I read an article that lead me to an offer for a $7 wine-tasting experience that would be shipped to my door. Thinking this would be a fun and innocent experience, I signed right up with Tasting Room. Thinking it would be just like all other hundreds of online stores and services I've used over the years, I thought nothing of it, quickly running through the purchase process.
I got my little box of wine samplers in the mail a few days later. It came with instructions to visit their website to rate the wines they sent as you tasted them, so they could customize your 'taste profile' and recommend wines to you based on this profile. So, I followed the instructions, and my husband and I tasted and rated the wines. I really didn't care for any of them, but it was a fun experience at the time. When I finished my taste profile setup, I was directed to a page that showed me my wine preferences and on the top it showed their services. These services involved sending full bottles of wine based on your preferences; the options were how many bottles you would receive in the mail, and their corresponding prices. Unfortunately, the prices were too high for me, so I exited the page, thinking that was the end of it.
The next day, I received notification of a charge for $180 from Tasting Room. It seems they had automatically signed me up for their most expensive wine shipment service. I immediately e-mailed them to cancel this order. I did not receive a response all day, and later, I received notification that the order had shipped. I e-mailed them again, and this time a representative immediately responded that they could not cancel the order because it had already shipped. They told me I could reject the package and I would be refunded, except for the shipping and a return fee of $15 would be charged.
Considering I had no idea I was signing up for a recurring payment, and I did not request or select this order, I did not feel that I should have to pay a cent. I respectfully asked they refund the shipping charge and waive the $15 return fee. They refused, saying that I had agreed to this order by accepting their terms of service. I informed them that if they had responded to my first e-mail that morning as timely as they had responded to my second e-mail, they could have cancelled the order before it shipped, thus this mistake was on them and they should cover the fees. They refused, continuing to throw their supposed policies at my face. I believe they intentionally ignored my first e-mail until the order had shipped, so they had an excuse to say they could not cancel my order and take my money in fees.
Naturally I went online, and discovered countless people had experienced this exact same thing. They received orders they did not ask for, the cancellation of membership process was difficult, and customer service was stubborn and impossible to deal with. As I tried to negotiate with customer service, they repeatedly told me that their policies were clearly stated and evident, and that I had agreed to them. While I'm sure these policies were stated in fine print, the fact that so many people failed to recognize what they had signed up for makes it evident that their policies were not clearly stated. That many people don’t miss something that is supposedly obvious.
I have come to believe that this company thrives on people being ignorant of what they are signing up for. This is not a respectable business practice and I truly believe people need to be warned before they give this sketchy, fraudulent company their payment information. I wish I had done my research before purchasing that sampler, so I wouldn’t be $35 short for nothing.