Portland, Oregon
Not resolved
2.0
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I signed up for a "free trial" with efax.com and sent one fax using their service in October, 2014. Before the trial expired, I contacted them to cancel the account, but their rep offered me a service for $50 annually. I accepted the offer believing that it was the same service at a reduced price. A few days ago, I sent another fax through their service and was immediately billed an additional $10.

I called them to investigate and was informed that the $50 service does not include any outgoing faxes. I then demanded a refund of $60 but was told that the charges were not refundable.

When I accepted the $50 charge, I was not informed that no outgoing faxes were included in the package. Neither was I informed that there would be a $.10 charge for each page faxed and that my credit card would be charged a minimum of $10.

I contacted my bank to protest the charges, but originally, they said that since I was informed that the charges are non-refundable, they will not refund them. I was not informed that the charges were non-refundable until I contested them a few days ago.

However, after one more phone call, they refunded all of my money immediately.

There are well over 200 similar complaints against this company on sites such as ripoffreport.com and others.

Question I asked of an attorney:

What recourse do I have against the company (efax.com) and/or the bank (Chase) ?

Attorney's Response:

 

eFax.com is owned by, J2 Global, Inc., HQ in Los Angeles California. The customer agreement contains very specific terms and conditions, among them:

1. Jurisdiction for all disputes is Los Angeles County Superior Court, or U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

2. All disputes must be subject to binding arbitration, except that either party may sue in Los Angeles County Superior Court -- Small Claims Department (maximum recovery, $10,000).

3. In Sections 25-27 of the agreement, a customer must send notice of intent to arbitrate to the address provided; this will trigger a legal department response -- given the cost of arbitration for the corporation, it will probably refund your money, since you received practically no services.

4. You can also contact the California Department of Consumer Affairs (see Section 26). I have no idea if the DCA will actually get involved -- but, it's a legal option.

Note: Small Claims means California under the agreement, and there are no telephone hearings available. You could try to sue in [Your State]. But, even if you win, you would have to register the judgment in California and then try to collect.

Then I asked:

Okay, but do I have any recourse because of their "non-refundable" clause to which I may have inadvertently agreed. Chase Bank says that if I was informed, albeit in small print, they will not refund me. I was certainly not informed when their agent offered me what turns out to be a promotional product. All indications are that this company is more about ginning revenue than it is about providing fax services.

Lawyer’s Response

A contract provision stating that charges are nonrefundable for any reason amounts to an unenforceable contractual penalty. In effect, this is a liquidated damages clause that is not a reasonable approximation of the damages suffered by the vendor -- therefore, it is unenforceable.

Reason of review: Internet Fraud.

Monetary Loss: $60.

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