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Avoiding acai berry scams

Feb 09

It’s unfortunate to have witnessed the flurry of questionable acai berry products that have come to market recently. When this website was first launched there was a half dozen companies selling acai berry extracts and other products that included the acai berry amongst other ingredients. Over the past 2 years the market has been flooded with hundreds of acai berry products that claim to help with weight loss, protect from illnesses, etc etc. While the benefits of antioxidants are numerous, the majority of acai berry products you find online today have no science supporting their claims.

Considering the majority of comments I receive on this website are from people complaining about unexpected charges being applied to their credits cards, I figured it would be a good idea to cover just the basics of what to watch out for to avoid being the victim of the latest acai berry scam.

  1. Check with the BBB. Those who have already purchased a product or started a ‘free trial’ are likely to visit the Better Business Bureau website to post their complaints.
  2. Take the product name, add the word “scam” to it, and perform a Google search. Chances are if the company uses questionable tactics, there will be hundreds of websites warning against the scam.
  3. Better judgment – many of the acai berry scam websites use pressure tactics to lure you into a quick decision – pay no attention to countdown timers or pop-up messages that say there are benefits to buying now as opposed to tomorrow. Make sure you read the fine print carefully. One of the easiest ways to save yourself some drama is to look for a contact number, sitting on hold for a long time or being forwarded to a call center that has to ask you which product you’re inquiring about is a bad sign.
  4. Visit your local health food store – products are often cheaper online than in a health store, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take note of some brands your local health store carries. These stores generally do their due diligence when selecting products to carry. It’s just one more filtration system you can use to save yourself the hassle of sifting through hundreds of acai berry products that all claim to do similar things.

Every time I login to this blog I approve more comments from people that have become victims of acai berry scams, which is really unfortunate as I believe the health benefits of the acai berry in a proper extract or quality product can be very real. The age old adage holds true, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Acai bery scams from a new perspective

Mar 30

I have received a number of Emails from visitors to acairesource.com that clicked on Google Ads that brought them to a website promoting acai berry weight loss products. Many of these programs offer a trial at a very cheap price, often just charging for shipping for the first bottle. However, after the trial period ends, if you don’t get in touch with the company, they will start billing your credit card automatically. The problem I have with these sites is that they bury the information about automatic credit card charges deep within the site and, more often than not, don’t answer their phones or emails. I’ve seen automatic charges range from $40 to $90, and there seems to be hundreds of websites promoting similar products with similar payment schemes. I’ve looked into blocking these types of sites from acairesource.com Google Ads, but there seems to be new sites every day.

Now, it sounds as if the FTC is cracking down on a number of these websites, which has sparked some controversy. From my perspective, I don’t support these “scams”. These sites often use celebrity figures, Oprah is common, and use false testimonials about the performance of the acai berry supplement. Any company that hides the true cost of their product and makes false claims about their product I consider a scam, simple as that. BUT, there are a number of Internet marketers making a killing from selling these products, and they’re screaming “accountability falls on the consumer”.

There’s a great conversation going on over at Shoemoney’s Blog talking about whether the FTC should be stepping in or whether it’s up to the consumer to make a smart decision. Keep in mind, Shoemoney is an affliate marketer himself, and many members of his audience are as well. Shoemoney’s thoughts lean towards placing the accoutability with the consumer, stating:

DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU CAN LOOSE 50 LBS IN A MONTH FROM DRINKING BERRY JUICE AND WASHING OUT YOUR COLON YOU FRICKIN RETARD.

Now I respect Shoemoney and follow his blog fairly closely. He’s good at what he does and has helped countless affiliate marketers make a better living. But I disagree with him on this point. If you can’t reach a company to cancel your acai berry trial by the methods provided on their website, you simply can’t hold the consumer accountable. None the less, every acai berry scam website that has been reporting to me has, somewhere, reported their true monthly costs and that the customer will be billed automatically after a certain period of time. This information doesn’t always exist where you might expect. Sometimes it’s in the terms of service, sometimes it’s in FAQ sections. In fact, one time I saw it in a FAQ page under “What do I do if I want to continue the trial?” – since the acai berry has no scientific proof of helping with weight loss, obviously the majority of consumer’s aren’t going to want to continue their trial, and won’t click on such a link. However, this was the only place on the entire website that advertised the true cost.

Again, there’s no shortage of acai berry scams, and covering each and every one of them would become a full time job. I’ve written about a few acai berry scams here, but make sure you dig deep when making online purchases.

VitalAcai – yet another sneaky scam

Feb 11

Back on February 6 I wrote a post about AcaiAlive, a website using various tools to convince you to try their “free trial” that was an autoship program in disguise. There’s no shortage of these types of offers, but the way I stumbled across VitalAcai today takes the “misleading” score to a new level.

A website by the name of AcaiBerryMD released a press release on PRWeb stating that:

…features the latest news, facts and nutritional updates about acai berries. Contains free reports and relevant, updated information about the acai plant and the acai berry fruit to help the general public better understand the nutritional benefits of acai berries.

Okay, so I’ve never heard of the acai palm tree described as a plant, but none the less I was excited to peruse the website, it seemed I might find some wortwhile information. With a name like Acai Berry MD I haphazardly presumed I could trust the website. However, on the website I quickly find a “Try Acai berry Free! (While supplies last)” link, which links to VitalAcai. VitalAcai fits the exact mold AcaiAlive uses…right down to the limited discount on shipping and the subtle page explaining the $85.84 dollar charge that will be incurred on your credit card if you don’t cancel your trial in time.

Lesson? Even with an official looking press release and a seemingly reputable source supporting the product, what you see isn’t always what you get.

Acai Alive – A Sneaky Scam…

Feb 06

I’m not going to link to this website because I don’t support the way they operate. I’ve seen a number of these sites on the internet. They follow almost the exact same mold, but this website took things one step further. That one step was enough inspiration for me to write a post clarifying exactly what this company is up to.

Acai Alive TimerFirstly, I notice this piece of the website. The green part flashes saying “FREE TRIAL, supplies limited”. Yeah I doubt that. Then below that, above the form asking for all of your information, there’s a countdown clock saying that if you don’t act within 5 minutes you miss your opportunity for an EXTRA discount on shipping. If you refresh the website, the timer will start back up at 5 minutes…I guess it’s not a very time sensitive offer after all.

Acai Alive Popup WindowBy this time, I’m ready to close the site because I’ve seen all the tell-tale sings of a scam. Upon closing the browser or visiting a new website, you’re prompted with this message. Are you sure you want to leave this website? To receive your last minute discount just click OK and we’ll give it to you.

Then, IF you happen to choose “OK”, you’re brought into a live chat session that looks like the below:Acai Alive Chat Window

Needless to say, there isn’t actually a live chat representative on the other end. Just a script that times the delivery of the preset message. “To get your risk free trial click here”. By this time I had been inconvenienced enough that I decided to make this site the subject of my next Acai Resource post. I’ve written about similar scams in the past, like Extreme Acai Berry and FX Supplements, and typically some fine print hunting will show that, if you don’t cancel your free trial within “X” number of days, your credit card will be billed with “X” number of dollars. I’ve seen that dollar amount as high as $79 monthly.

Well Acai Alive again presented a challenge. In the past it was easy to find what the real monthly charges would be by looking at the Terms and Conditions page on these types of sites. After searching that page, I had come up empty. It wasn’t until I read the FAQ page that I found my answer, but it was done in a very sneaky way. Under the question, “What should I do if I want to keep my Acai Alive Dietary Supplements that I’m evaluating during the trial period” the answer was posted, ” Nothing. Simply keep it and enjoy. We will automatically bill your credit card for the product. Make sure you read and understand How The Offer Works Acai Berry Oprah & Celebritiesand the return policy.” Okay, so you visit this buried How The Offer Works page and you finally learn that they will charge you $39.99 automatically as soon as your trial ends. What bothers me about this, is the REAL terms and conditions of the agreement are hidden within a FAQ page where the question itself is directed at people who want to continue using the product. No where on the homepage does it state how long the trial lasts, how are you supposed to know how or when to cancel?

Finally, the icing on the cake, they make it look as if their product is endorsed by celebrities. Oprah has had to state on her website that she is not associated with acai berry products precisely because of these types of scams using her image on their websites.

It’s really too bad this has become such a common scam, it really is tarnishing the beneficial qualities the acai berry really has, nevermind the reputation of the celebrities these programs use to their advantage.

Please contact me if you come across similar websites – I really enjoy calling each and every one of them out!

RezV Elite – a familiar scheme

May 26

RezV Elite is a supplement containing the acai berry and resveratrol, a substance found in red wine that is currently undergoing a wide variety of studies. Some of these studies find that mice subjected to resveratrol live longer, other studies show signs of resveratrol preventing prostate cancer. But I’m here to write about this particular RezV Elite product, not resveratrol in general. Learn more about resveratrol and acai berries here.

Upon visiting RezV Elite’s website I instantly noticed some familiar design styles that I’ve noticed on other acai berry scam websites which I’ve written about in the past. Identical color schemes, and even some of the same buttons. They all use similar claims, they promote a free trial where you only pay for shipping. What they don’t advertise very clearly is the fact that if you don’t cancel within 14 days, you will be charged a more significant amount for that trial bottle + every month thereafter. In ResV Elite’s case, that amount is $79.95. Of course, you have to look through their terms and conditions, found through a small link at the bottom of their website to learn the true cost.

Now, I have no issue with free trial offers, however, I have received numerous emails through this website from people who have tried similar free trial offers, and when they attempt to cancel, no one picks up the phone on the other end. I’m not saying RezV Elite is the same as these other companies, but judging by the look of the website and the structure of the offer, it’s just so similar I would expect it’s run by the same group or company.

If you followed the previous link, you will see that there’s no shortage of these types of scams out there. In fact, they pop up so quickly I simply can’t keep up. I’ve received complaints about Dr. Acai Skin Care where the trial never even showed up, but the credit card was billed. I’ve received complaints about Acai Alive, Vital Acai…the list goes on. The problem is a lot of people are earning an income from promoting these types of products. Feel free to peruse this article about how affiliate marketers are benefiting from promoting these scams.

All in all, be careful, read the fine print, and the old cliche lives on – if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.