$500 free sunglasses offer … not quite so “free”

Sunglasses from Red Star World Wear

Sunglasses from Red Star World Wear

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How would you like to receive $500 worth of free high-end sunglasses?

The offer sounded pretty tempting to Amanda Ferrin from Thornton — and hundreds of women who took part in the “Tri’ for the Cure” race last year.

It became FOX31 Denver Investigative Reporter Heidi Hemmat’s job to find out “What’s the catch?”

The $500 gift card looks legitimate, and if you read the back, it makes it pretty clear that you will pay for postage and handling.

But what it doesn’t tell you is that you might receive more so-called “free sunglasses” in the mail. The problem is that they really come with a price.

This came to light for Amanda Ferrin after she found the valuable gift card in her “goodie bag” after she participated in the swimming, biking and running race that raised money to help find a cure for breast cancer.

“It said $500 of free sunglasses,” Ferrin said.

The gift card was from Red Star World Wear. “They say they are $200 to $300 glasses.”

Ferrin went to the Red Star website and ordered four pair, and she agreed to pay a 9-percent shipping and handling fee — about $50 — which she put on her credit card. “I was okay with that cost,” she said.

She thought the free sunglasses deal was a little shady, but said  “I didn’t feel ripped off at that point.”

She didn’t think it was a scam until a year later when more “free sunglasses” started arriving in the mail.

The note that came with them said, “Enjoy. Enclosed are your complimentary premium sunglasses.”

That’s when Ferrin realized Red Star World Wear had charged her credit card $20 three different times.”I feel completely ripped off.”

She tried to call the company, but there was no phone number listed on their website. She emailed a representative who told her: “When you placed your first order, there was a paragraph asking if you would like to receive emails and two pairs of glasses approximately every 2-3 months for $19.80.”

Ferrin insists she never signed up for more sunglasses.

She’s not alone. Dozens of consumers have filed online complaints alleging the same thing, and many say they are still waiting for refunds.

FOX31 Denver’s Heidi Hemmat sent an email to Red Star World Wear explaining she was looking into their company.

Company John Hamilton called her right away. He admitted some people don’t read the fine print and don’t realize they have to “un-check” a box in order not to be charged for additional sunglasses.

“Some people don’t realize that they are on it and then they call and we cancel it right away,” Hamilton said.

He also said they had recently changed their website to make it more clear, and he refunded Amanda Ferrin’s money while they were still on the phone.

Ferrin doesn’t want other consumers left in the dark. “Thankfully, I was able to get my money back thanks to you guys.”

She believes this free offer is more than meets the eyes. “I don’t want to see people being taken advantage of like that.”

If you see a free offer and wonder “What’s the Catch?” Just send us an email at tips@kdvr.com.

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