Only one name for it - a cynical rip off


Baby names website hides charges and stings the unwary

CHOICE has uncovered a cynical trap hiding within a website about baby names which means simply by clicking ‘I accept’ on the terms and conditions can land consumers with a $144 bill by unwittingly subscribing to the site.

The so-called ‘clickwrap’ contract, common to many online sites, has hidden away in the small print charges which mean consumers are agreeing to be billed $12 a month for one year’s subscription.

The Indonesian-based Babynamemeans.com then uses a Victorian-based debt collection agency as a payments agent to send out demands for the full sum. The site’s small print also threatens further action for non-payment.

A 15-year-old girl doing a school project found Babynamemeans.com and filled in her details as part of a registration to get access the site. The family was shocked to then receive a bill for $144 for an annual subscription to the site and contacted CHOICE.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) clearly states, online or not, businesses must inform consumers about the costs, which need to be both accessible and clearly displayed.

“It’s frankly our view that this is a rolled-gold internet con which is as brazen as it is cynical by using the seemingly innocent guise of a baby name website to mislead and deceive legitimate users,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.

“The internet depends on consumers having some trust in ‘clickwrap’ contracts without having to read megabytes of small print to make sure there are no hidden charges or tricks. But this shows you need to be wary.”

An official complaint has been lodged by the family with Consumer Affairs Victoria. In the meantime CHOICE warns consumers to scan through terms and conditions before clicking ‘I accept’ on any unfamiliar sites.

Related articles

Related tags:
 
 

Know your rights

We look at nine common scenarios and show you how to assert your rights.

12 Jan 2010 | What can you do when you know you’re getting a raw deal, but don't know what to do about it? Read on.

 
Learn more
 

Sign up to our free
e-Newsletter

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.