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Caveat Emptor: APS Billing (for

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    Caveat Emptor: APS Billing (for

    We've all known the day would come when the "respectable" martial arts succumbed to the pressure and became the same ruthless, unscrupulous merchandising and marketing machines that we typically associate with Shaolin-Do, Om-Young Do and others of their ilk. It's a shame that such a story has to trump Gannon's victory over Kimbo Slice, but the leader decreed it.

    Recently I learned that I am being charged 9.99 a month for some newsletter through It is being done through a third-party billing company.

    I called the billing company to inquire about the charges, which were not described, and was told that it was for a subscription to's e-newsletter. After that call, I went to to register for the e-newsletter under a different email address, and there was no mention of billing, there was just a confirmation email to which I had to reply in order to finalize registration.

    I called the billing company back again, and asked to confirm with the representative that I was being billed by and that it was for a newsletter. She wouldn't tell me who was charging me, and told me it was a "Karate school". I told her again I wanted to confirm the company on whose behalf they were billing me. She directed me to the voicemail of the last person I spoke to.

    Not satisfied, I called back, and got the first person again. I told her that the newsletter registration didn't mention charges and required no information for registration other than an email address. She told me that they had my credit card information, so obviously I did register.

    Of course, I ordered a book from them some time ago, and that was directly through them.

    Using their checkout, I found a spot that offered a "Free-One Month Trial" of the newsletter. Which is odd because I registered for it through a blind hotmail account just an hour earlier.

    The billing company, ASP told me I have to send them a snail mail letter in order to cancel.

    And furthermore, at's checkout it looks like they pull one of these:

    I do NOT want to receive a 1 month FREE trial membership to Jiu-Jitsu.Net's eNewsletter and Discount List.

    What Do I Get? Regular subscription is $9.99 per month. You will automatically remain subscribed unless you contact us to cancel after your free month.
    Total charges to my account by my hasty estimate? $69.92.

    I should point out, I think I saw these charges before, but the billing company's initials, APS, made me think it was billing for a paper or something I might have ordered from the APSA, the American Political Science Association.

    I sent an email to Jiu-Jitsu.Net to complain, which was fruitless. I guess checking this one box should indicate I DON'T want to subscribe, while checking any of the others indicates that I DO want the item in question. And of course, they use small print to protect our tender little eyes from harm, and not to minimize the fact that you are going to be regularly charged for a newsletter and a "discount" that has cost me nearly seventy dollars so far.

    I responded to their mealy-mouthed apologies with this:

    This is unacceptable. I have been charged, by my hasty estimate, nearly seventy dollars. I'm a hand-to-mouth university student, and would never have agreed to sign over ten dollars a month for a newsletter.

    Your fine print notice is in bad faith. You know very well what you're doing. This tactic I thought, was
    reserved to pornographers. Those deliberate opt-out tactics are widely considered to be shady and
    deceptive. I shouldn't be charged for something I did not choose myself, and which you merely embedded into your checkout page. I had no idea I would have to be so wary around otherwise respectable retailers.

    I am contesting the charges with my bank, as I have quite deliberately been tricked.
    Last edited by The Wastrel; 11/16/2004 1:44pm, .

    I hate it when they do that. You might be able to do something wih the consumer sales act.

    You're argument is that there was no meeting of the minds. (not mistake, because you need mutual mistake, not unilateral mistake.)




        Originally posted by Repulsive Monkey
        Good idea.


          The fact of the matter is that has increasing clout in the MA world--at the very least through sheer numbers. If someone fucks with one of our own, they should feel it.


            Amen. If I visited that site...I wouldn't now!
            And that's when I figured out that tears couldn't make somebody who was dead alive again. There's another thing to learn about tears, they can't make somebody who doesn't love you any more love you again. It's the same with prayers. I wonder how much of their lives people waste crying and praying to God. If you ask me, the devil makes more sense than God does. I can at least see why people would want him around. It's good to have somebody to blame for the bad stuff they do. Maybe God's there because people get scared of all the bad stuff they do. They figure that God and the Devil are always playing this game of tug-of-war game with them. And they never know which side they're gonna wind up on. I guess that tug-of-war idea explains how sometimes, even when people try to do something good, it still turns out bad.


              Well, it should be broader than that. If someone fucks with their customers...


                You're right. But its always funnier to incite fervent nationalism.

                In any case, we may want to sticky a list of dodgy business practices, etc. that fall outside of typical MdDojo territory.


                  Also, I would argue, that there was no valid offer to accept. Throw in that the whole thing is unconscionable. If you can use the consumer sales practice act you get atty fees and treble damages. Title 5 rings a bell.

                  I had a problem similar to this with AOL many years ago when I first was scoping out internet providers. I used their disk for their "50 hours free" thing and used the program once, determined it sucked, and moved on. I didn't cancel and they tried to bill me. I fired them off a letter, threatening to sue them. I also contested the charge with my credit card.

                  I won with suprisingly minimal effort.


                    Originally posted by Mr_Mantis
                    Also, I would argue, that there was no valid offer to accept. Throw in that the whole thing is unconscionable.
                    That's a good point. Who charges ten dollars a month for a "discount"?


                      I love this quote in your email to them:

                      "This tactic I thought, was reserved to pornographers."

                      Well...I can see where they got that tactic, since his videos ( have the following info on the bottom of the page:

                      "Directed by Former Penthouse Executive Director, Nicholas Guccione"


                        I'm trying to run down the complete Consumer Sales Act. Any ideas?


                          This was an e-newsletter? Something that most sites offer as a free update/service?



                            Tell ASP that if you don't get credit for this malicous and underhand way of billing, you are going staright to Visa USA and charging back.

                            Will work all the time.


                              What Anthony said.

                              Those billing places HATE chargebacks because if they get enough that means that the CC companies like Visa will start chargeing them more. So they'll give your money back in the next day or two rather than deal with it.



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