BBB says Buyer Beware when clicking on Facebook ads


by News Release

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 4:06 PM

BBB says Buyer Beware when Clicking on Facebook Ads.

BBB is advising social networkers to read the fine print when

responding to ads on Facebook or other social networking sites

because the large print doesn't always tell the whole story. Ubiquitous

ads for weight loss products, work-at-home opportunities and offers

for "free" computers can cost shoppers more than they bargained for

in the long run.

According to Nielsen Online, social networking sites were more

popular than e-mail in 2008. Facebook's 108.3 million members spent

20.5 billion minutes on the site last year alone. Advertisers are going

where the people are and eMarketer estimates that $1.3 billion will be

spent on social networking advertising in 2009.

People need to use extreme caution and read the fine print before

handing over their credit card information. Just because an ad

appears on a Web site they trust, doesn't mean they can always trust

the advertisers. Following are just a few examples of common ads on

social networking sites and what the fine print reveals:

The Pitch: Lose 4 Dress Sizes

In January, BBB issued a warning to consumers about online ads and

Web sites that use Oprah's name to sell acai berry supplements as

weight-loss miracles. Despite the warning, these ads are still common

on Facebook and MySpace and link to fake blogs such as that are designed to look like testimonials

of women who lost weight on the acai supplements. Recent research

by the Center for Science in the Public Interest identified more than

75 phony blogs that led to Web sites touting acai-berry supplements

as a weight loss miracle.

The Fine Print: The phony blogs link to Web sites that offer a free

trial of an acai supplement, and while the customer may think they

only have to pay shipping, they could get billed as much as $87.13

every month if they don't cancel before the trial period ends. The fine

print also explains that the trial period begins from the moment the

customer orders the supplements and not after they receive the


BBB Warns: Not only do health experts question the legitimacy of

the weight loss claims linked to the acai berry, BBB has received

thousands of complaints from consumers against such acai

supplement companies because many were billed despite never

receiving their free trial or were billed every month despite numerous

attempts to cancel.

The Pitch: Learn How I Make $67,000 a Year Being a Stay-at-Home Mom!

There are many ads on Facebook that advertise ways to make easy money from home. Similar

to the acai berry ads, the ads link to blogs that were supposedly created by people who made

money through a work-at-home program. One such blog written by a "Sarah Roberts" claims

that she added "$67,000 a year to her family's income working 10 hours a week (that's over

$128 an hour!)" by creating Web sites that host Google ads. Another,,

is ostensibly written by the newly married Jason who makes " around $5,500 to $7,000 a month

from Google."

The Fine Print: The blogs direct readers to Web sites for programs such as Internet Money

Machine and Easy Google Cash where they can sign up for a seven-day trial access to

information on how to make money from home. While the free trial supposedly only costs

$1.95-$2.95, the individual will be charged $69.90 every month if they don't cancel seven days

from signing up. The fine print also states that the company does not give refunds.

BBB Warns: Use extreme caution when signing up for a work-at-home job or money-making

opportunity online. In 2008 alone, BBB received more than 3,500 complaints from people who

signed up for offers to learn how to work from home but were ultimately disappointed. Job

hunters should also be aware that while some work-at-home opportunities have the word

"Google" in their name and use Google's logo on their Web sites, they are not actually affiliated

with Google.

The Pitch: Get a Free Purple [Red, Pink, Green, Black,] MacBook.

Also common on Facebook are ads to get a free MacBook Air claiming that the company is

seeking laptop testers. The ads lead to an incentive marketing program at where participants must sign up for various products and services in

order to earn their free laptop.

The Fine Print: Customers must complete two options from each of the three tiers, Top, Prime

and Premium before receiving their "free" MacBook. Example offers listed in the Top and Prime

tiers include signing up for credit cards or trial offers for subscription services such as for

vitamin supplements or DVD rental services. In some cases, the participant will need to pay for

shipping, and if they aren't vigilant about canceling the trial offers they signed up for, they'll

begin being billed every month.

Examples of the Premium offers listed on the Web site that must be met in order to get the

MacBook are much more expensive and include paying as much as $1,500 for furniture or

purchasing a travel package with a minimum value of $899.00 per person.

BBB Warns: Incentive programs can be extremely costly in the long run and the fine print

shows that the customer might have to pay a significant amount of money in order to get their

"Free" items. It is also a red flag that Apple does not even make MacBook Air in purple, red,

pink, or green.

Not all ads on social networking sites are misleading and misleading ads aren't confined to

Facebook or MySpace. The point is, is that it's important for people to always read the fine print

carefully before giving their credit card information online.

For more consumer tips, go to