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Acai Complaints

Ads promoting pills containing Brazilian Acai Berry for weight loss are very common online. Trial samples of the products are touted as "risk free" for only shipping and handling charges by credit card. However, at the bottom of the ads, in print smaller than most people would ever want their waists to be, is the notice that the recipient must return any unused portion of the product within a very narrow period of time. If they don't the companies may automatically begin charging the consumer reoccurring monthly fees or enter them into memberships that range from $39 to $100 a month.

In November alone, more than 1.5 million people searched for the term on Google. Online ads and Web sites often include a photo of a celebrity - such as Oprah and Rachel Ray - and claim that she endorses acai as a weight loss miracle.

"The BBB strongly encourages consumers to make sure to read all the fine print and terms & conditions while purchasing any product, and be especially cautious with free trial offers," said Steve J. Bernas president and CEO of The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.

The problems that many consumers are reporting to the BBB include not receiving the product in a timely manner, and being charged despite not having the ability to try the product out. Alternately, some consumers allege trying to cancel the offers by the end of the trial period as directed, only to find themselves having a difficult time reaching a representative before being charged. Other consumers complaining to the BBB allege that the Acai diet pill offers and their terms & conditions were not disclosed in a clear and conspicuous way.

"BBB can't speak to the restorative or weight loss properties of acai-based products, but we are taking companies to task for their misleading sales and marketing practices," said Bernas. "Many businesses across the country are using the same selling model for their acai products: they lure customers in with celebrity endorsements and free trial offers, and then lock them in by making it extremely difficult to cancel the automatic delivery of more acai products every month."

With weight loss advertising and misleading free trial complaints on the rise, the BBB wants to alert consumers about the restrictive terms and conditions that may be part of free trial offers.

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