Settlement reached with Internet-based health supplement subscription company‏

Nick Rees Nov. 25, 2009, 11:00am

Bill McCollum (R)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Attorney General Bill McCollum has reached a settlement agreement with an Internet-based provider of non-prescription dietary and health supplements that allegedly trapped consumers in a subscription plan.

FWM Laboratories, its subsidiaries and its owners were alleged to have offered so-called free 17-day trials of several products with the understanding that consumers would be allowed to cancel their subscriptions before the trial period ended. Those who canceled their subscriptions in that time frame would then not receive a monthly bill.

Hundreds of complaints were filed by consumers with the attorney general's Economic Crimes Division alleging that consumers were not able to contact FWM by telephone, email or through the company's Web sites to cancel their subscriptions before their trial period ended. As a result, the consumers were allegedly billed an $80 or more monthly fee for products that they did not want or need.

McCollum began investigating the Broward County-based FWM in February. The company and its owners fully cooperated with the investigation and agreed to openly describe all terms and conditions of any trial offer located on all of the company's Web sites.

In addition, the company and its subsidiaries are also required to clearly and explicitly disclose to consumers how and when products may be returned.

The appropriate level of customer service resources to field cancellation requests will also be maintained by the company as part of the settlement. FWM will also examine, address and resolve all complaints related to its business, products and trial offers.

FWM has already paid more than $34 million in consumer refunds since the start of McCollum's investigation and, in addition to continuing its consumer restitution, agreed to pay $200,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

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