The source of these puzzling monthly fees appears to be a group of marketing companies that acquire consumers’ billing information through agreements with popular online retail sites.
On many well-known websites, including Priceline.com, Staples.com, and Classmates.com, after consumers make a purchase, a hyperlink or “pop up” window appears and offers consumers a cash back reward if they sign up for a company’s online membership service. If consumers accept the offer by providing an e-mail address and clicking a “yes” button, their credit card or debit card account information is automatically forwarded to the company and they are automatically enrolled in the service. And unless the consumer cancels this online membership service, their credit card or debit card is indefinitely charged $9-$12 on a monthly basis.
These deceptive online “mystery charges” have generated thousands of complaints from internet consumers who were unaware they were signing up for a monthly service that charged a fee.
Chairman Rockefeller sent letters to two of the leading “post-transaction” e-commerce marketing companies, Vertrue Inc. and Webloyalty.com, Inc, on May 27, 2009 to extract more information about these controversial practices.