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Skin Balance Advanced Anti-Wrinkle Cream – Free Trial is Not Free

Skin Balance Advanced Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Surprise, surprise! The FREE offer – for Skin Balance Advanced Anti-Wrinkle Cream –  that I signed up for on Facebook is not FREE. It was more than NOT free. It cost me almost $400.

The doorbell rang. My parcel was here. Wow!!! I was going to be forever young now that my free samples of Skin Balance Anti-Aging Cream had arrived.

Was I ever surprised

I was actually surprised because the samples were full-size products.

I was also surprised when my credit card statement arrived a few weeks later, with four small charges from a website in Ireland. So I called my Credit Card Company (CCC) to question the unusual charges. While I checking my transactions, I also learned that I had additional unknown charges for $398. I was more than surprised!

When I finally reached a real person at the CCC, he was extremely helpful. He explained that the small charges were the postage for products that I had ordered on-line. “Ah yes, I remember now –postage for my FREE anti-wrinkle creams” I said with a sigh of relief.

“But where did the other $398 come from?” I queried. Fortunately I had placed this transaction on a rarely used credit card so it stood out.

“Those are from the same websites,” he explained.

“But why? I never ordered anything else” was my response.

The Credit Card company was very helpful

More surprises! The customer service representative at the fraud center then started asking me questions:

  • CCC: Was there a Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) document presented as part of the transaction?
  • ME: Yes, I believe so.
  • CCC: Did you read the T&Cs?
  • ME: I thought I did. At least I skimmed them.
  • Q: Did you notice a clause that said if you did not cancel in 10 days that you would be billed (*monthly) for the products? (*I think he said that it might be monthly)
  • ME: No, I do not remember seeing that in the Terms.
  • CCC: Well this is the way they operate. When you click “I agree” to the T&Cs, you are signing a contract with them. You must call and cancel your contract within 10 days or they can charge your CC. And the ten days have passed so they have charged you almost $200 for each of your FREE samples.
  • ME: Wow my wrinkles just became very expensive.
  • CCC: I will give you the website URLs, the email addresses and the phone numbers for the two websites. You can call and ask them to reverse the charges. Since you are past the ten days, they can say “NO”. But it is best to try. I cannot help you further as it was a legal transaction once you clicked AGREE to their TERMS.
  • ME: I will call immediately. Thank you for your help.
  • CCC: Call us back when you have a resolution and a confirmation-number for the transaction. Then we will watch the account and request the refund – if it isn’t processed immediately.

Read everything very carefully before clicking “accept”

I had been naïve and even a little bit “stupid” when I saw the as pop-up on Facebook!!! I remember glancing over the T&Cs so quickly that I know that I missed the valuable information about the 10 days and additional charges. We are so used to seeing T&Cs on every website that we only give them a quick glance instead of reading all the terms. We think they only say that “we won’t do anything for you, and we are not liable for anything, and you use this product at your own risk.” Unless we’ve been scammed before, we don’t expect them to also say that we just signed our credit card information over to them so they could continue to charge us exorbitant amounts for “free samples”.

I got right on the case and was stubborn

Well. I don’t give up easily. I called the number that I was given. I was told by the call center that they would cancel my “membership” but that they could NOT refund my money. I told them I was happy to return the FREE sample, which remained unopened. They said they could NOT accept returns. I whined and told them that it was “unfair” because I had NOT understood the terms. They finally agreed to refund 50%. They gave me the required status confirmation number which I promptly reported to the Credit Card Company to initiate my claim for my money back.

But, I definitely don’t give up easily. So I called back. I complained that they were running a SCAM, catching innocent users with unreasonable terms and outrageous fees hidden in the contract. After a lot of more whining about unfair business practices (because they didn’t mail me n invoice or the T&Cs with my product), the representative agreed to try to get me a full refund. And I obtained the second status confirmation number which I also reported back to the Credit Card Company. A few weeks later my CC statement had a FULL refund.

Moral of the story: Fight back!

My advice: Never accept any FREE offers on the Internet. Nothing is ever FREE.

Take Action

However, if this should ever happen to you, take these steps:

  1. Contact your Credit Card Company immediately.
    1. Ask for their advice on how to handle it.
    2. Follow their instructions very carefully.
    3. While on the phone, cancel the credit card to ensure no future funds can be taken.
  2. Contact the seller organization – preferably by phone. If phone isn’t possible, then communicate by email explaining what action you desire to resolve the issue. Your Credit Card Company should be able to give you the contact details for the seller. (The CCC is sending the money to the seller – so they will definitely have some sort of Contact information, even if they say they don’t.)
  3. The Credit Card Company will require some sort of proof that you have contacted the seller. So, make sure that you get a status confirmation number from them, and if possible the name of the representative. Also ask for that information – and how they are resolving the issue (e.g. return, partial refund, full refund, cancellation of contract, etc.) – to be sent to you in writing, by email or mail. That way you have “proof” of their promise, just in case it does not happen.
  4. Follow-up with your Credit Card Company and let them know how it will be resolved. Also,ask for your phone call to be noted in their records.

The most important thing to remember is that although you have made a “mistake” – agreeing to T&Cs that you didn’t understand (and that you do not have a COPY of) – there is still a possibility of getting a satisfactory outcome. Perhaps if enough of us take action and complain about scams like this, it will become unprofitable for them to continue. Remember they stay in operation because they make money preying off the “innocent”.

The purpose of this blog is to help inform unsuspecting on-line shoppers and make us all less naïve. This was my first time falling for this type of scam. However, it will be the last time that I will ever fall for a “FREE SAMPLE” offer.


For more information about these scams, you might want to watch this excellent video of investigative reporting done by CBC Marketplace: Free Trial Scams: Don’t click that link!
Be forewarned it is not a pleasant story, especially if you have been scammed. There are apparently hundreds of these companies taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers like myself and the women who have shared their stories in the comments below…
The best way for us to STOP them –  is as CBC says – “Don’t click that link!” – after all nothing is ever really FREE, especially on the internet. I know that I learned my lesson and will NEVER do it again.

 Please note:

  1. First of all Karma Kreatives has nothing to do with the skin cream companies in these blogs. I was SCAMMED too – just like YOU were.
  2. And as an on-line seller, I want everyone to know that there are many ways that you can fight the battle if you are not satisfied with an internet purchase. The first is to contact the seller and ask for resolution.Another way is to contact your CCC and ask them for their help in resolving the problem. And don’t forget to cancel your credit card in the process, and get a new one.

Here at Karma Kreatives, we hope that your on-line shopping experience will always be a highly satisfactory one.

You can read more about this scams on this blog: Advanced Skin Anti-Wrinkle Serum – Free Trial is Not FreeSave

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45 thoughts on “Skin Balance Advanced Anti-Wrinkle Cream – Free Trial is Not Free

  1. Hi! do you have the email address of Advanced Skin anti wrinkle serum, do you have a phone # for them as well. I to got taken. Please and Thank you Phyllis

    1. If anyone else has the problem here is the information that I have on these companies:

      The names that appeared on my credit card statement for the initial shipping charges were two companies located in Ireland: and

      However when I spoke with the Fraud Department of my CC company, they gave me the following for the two companies:

      Advanced Skin

      Skin Balance

      I chose to contact the two companies by phone. Both companies are related because when I called the second one they already knew that I had called the first company to cancel.

      1. HI judi…i have also been scammed……i just got off the phone with the fraud dept and the skin care co and was unable to rec a refund ….i did cancel the account……..then i read your comments and called the tel # you listed…however no luck…..i cannot believe this has happened to me……..any suggestions……this is a hard lesson learned here!!!!!!

        1. Hi Robin,
          Thanks for sharing your story. You did the right thing by cancelling the credit card. However to get a refund you really need to contact the company that shipped the cream to you.
          The phone numbers on this site were the ones given to me by MY credit card company – for the company that shipped MY product. The problem is that there are hundreds of these companies and they often fold and start up again under different names, websites and phone numbers once the customers are “on to them”.
          So in order to contact them you need to call your credit card company and ask them for the contact details. They should have all the information and indeed should have an obligation to share it with you in order to resolve the issue. After all they let this fraudulent transaction be processed. And if the cream company doesn’t want to refund your money ask for the manager and keep calling back. They’ve taken your $400 so you shouldn’t feel any guilt about annoying them and at least wasting $400 of their time in return.
          I wish you luck and good karma in getting a refund, Judi B

          1. merci madame je suis rendue à 800 dollars et je capote!!! merde de merde c`est la première et dernière fois que je commande quelque
            chose sur le web!!!Grrrrr

      2. WHAT A SCAM!!!these people are still in business i was just charged my second charge yesterday when i noticed it!!!i am on the phone right now and their customer service will NOT refund any of my money

        1. Barbara, I am sorry that you are unable to get a refund. Make sure that you cancel your credit card so they cannot continue to take the funds from your account.
          Thanks for sharing your story. Perhaps some day the credit card companies will stop the scammers but it is unlikely. the important lesson to all of us is that there is no such thing as “free” products on the internet – someone just wants to take advantage of us once they have our credit card information. It’s a sad world out there. Good luck in getting your case closed.

        2. Barbara, I just called them back for a third time and threatened to go to the police to report them. After being put on hold, “Sarah” came back and told me they would refund the last charge (I was charged for two shipments as well in less then 30 days). Call back and tell them you’ve been researching their company and business practices online and have seen all the negative posts and are ready to go to the police!!!!!!!!

          1. Thanks for sharing your experience and advice

    2. Me too! I believe if they had nothing to hide, the would send a paper document with your product which outlined the 10 days….. who uses something for only 10 days and know if it works. This is outrageous and I won’t stand for it.

  2. I was charged from Skin Balance and Anti-Wrinkle Serum for $367.07. One for $187.64 and another one for $179.43.
    After I noticed some strange activity on my bank account I contacted my bank company immediately.
    They advised me to call the merchandise company, ask them to cancel the transaction and say ‘No’ to any discounts that they offer. I called them and followed the advice, but they said they can’t give me a refund because it’s a final sale and I agreed to the T&Cs. before I paid. Then I called my bank company again they said they will send a new credit card to me and will follow up my case, but don’t know how long it’s gonna take time.

    1. I am sorry to hear that it happened to you also.
      I would suggest that you contact them multiple times. I think it is easy fro them to say “no” the first time and tell you that their “hands are tied”. My suggestion is that you keep calling and ask for their supervisor. I also suggest that you tell them that they never provided a copy of the T&Cs with the product or on their website, so you are having trouble “confirming” the details of the contract.
      Hopefully your credit card company will also follow-up and get the refund for you.
      Good luck.

  3. This just happened to me.
    I just finished blasting these people.
    No refund. Will stop my “contract”.

    I am beyond furious.

    1. I am really sorry to hear about your situation. I know how you feel.
      Please see my replies to previous comments, and perhaps some of my suggestions could help you.
      Definitely call again to confirm that the contract is cancelled. And while you have them on the phone, tray again for a “refund”. And when they say they are not allowed to provide you with a refund, ask to speak with their manager or supervisor. Keep them on the line as long as possible and they may give in.
      Also see my previous responses about the lack of transparency with the T&Cs – they are not published nor provided to you.

  4. hELP ME how do I stop getting this shit and stop them taking my money. I just got more cream. Please help

    1. You must call the company and CANCEL your contract as you have NOT agreed just to a “free trial” but you have “agreed” to purchase the products until you have cancelled. That means they have the right to charge your credit card approximately $400 every month.
      In the comments on this blog, I have provided the contact details for the company that I was dealing with. You can try those numbers. Or you can look on your credit card statement for the company’s website and find the contact details on their site.
      I also suggest you contact your credit card company and CANCEL your card. I realize this is a real “pain” but it will stop the charges. Your credit card company should also be able to give you a phone number for the company that has billed you. Most credit card companies already know about these scams and can be very helpful with advice and actions that you can take.
      You may be able to get a partial or complete refund by “arguing” with them that the Terms and Conditions are not visible or not clear and also that they are not following good business practices (no T&Cs in the box, no “contract” in the box, no invoice or contact details in the box) and that you will lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
      Hope this helps you. Please let us know if you succeed in stopping them. (See my previous comments/responses to others also.)

  5. Unfortunately this is not a single company but there are hundreds of companies carrying on this unfortunate scam which robs us of hundreds of dollars.
    For more information about these scams, you might want to watch this excellent video of investigative reporting done by CBC Marketplace: Free Trial Scams: Don’t click that link!
    The best way for us to stop them is as CBC says – “Don’t click that link!” – after all nothing is ever really FREE – especially on the internet or facebook. They not only want our data but they are taking our money too.

    1. See also the related articles such as this one on next steps when you have been scammed

  6. Hi Ladies, this just happened to me as well and I don’t look at my bank statements all the time and they had charged me 3 months so well over $1100. Not very impressed. I did what the bank told me to do and getting refunded the entire amount. WOW, will never agree to anything like that online again.

    1. Thanks for sharing the great news that you were able to resolve the issue by working with your bank to get a refund for this face cream scam for a three-month period. It offers HOPE to other women that they can also resolve this thievery. This scam not only taught me to never accept another free offer on the internet, but also to check my credit card and bank statements more frequently for unidentifiable charges. I simply wish there was a way for the banks and credit card companies to help us stop the scammers faster – – – before so many of us get caught by surprise.

    2. HI
      i HAVE BEEN SCAMMED TOO BUT HAVE HAD A VERY LENGTHY converation with both employer and supervisor they wont give me a refund how did you get one

      1. Hi Karen,
        I am really sorry to hear that you have been scammed also. My heart breaks every time I hear that this happens. It’s just not fair!
        I suggest that you do as Diane did and contact your bank and/or credit card company and ask them how they can help. They do know these are “scams” and they should have some helpful hints. Definitely cancel the CC.
        I suggest that you also do what I did in the situation and that is to keep calling back. They do not want either the harassment, hassle or exposure. Keep in mind that these are call centres and each time you phone you will get new people. Be prepared to keep them on the line and keep arguing until they give in or disconnect you. If they stop the call, then call back. Tell them that you want an address to send the cream back, that they are using bad business practices because the invoice and T&Cs were not provided in the parcel, that you will call the Better Business Bureau, that they are stealing your money – any arguments that you can think of.
        Make sure that you get a reference number for the refund. Tell them that your CC agent is requesting this.
        Good luck, Judi B

        1. Hi thank you sadly i did call back but got the guy ED….requested an email confirming the date of my cancellation but he said they cant do it he would have to contact the back office to get them to send one and it would take three days…what a joke..Im like a dog with a bone so yes I plan on giving them hell..why cant our banks or government do something? I have lodged a complaint with deptartment of fair trading and my bank is also disputing the charges this is soooooo illegal

  7. What is the phone number of the company to call from Australia please

    1. Sorry that I am unable to provide direct numbers for the companies as I only have the contact information that I received from my credit card company at the time of the transaction. As I learned then, and confirmed since, there are hundreds of companies that use this scam. So the best course of action is to contact your credit card company and bank and ask for their assistance – both by providing the contact details and in cancelling the card and stopping any future transactions. I hope that you were able to get a refund that way.

      I have provided contact details and more details on actions to be taken on my other blog about the Advanced Skin Anti-Wrinkle Serum – Free Trial is not FREE. However all I had was 1-800 numbers which likely do not work in Australia. Sorry that I could not be of more assistance to you.

      1. I can’t believe I been scammed went to the bank this morning on my way to work and 190.00 was taken from my account ,I was so upset I need this money for meds for my husband who has cancer . When I phoned them , they said there was no record of me , I told her their name was on that transaction . Now what? I guess I’ll go to the bank after work to see what I can do. I didn’t even order anything so I don’t understand. I’m so upset.

        1. Lori, so sorry that you have been scammed.
          I suggest you call back and share your story and tell them they are taking money illegally that you need for meds. Make sure you ask for a “manager” when you call. Tell them you are reporting them as a fraud as they have not supplied the terms and conditions in WRITING. Don’t give up.
          Also speak with the fraud department at your bank. They have an obligation to protect you from scams and frauds.
          You can read more about this issue on the other blog about Advanced Skin Cream fraud.
          Good luck. And thank you for sharing your story to help others.

      2. Hi. I have been in contact with my bank in Australia, after being scammed $400 for a “Skin Finesse Cream” and “Next Skin Serum” intended for my girlfriend. Supposedly postage only….. My bank gave me a 1800 number (US) which I called. Still got the run around as you have suggested i might. I will continue to ring and pester them. My bank has informed me that they have exhausted all their avenues. Its all down to me…. I think I have spent my $400…. badly.

        1. Keep on the case because the more trouble you cause for them – the more likely you are to get a refund or at least a partial refund. Most CC companies will allow you to request a refund through their processes or I believe it is to create a “dispute” (see Sue’s comments below) but they usually won’t promise results.

  8. Hi Judi,
    Yep, I was scammed, too, for 2 months, $450! I followed your advice – thank you – and read the Marketplace piece on this.
    My CCC Fraud Dept. connected me directly with Advanced Skin Care. They agreed to cancel my subscription and I have an email confirming that, but no offer of refund was forthcoming. The rep read the first clause of the T & C which refers to the amount to be billed each month. I assured her that I always read those fastidiously and saw nothing of the sort online.
    I reported back to Visa, now referred to the Disputes Dept, read the email and they recorded the Ref. No. They will credit $100 to my account, and have assured me that no further charges will be made, they will handle it.
    I have arranged a replacement card but will activate it only after the credit is posted to the old one. I also have the phone number from them and will follow up with the company for a full refund.
    S & H is billed on the date we sign up online and their argument is that the 14 day trail period begins then, even though we don’t have the product in our hands for most of those days. My point is that they have absolutely no intention of honouring their own “contract”. And the offer of credit from Visa seems to amount to an acknowledgement of their complicity in allowing this to continue.

    1. Sue,
      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
      I agree that the CC companies are complicit. They know about these scams and do little or nothing to shut them down because they make money on the fees.
      I hope that you succeeded in your own case to get a refund.

  9. I just went through the same thing with them. They are very well trained and will not discuss or address refund. Even though i sent this back immediately without opening it as i had realized they were going to bill me after i saw all those little charges on my card. sure enough, even though they have product back they billed me $400. I don’t have anything. These people are despicable. There is no such thing as free trial, i know this and in a lapse of judgement bought this ****. Facebook is pathetic too as they let these *******s advertise and stuff just pops up. I am getting off Facebook as you cannot ever really get off and getting a new credit card. Karma will come to these people

    1. Lisa,
      I understand your frustration – especially since you do not have any product in the end. You might want to keep trying for that refund as they do not like being contacted multiple times and may eventually give in.
      I also agree with your comments regarding Facebook as I too was embarrassed that a lapse of judgement allowed me to fall for the advertising. And we all should know that there is little in life that is “free” – except a smile.
      Even if you cannot negotiate a “refund”, you have still taken the best action by cancelling the credit card and getting a new one to ensure that further payments cannot be taken from you. The banks and credit card companies however know these are scams and should be doing more to protect our money from these thieves.
      Although you didn’t get the satisfaction of a refund, thanks for sharing your story, Judi B

  10. THIS IS A SCAM. I just got charged $400 approx. I am beyond upset. I called my CC company right away to cancel my CC.
    Then I called the Skin Company. They did cancel my order but did NOT refund my money. What do I do?

    1. V, you have done the right thing in cancelling your credit card and cancelling the subscription.
      As for getting your money back, I suggest that you keep harassing the Skin-Cream company. They may eventually give in like they did for me. At least you may get some of your money back. The first time I did it they only offered me 50% but I kept calling and asking for a manager until I got all of it back.
      You could also try calling your credit card company “fraud department” and asking if they offer any refunds fro known scams?
      Sorry I cannot offer any more advice but wish you well in your attempt to recover the funds. Thanks for sharing your story with others, Judi B

  11. The same thing happened to me. I was charged from skin balance $197.22 and final skin today $188.58 called them spoke to a Sara which was not pleasant at all didnt want to help at all. They would not credit back the amount at all, i even said that one of the products was still wrapped up and that i could resend, they didn’t care they just said NO. I am so upset how they can trick you into ordering something that you think you will get for free. I was on facebook and it popped up and said it was a product from someone on city line tv and that is why i wanted to try it. It said they believed so much in the product and that you would see a difference and for FREE. I just spoke to the credit card fraud department they calmed me down because i was crying and they said they would send me a new card and look into this matter. I really hope people read this so they don’t fall into the same trap like i did. I hope these people lose there jobs because that is not fair, do they think its easy to come up with $400

    1. I understand your frustration as the Facebook ads are FALSE, especially the celebrity endorsements, as shown in the CBC marketplace video –
      I am sorry that you were unable to get a refund, but you might want to keep trying. Sometimes we can get what we need through “persistence”.
      However you did the right thing by cancelling your credit card so they cannot continue taking the funds.
      I agree that $400 is an outrageous amount of money to have stolen from you, especially if you are on a fixed monthlky income.
      Thank you for sharing your story, so that others will hopefully avoid your experience.

  12. Judi! Thank you so much!! This just happened to me and I’d wish I’d known, because I feel like such an idiot. I persisted, contacting the company twice with no luck. After doing some online research, and finding your post, I called back to threaten to take the story to the police, and volia, they reluctantly agreed to refund the charges ($186 and $194) that were processed just yesterday. I’m still out the initial shipping and charge for the first “trial” month, but I’m so incredibly grateful to have recouped the additional $400! I’m also grateful to my credit card company for flagging the transaction (the company changed it’s name from the original “trial” purchase) which is why I finally clued in to the additional charges. I feel like such an idiot. Thank you for encouraging persistence. It worked. I think I’m still going to go to the police though. How is this kind of thing ever going to stop if we don’t report it?

    1. Thanks for sharing. I agree we that we need to do everything we can to stop these scams.

  13. I got caught up in this scam too!
    I tried to contact them through various email addresses, but either did not get a reply or the enmail came back, not known!!
    I then contacted my credit card provider and was directed to the fraud department, who took all the particulars. I told them I had tried to contact the scammers and also told them, I didn’t recall ever agreeing to paying the exorbanant $ amount or to receiving more products. The credit company contacted them and within a couple of hours, I received an email from skinbalance and totaladvance giving me a refund. However they withheld$50 on each cream. I emailed them back and insisted that I receive a total refund or I was going to contact BBB, W5 or 60 minutes to investigate them.
    I have got my complete refund! I am trying to find the addresses for W5 and 60 minutes, also FB should do something about screening some of these so called businesses. I wish you luck in getting your money back.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story of how you got your refund. I agree that Facebook should help to screen these scams.

  14. Agreed. This company is a total ripoff and a costly lesson. I tried posting on their site and my comments were taken down in less than a minute. Customer support hung up on me when I asked for a supervisor. Terms and conditions are unclear and they charge an exorbitant amount 14 days after contact, not 14 days after billing shipping and handling. Today is the 14th day for me and they refused to even discuss a solution but to give them their due (very small) I did get a follow up email confirming that my “membership” was cancelled. 😡
    My cc company was able to give me a contact number immediately for my charges, I.e. 1-855-302-0540

    1. Georgina, Sorry to hear about your frustration with the advanced skin cream scam. I am glad to hear that your CC company was cooperative in providing you information. At least the cancellation was acknowledged so that the exorbitant charges will stop. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  15. Thanks for your help, I finally stopped the delivery of those Ugly Cream!!! And cancelled my credit card at my bank!!! And I will continue to harrass them for this big scam!!! Thanks for publishing the phone number so they are stopping to deliver the cream!!! Excuse my English, I’m french oxxo

    1. Claudette, Thanks for sharing your experience so others can learn from our unfortunate experience.

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