Chatham County woman says being polite, persistent was key to refund from shady deal

Investigators

MONCURE, N.C. (WNCN) – A Chatham County woman’s story of not allowing herself to be taken advantage of provides advice on how others can be their own consumer advocates.

Jennifer Edwards said she was offered a high-tech flashlight for free, but the deal went sideways when $80 in charges popped up.

“I called my bank and said I didn’t authorize these charges and I don’t know what they are for,” Edwards said.

It began when Edwards bought $700 in lumber from a national retailer. She was asked to fill out a survey.

“At the end of the survey, they said you have a value of $50 and sent you to other websites,” Edwards said.

She landed on a website promoting a high-tech flashlight. She said she lives in an RV, so she thought it would come in handy. All she had to do was pay $4.95 for shipping and handling. The company offered a second light for another $4.95, which she also paid for.

The flashlights showed up a few days later, then the bills followed.

“The first charge was for $44.95 and the second charge was $34.95,” Edwards said.

Edwards called to complain, but was told the “free deal” was actually a 15-day trial and she was on the hook for the $80. After some back and forth with the person taking the call, Edwards said the woman hung up on her.

“I got angry. I absolutely did,” Edwards said. “I got more frustrated the more times I called and got hung up on.”

Edwards wouldn’t let it go. She called several times. Her persistence and patience were rewarded.

“After three days, lo and behold, there was the refund,” she said.

Edwards said she had a screenshot of the original website she visited offering the free flashlight. She had her credit card information and told the company she was prepared to file a complaint with the attorney general. She said she was persistent and kept repeating the facts to everyone she spoke to with the company.

Edwards believes these are techniques others can use, too. Experts also have advice on how people can be their own advocates.

  • Research and check the company’s reputation
  • Pay with a credit card so charges can be disputed
  • Get all promises in writing
  • Never pay in full upfront – wait until work is completed

“You have rights and you need to chase those rights down and make sure they’re working for you,” Edwards said.

Being polite is also key to people acting as their own advocate. No one responds well when they’re on the receiving end of a rant. Polite insistence pays off.

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