Opps they did it again..

Opps they did it again… and their liability insurance company wants out.

Provide Commerce (parent company of Shari’s Berries, ProFlowers, Red Envelope, Cherry Moon Farms and more) seems have ticked off another group of customers.  Their customers have filed another class action lawsuit for passing credit card information to a company that then bills the customers monthly. The case regarding what is commonly knows as the Easy Saver Scam is still pending and according to some customers they are doing something similar with a new partner “Clarus Marketing Group”.

According to the documents we’ve found (Click for details),  (shorter version here) they used the lure of “free shipping”,  and once the customers clicked on that ad they were unwittingly signed up for a membership program that billed them between $9 and $15 monthly.

Another lawsuit that came to light was the one by their insurance group. from the linked document:

Hartford Fire Insurance Company issued commercial general liability policies to the parent company of Provide Commerce, naming Provide Commerce as an insured.” “seeking a judicial determination of  whether Hartford is obligated to continue defending Provide Commerce, Encore and  Regent in two putative nationwide class actions“.

Hartford no longer wants to have to be involved with defending the Provide Commerce (ProFlowers, Shari’s Berries, Cherry Moon Farms, Red Envelope…)  companies from the lawsuits regarding these practices. Insurance protects against accidents, but if you willfully and knowingly break the law they don’t back you up.   (Partial details here). Right now we’re only seeing the documents on the related filings, not the full case, but if the liability insurance company wants to distance itself: they must think there is something to the class action lawsuits.

Consumers have been responding to “Free Shipping” offers like a Pavlovian dogs responding to dinner bells.  Companies have found that by posting “Free Shipping”: the customers will go partially blind and not notice anything except the “Free”.  Pretty much like a 17 year old boy in a strip club. You have companies like Provide Commerce raking in millions with their version and you have other companies raising prices and then claiming free shipping, and consumers are drooling like a pack of well trained dogs. While the “free shipping” scams are supposed to be regulated either by law enforcement agencies or at least the credit card companies: no responsible entity has shut them down.

How are they getting away with this? (and by “they” we mean all the companies named above plus the other “Free Shipping” scammers)
So far there have just been consumer class action lawsuits,
NO ACTION has been taken by the criminal courts,
NO ACTION by the FTC, (on this or any “Free Shipping” false offers.)
NO ACTION by Visa, MasterCard or American Express: the companies involved can still process credit cards,
While congress held hearings on similar types of behaviors: congress does not file criminal complaints. (they write laws: they do not enforce them)
Basically the  sections of the government and credit card companies that are tasked with limiting/preventing consumer fraud have done nothing.

I’m sort of surprised that in this second  class action  lawsuit didn’t list the credit card companies as additional co-defendants. The credit card companies knew about the previous activity and continued to allow activities that violated the merchant agreements.

Since the credit card companies and enforcement agencies have not stopped this type of scam how can it be stopped?

That’s a subject for another day, as no one expects to order flowers or chocolate covered strawberries and get signed up for a membership service that bills you $15 a month.

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