Contact 2: Fake celebrity endorsement, free trial offer misleads consumer

Contact 2

Cheryl Webb

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ST. LOUIS – Chip and Joanna Gaines rose to stardom with their HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” Its success spurred their Waco, Texas-based Magnolia brand and an online store where you can shop for everything from baskets to blooms and books.

“They just seem like a normal, everyday couple,” said Cheryl Webb, a Bourbon, Missouri resident.

Webb said she was intrigued by an online facial cream advertisement featuring Chip and Jo.

“You can pay the postage; get the sample to try it. I thought, ‘Well, that sounds good,’” she said.

For $11, Webb believed she’d get to try a moisturizer and wrinkle reducer. The creams arrived, along with a nearly $200 surprise in her bank account.

“They got me in and interested but then they cheated and took money that wasn’t theirs. They would never refund the money,” Webb said.

This is a good time to mention that Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t at all affiliated with these products. In fact, Joanna Gaines posted warnings on Instagram and the Magnolia website to alert consumers.

“The FTC has started taking action against a lot of these companies that aren’t disclosing the fact that they’re signing consumers up for membership programs with their free trials,” said Ezra Coopersmith, an investigator with the Better Business Bureau.

According to the BBB, doing a little research can go a long way.

“If you do see a well-known celebrity endorsing the product, do a quick Google search to see if they are, in fact, endorsing that product,” Coopersmith said.

To make matters worse, it seems one of the creams Webb bought didn’t even include the advertised ingredients.

“I didn’t see any on the list of that particular formulation that really were specific to anti-aging,” said dermatologist Annelise Dawson.

If you’re serious about skincare, Dawson said to start with the professionals.

“I think it’s really important to get information from somebody who really has true training in skin,” she said.

It’s an important lesson learned for Cheryl Webb.

“To treat people like that and then to use Chip and Joanna on top of that just so they can cheat people. That’s what they’re doing. They just took my money,” she said.

The good news is, Webb got her money back. Her buyer beware story serves as another important reminder to carefully read the terms and conditions on any product or service you’re buying.

If you aren’t sure whether a product or offer is legitimate, you can always call Contact 2.

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