Consumers who are at home more than usual during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic may be especially interested in getting in shape by trying out convenient web-based health and fitness services. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about Noom, a popular app-based weight loss service.
“Many stay-at-home consumers are looking for options that can help them achieve their health and wellness goals during this pandemic time,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of BBB Serving Metropolitan New York. “Smartphone applications and online programs may seem convenient – especially when coupled with attractive free trial offers – but consumers must always be cautious when shopping for a weight loss service.”
Between August 16, 2019, and August 18, 2020, BBB received 1,213 consumer complaints regarding Noom, representing a significant uptick in complaint volume over previous years. Since July 2017, Noom has drawn a total of 2,023 complaints.
According to complaints made to BBB, consumers reportedly try to cancel the trial offer before it ends but still end up being billed for the subscription. A number of these consumers said they believed that after the free trial the cost of monthly membership was between $20 and $40. Instead, they discovered that they were charged for several months upfront upon the free trial’s end, resulting in alleged charges varying from $120 to $180 or more. Consumers consistently alleged difficulty trying to get in contact with Noom’s customer service to request a refund of charges. They then turned to BBB for assistance.
As of this date, Noom’s BBB Business Profile displays a D rating due to the high volume of complaints filed against the business and the company’s failure to address the underlying cause of its recent pattern of complaints.
To avoid losing money on free trials and subscription services, especially in the health and wellness area, BBB recommends the following tips:
Be wary of free trial offers, and before signing up, fully understand all the terms and conditions. Free trial offers are common in the health and beauty category. Some deals might become “subscription traps” that hook consumers into paying for expensive products or services that they did not intend or agree to buy. Be cautious and proceed carefully if the business terms say that it takes payment from your credit card until you cancel.
Determine your fitness goals and check the details. It’s hard work to lose weight. Find a program you can stick with, preferably one that you enjoy, with goals that seem reasonable to you. Be sure you understand how the product or service is supposed to work. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn’t meet your needs?
Always be wary of “overpromises” in advertisements and customer testimonials for weight loss services. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), evidence suggests gradual loss of 1-2 pounds per week is a healthy goal and is more successful for achieving long-term weight loss.
Report concerns. If you come across an ad for a weight loss program or product that feels like it’s overpromising or deceptive, report it. Contact your BBB, report suspicious, confusing or misleading ads to BBB Ad Truth and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
Research the company with BBB.org before purchasing. Many companies specializing in weight loss programs or products have lengthy consumer track records with BBB. Check what people have to say about the product or company name by checking BBB.org and searching the internet, in general, to see if there are any complaints alleging issues you may come across yourself.
— to knss.radio.com