The problem is, many of those complaining don't realize for some time, or at all, that they've signed up because the charges -- usually just a bit more than $10 -- don't jump out on their credit card bills.
Webloyalty disputes the charges and says that its policies are clear and legal.
"Webloyalty.com provides its two million members with valuable, easy to use reward, discount and protection services. We make every effort to be straightforward with our offers, allowing consumers to make educated choices regarding the products and services they purchase. We would like all of our members to derive value from our services and remain members for a long time. However, if someone wants to cancel, we make it easy for them to do so by contacting our Customer Service Centers," said Rick Fernandes, CEO, Webloyalty.But this is how a typical consumer complaint goes: Lori Peters-Merkel, who lives outside Spokane, Wash., said she purchased something online last year only to discover later that from July through February she received three separate charges of $11.99 a month on her credit card. She said she remembers clicking through some windows after her transaction, but knows she never agreed to subscribe to any of those programs.
Blumenthal said his office has been looking into the Norwalk, Conn., based company for a while and can't project when the probe will be complete. He said he wasn't sure how many consumers had complained to his office, but the Connecticut office of the Better Business Bureau reports fielding 1,627 in the past three years.
That's enough to indicate there's a problem. And when you consider that those who complain represent only a small fraction of those who could, there are an awful lot of people out there dealing with this company -- many who don't even realize it.
The company was the target of a 2006 class action suit filed in federal court in Boston, which recently settled -- affecting those who unwiitingly became members between September 2000 and September 2008. While the settlement calls for the company to pay no more than $10 million (a hefty chunk of which goes to the lawyers), the settlement can end up being a real loss to victims.
As part of the settlement, the site webmarketingsettlement.com was created. Some who have received email notifications about the site have questioned whether the site is a scam since they don't recall ever using the company's services.
First, it is not a scam. Second, that doesn't mean you don't have something to lose.
If you're a victim and you don't fill out the paperwork on the site, under the terms of the settlement you relinquish your right to recover your losses. If you do sign up, you can't recover any more than two months of payments.
However, if you find you were unknowingly a long-term subscriber, you can officially opt out of the settlement and pursue other remedies, such as filing complaints with the BBB, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection or the Connecticut Attorney General. The BBB, a private business ethics organization, has reported some success recovering losses after consumer complaints. You can also call Webloyalty Customer Service Center can be reached by calling 1-800-732-7031 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.