Sam Garst is a smart kid who was the valedictorian of his high school class.
The now-freshman college student said he fell for a deceptive ad on the Internet promising whiter teeth.
I feel like it could happen to anyone, said Garst.
The ad, from a company called Dazzle Smile advertises a trial offer. If Sam would just pay a few dollars for shipping and handling, he could Smile Like a Celebrity.
I feel like having white teeth is important. Because it makes you more presentable, said Sam.
He was less than impressed with the product.
It was a piece of junk. It was horrible and it tasted disgusting, he said.
He also got a bad taste in his mouth when he got on-line and checked his credit card statement.
There was a $79 charge from some random company, he said.
Sam called his mom in a late-night panic.
What am I going to do, Karen Garst said of her son's frustration, I said, I'll pursue it.
Sam's mom Karen happens to be the former director of the Oregon State Bar. She went on Dazzle Smile's website and had a chat with a customer representative. The representative, named Maria insisted that Sam was not a customer.
It was about four or five times. Then they said, we have his account, Karen Garst said, They agreed to stop the trial but that wasn't good enough. I wanted my $80 back.
But it wasn't that easy.
Dazzle Smile's Customer representative referred Karen to the terms and conditions, located in fine print. It clearly states that the customer has 14 days to return the product. If the customer doesn't, he or she's credit card will get billed $87 every 30 days.
I think it is deceptive. Yes, there it is in fine print, but do you read the fine print? No, said Karen Garst.
Two months later and still with no refund, Karen called the company again. At first, the representative said the computers weren't working. Karen was furious.
They messed with the wrong person, she said.
She filed a complaint with the state attorney generals office. Weeks later, she received a letter from a law firm in New York on behalf of Dazzle Smile. The letter claimed Sam's account was credited, but it wasn't.
I felt used. I felt like a victim, said Sam.
Seven more people in Oregon have filed with the state attorney generals office.
Dazzle Smile has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and there are five pages of complaints on the website RipoffReport.com
NewsChannel 8 called the 1-800 number to get the company's side of the story. They said there was no corporate office. KGW also called the law firm which sent a letter to Karen Garst and the lawyer on the letterhead and asking for comment. The lawyers never responded.
The Iowa attorney generals office admits the call center is located in Des Moines, but the company is based out of Canada.
You can't reach them. They were unattainable because they were in cyberspace, said Sam Garst.
Karen finally got her $80 back but it took her months. .She wants the truth out about this company so other parents don't face the same problem with their children.
They are clever predators.