Money back guarantee hid another fee

Cristina Miranda
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Starting a new business? That used to mean throwing a name on some brick and mortar. Nowadays, you need a website. Lots of companies sell domain names and web hosting services that let customers put up websites. It pays to go with one that spells out all the terms and conditions before you buy. But what if a company promises a refund as part of its 30-day money back guarantee — and then surprises you with a nonrefundable fee? That’s called deception.

That’s what the FTC says happened to customers of Network Solutions, LLC, one of the largest domain name and web hosting companies. According to the FTC, Network Solutions advertised a 30-day money back guarantee for web hosting services, implying that customers who cancelled within 30 days of purchase would get full refunds. But the company failed to clearly disclose that part of the refunds were subject to a cancellation fee.

Even if customers had searched the Network Solutions website, says the FTC, they would have had a hard time finding out about the fee. The only information available was through a small hyperlink at the bottom of the company’s web page. This led customers to a pop-up window, which finally mentioned the fee’s existence. But that wasn’t enough to clearly disclose the fee. 

If you feel you’ve been duped, or spot a claim that turns out not to be what it seemed, file a complaint with the FTC.

For general tips on knowing the terms of what you’re buying online, check out Shopping Online.