The Better Business Bureau is giving a stiff warning about The Snuggie.
The Snuggie is a wearable blanket that was a hot seller last Christmas.
"It conjures up visions of coziness and relaxation, but it's now making some consumers uncomfortable with its new rebate program," says BBB spokeswoman Niki Horace.
After purchasing a $20 Snuggie, consumers receive a rebate check for $8.95 from Snuggie distributor Great Fun, which features the following inscription on the back:
"I authorize Great Fun to charge the annual membership fee after my free trial. I agree to a thirty-day trail offer in Great Fun. I understand that the $149.99 annual membership fee will be charged to my credit card on file with Snuggie unless I cancel my membership by calling 1-866-709-4170 before the end of the trial period. My membership will be automatically renewed and I will also be charged every year thereafter at the then-current fee unless I call to cancel for a refund of the unused portion of the current year's fee. By cashing this check I authorize Snuggie to securely transfer my credit card information to Great Fun for enrollment, billing and benefitprocessing."
By cashing this check, consumers are inadvertently agreeing to these trial membership terms-and if the consumer does not cancel-G reat Fun will charge $150 on the credit card used to pay for the Snuggie.
In the last 36 months, Connecticut's BBB has received more than 3,000 complaints against Great Fun, also known as Affinion Groupor Trilegiant.
"Those who cash the rebate check, without reading the back, may find themselves paying hundreds of dollars for a product that's worth very little," said Robert W.G. Andrew, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon, and Western Washington. The BBB recommends the following tips when shoppingfor infomercialproducts:
Shop carefully. Before you buy, check out companies at .
Cash checks with caution. Cashing checks from unknown parties could end up costing you more than it's worth. If you didn't work for the money, weren't expecting a check, or don't read the fine print, you could be at risk for inadvertently signing up for an unwanted service-or worse-check fraud or an advance fee scam. The bottom line: Never deposit unsolicited checks from unfamiliar sources.
Update 7/28/2009:Allstar Products Group, maker of Snuggie(tm) blanket with sleeves, issued the following statement today:
There have been a number of inaccurate reports regarding an offer recently sent to a limited number of consumers who purchased a Snuggie(tm) blanket. It was not Allstar Products Group's intention for Great Fun's offer to in anyway mislead our customers and we want to ensure consumers fully understand the program. Indeed, prior to being presented to some of our customers, we were advised by Great Fun that the offer was in full compliance with state and federal laws.
Great Fun is a 20-year-old entertainment discount program offered by a third-party, Affinion. The program provides valuable discounts that many consumers appreciate. It includes discounts at well-known hotels, restaurants, theme parks, movie theaters and more popular attractions.
Terms of the Great Fun program, including the $149 annual fee, are clearly explained and included in multiple places - on the check and in the accompanying letter. The program is backed by a guarantee of satisfaction and customers can cancel at anytime.
The $8.25 check which accompanies the offer is not a rebate, nor was it ever represented as a rebate. It is an incentive for consumers who may be interested in enrolling in Great Fun.
"We respect our customers and want to alleviate their concerns for any confusion this offer may have caused," said Ronald Steblea, Executive Vice President Allstar Products Group. "We also want to assure consumers that this was a test program and that the Great Fun mailing was distributed to a very small sample of Snuggie customers who ordered a Snuggie blanket via the direct response television campaign. If anyone has any questions about the program, please contact customer service at 1-866-770-7622."