criminal," John said.
Some consumers are being charged even more for the newsletter.
"In July 2007 I ordered 3 books from a TV commerical," said Chuck of Franklin, NC. "When I placed my order I was persuaded to receive a monthly newsletter at $9.95 per month with the provision that I could cancel at any time.
"Before the 30 days was up, I called numerous times trying to reach someone to cancel the newsletter. Finally, I reached someone who stated that it would be canceled. I also sent an email on August 15, 2007, which I have a copy of, to cancel the newsletter," he said. "I did receive one newsletter but I have not received any more since I canceled it in August 2007, however the Company keeps billing my bank each and every month."
ConsumerAffairs.com also received complaints that Natural Cures refused to refund consumers' money even after they returned the weight loss book.
"I sent the books back after speaking with a customer service representative, who assured me that I would receive a full refund," wrote Jean R. of Lemon Grove, California. "I have never been given a refund."
Instead, the company continues racking up charges on her credit card.
"I cannot stop this monster from trying to get more and more money from me," Jean said. "I have been charged over limit fees. This and all the other fees charged to my credit card have wrecked my credit. It is absolutely ridiculous that this man can continue to destroy so many lives with no penalties."
Legal action may be the only way to stop these outrageous business practices, Jean said.
"I think there is more than substantial evidence that this is a consumer scam and the public should be protected and compensated for these actions by Trudeau."
Consumers in the Show-Me State -- at least -- should be protected from such unscrupulous tactics.
Under the settlement Missouri officials reached this week, Natural Cures agreed to stop:
• Charging consumers for items they did not request;
• Billing consumers' bank or credit cards for unauthorized products;
• Charging consumers more than the amounts advertised;
• Delaying delivery of consumers' products.