Even though they're everywhere, including in advertising on reputable news sites, online offers for the promise of that whiter, brighter smile should make consumers extremely wary, the Better Business Bureau warns.
Several online companies are offering free trials or enrollment programs to sell teeth-whitening products, but when consumers think they've been misled and experience difficulty getting refunds, they file complaints with the BBB."Two Colorado Internet companies that sell teeth whiteners are the subject of many BBB complaints, one of which – Ivory White – has seen a recent spike in complaints," the BBB in Denver and Boulder, Colorado said in a statement.
"Ivory White, based in Boulder, has an F-rating with the BBB for many reasons, including an ongoing pattern of complaints regarding advertising, billing and product issues. Consumers often allege that they follow the terms advertised for returns but they get billed anyway and cannot get a refund from the company," the bureau said.
The BBB has received 874 complaints about Ivory White in the last three years. The company does most of its advertising through pop-ups on third-party websites, including social media networks.
Another company with similar consumer issues is Broomfield, Colorado-based Bella Brite, the BBB said.
"This company also has an F-rating with the BBB for a pattern of complaints surrounding many of the same types of issues as Ivory White," the organization said. "The BBB has received 166 complaints about this company in the last three years."
Neither Ivory White nor Bella Brite were available to comment.
The BBB offers the following advice to consumers on purchasing teeth whitening products online:
Read the fine print carefully.
Many websites offering a free trial of a teeth-whitening product don't clearly disclose billing terms and conditions. Before giving the company any credit or debit card information, review the website and be aware "free" trials usually result in repeated billing.
Check the company out with the BBB.
Before signing up for a free trial, you can use BBB and other resources like simple Google searches to see if any negative information is associated with the company.
Beware of pop-ups.
Pop-up ads that offer "free" samples for products in exchange for a survey or free prizes in exchange for trying products are almost always unsatisfactory experiences for users who click. Consumers who have filed complaints with the BBB about Ivory White allege they were lured in with offers of free iPads and Southwest Airline vouchers they did not receive.
File a complaint if you think you've been ripped off.
Consumers who think they're being deceived by a business selling teeth-whitening products online can file complaints with the BBB, attorney general's office in their state and Federal Trade Commission.
See the BBB's "Teeth Whitening Products Sold Online Wipe Smile Off Consumers' Faces" for more information.
Teeth-Whitening Offers Won't Leave Customers Smiling