Advanced Wellness Research, Inc., a company allegedly offering free trials for its products, including Acai berry supplements and whitening toothpaste, faces a lawsuit in Florida. That state's attorney general filed the action, claiming the company failed to mention that customers would be charged approximately $80 on a monthly basis for products they did not intend to purchase.
Attorney General Bill McCollum says his Economic Crimes Division began investigating the companies after receiving over 700 complaints about the companies. According to the complaints, consumers who tried to cancel the continuation program were unable to contact the company from which the products were purchased.
ConsumerAffairs.com has received about 100 complaints from consumers all over the company, complaining about Advanced Wellness Research practices.
"Free offers are not free offers from these people," Sharon, of Ridgecrest, Calif., told ConsumerAffairs.com. "I ordered Vital Rezv which I thought was grape seed supplement and a wrinkle reducer. Never used any of their products because after calling to cancal, I knew this was a scam."
Investigators also believe that Advanced Wellness company president Nicolas Molina and vice president Michael Trimarco became aware of the investigation and sold their business to Kelly OShea, a former Advanced Wellness employee. OShea created a new entity, Netalab Corp., and allegedly continued the same unfair and deceptive trade practices initially begun by Advanced Wellness. The complaints, in fact, have kept on coming.
"I stupidly ordered a free trial of Dermacai Anti Wrinkle Serum for the cost of shipping $4.99," June, of Sacramento, Calif., told ConsumerAffairs.com. "I recieved another bottle in the mail and when I received my credit card bill I had been billed $85.49. I called the number and was told that since I had not called to cancel with in two weeks I would have to pay. No where did I ever see anything about two weeks notice or even the cost of this product."
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief against the defendants, prohibiting further business activities which violate Floridas Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, as well as restitution on behalf of all victimized consumers, civil penalties of $10,000 for each violation, and reimbursement for fees and costs related to the investigation.
In August, Advanced Wellness Research was one of 40 companies sued by talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who charged the companies were using her name and likeness to promote their acai berry supplements. In addition, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued Advanced Wellness over their business practices.