Update August 9, 2009: Absurdly high number of comments and hits on this page. The latest is reported in this CNET article.
Update March 8, 2009: 2,653 comments. Plus, there has been a settlement of the class action lawsuit: Webloyalty Settlement.
Update September 13, 2006: Webloyaltyâ€¦ sued.
Update May 7, 2006: I get a lot of email asking me â€œhow do I get them to stop charging me?â€ My entry below, and about 1,000 of the comments, tell you how, but hereâ€™s the short version: call 800-732-7031 and tell them you want all your money back. Do not give up until they refund all of it.
Update July 25, 2006: Nearly 1,300 comments and countingâ€¦
I recently noticed a charge on my credit card bill for â€œWLI*RESERVATIONREWARDS 800-7327031â€ CT for $9. I had no idea what the charge was, so I called 1-800-732-7031 and finally figured it out. Below is a slightly edited letter Iâ€™ve sent to the Massachusetts Attorney General Consumer Protection office. If nothing else, I hope this weblog entry shows up on a search for this company, the phone number, or Vincent Dâ€™Agostino (the President of the company) and Mary Oâ€™Reilly (the customer service director). (My apologies to any Vincent Dâ€™Agostinos or Mary Oâ€™Reillys out there who arenâ€™t related to this scam).
On November 2, 2004, I purchased airline tickets from the website onetravel.com.
On my most recent credit card bill, I noticed a charge for $9 for a transaction on 12/2 posted on 12/5 for WLI*RESERVATIONREWARDS 800-7327031 CT. I had no idea what the charge was, and was certain I hadnâ€™t signed up for any â€œreservation rewardsâ€ program, so I did a web search for the phone number for the item. Apparently, many other people have had the same exact charge for the same item without ever having ordered it.
I called the company to dispute the charge, and they insisted that I had signed up for some kind of rewards service when I purchased airline tickets. I insisted that I had never signed up for any such service, but they claimed they had sent me three emails confirming the service, which apparently is a monthly subscription for $9 per month which gives you discounts on some products or services online.
When I complained that I was sure I had never signed up for any such service, they said that they had â€œmillions of satisfied customersâ€ and that the complaints were just a few.
Since I maintain my own mail server, I was able to search back over the last 60 days of mail logs, and there was no record of any email originating from this company. Even if such an email had been caught by a spam filter, it would still show up in the mail log. I am thus certain that they never sent any confirmation emails.
Finally, I threatened to contact my state attorney general, and at that point they agreed to refund the $9 and cancel my subscription.
I am a computer programmer and intellectual property attorney specializing in Internet law, and thus I am not a naive Internet consumerâ€”while I realize that some people may accidentally sign up for services they didnâ€™t intend to purchase, I am certain that I never did this. I believe this company is operating fraudulently, and their â€œmillions of satisfied customersâ€ are people who do not scrutinize their credit card bills carefully, since a $9 charge is easy to miss.
I would like the Consumer Protection division of the Attorney Generalâ€™s Office to look into this problem as I am sure it affects many Massachusetts Citizens.
Please donâ€™t hesitate to contact me for more information. The Connecticut Better Business Bureau also lists the following address for the company in question:
101 Merritt Seven, 7th Floor (Corporate Offices)
Norwalk, CT 06851
This doesnâ€™t speak very well of onetravel.com, although I hear expedia.com and other providers have similar dealings with webloyalty.com.
Iâ€™d like to think the web could ultimately prevent more fraud than it enables, but at this point I think the prognosis is bleak. Leave a comment below if youâ€™ve had a similar experience with this company.
Update: This site includes dozensâ€”maybe hundredsâ€”of reports of the same problem with this company.