A fitness program run by social media celebrity Ashy Bines has been accused of deleting negative comments on social media from disgruntled users who say they’ve been continually charged for cancelled subscriptions.
Bines, who has over 3 million followers across social mediums, runs popular fitness programs “Booty Challenge” and “12-week Bikini Challenge”, which provides subscribers videos, nutrition plans, and workouts for US$7.70 ($10.21) a month.
However, a number of users who have signed up for one of Bines’ programs have taken to social media to complain about continuous charges to their bank accounts after cancelling their subscriptions.
Diana, a subscriber to Bines Booty Challenge program and “The Life” online service, told Fairfax after joining the program in May, she decided to cancel immediately.
“When I joined in May I decided to cancel the same day, and I received confirmation that I would not incur any further charges,” Diana said.
But four months later, Diana said she found four US$30 US had been directly debited from her account, despite receiving a confirmation that her subscription had been cancelled.
“I contacted her support and they put me in a queue…So I decided to write to her on Instagram, and so many girls replied with the same experience…but the comments were deleted very quickly,” she said.
Bines’ subscription packages allow access to online forums for users of Bines’ workout plans, but Diana found she lost access to forums she had paid separately for.
Multiple users have taken to websites such as ProductReview.com.au to leave negative reviews for the service and have claimed signing up for one of Bines’ services automatically signs them up for her “The Life” program.
The program offers a trial period for 1 cent for the first four weeks, increasing to US$29.95 per month after that.
“Avoid the scam of signing up for the $0.01 The Life program. The actual fees are not explained anywhere and all that happens is they take $23.80 USD each month from your account and it takes forever to get them to cancel it. They only communicate through emails and it takes multiple correspondences to get them to even agree to cancel it,” wrote one customer on ProductReview.
“Once paying $10 for the booty program they then continue to take a monthly payment of $40 for the life membership. Nowhere did it state that you would be charged a monthly payment when setting up the account,” wrote another.
Ashy Bines Booty Challenge has not responded to SmartCompany’s request for comment, but has provided a comment to The Gold Coast Bulletin.
“When someone signs up to take part in Ashy Bines’ optional ‘The Life’ program, they are provided with a free 28-day trial. It is clearly stated in our terms and conditions, that if subscribers to our free 28-day trial wish to cancel this, they simply email [email protected] and their subscription is cancelled immediately without delay,” the spokesperson said.
“If this is completed prior to the free 28-day trial, there is no charge. If this happens after the free 28-day trial, they are charged for the first month.”
Dealing with backlash on social media
Nicole Reaney, director at InsideOut PR, told SmartCompany if Diana’s claims about the deleted comments are accurate, it is the wrong way for the business to go about dealing with the complaints.
“Some brands do make the mistake of deleting comments, but it’s always best to approach customers transparently,” Reaney says.
“That way other unhappy consumers can see what’s transpiring, and you have more control over the backlash.”
Reaney says issues involving overcharging accounts and customers losing money often prompt fierce backlash for consumers, saying it can be attributed to the rise of direct debiting.
But as to how to deal with the backlash, Reaney says it depends on the size of the incident.
“If it’s just a few customers, message them directly to sort out the problems, but make sure to still show people that you’re handling any issues,” she says.
“It’s always best to be on the front foot when it comes to customer complaints.”