The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about gift cards sent by a wholesale mother and baby product distributor.
Jenny Eisenhuth of Maryland received a card congratulating here on her pregnancy and full of gift cards and coupons for baby products with a receipt that made it look like someone had purchased them for her. But Eisenhuth is not having a baby.
“It's from ThoughtfulGiftCards.com and it lists out the five gift cards which total $245,” she said.
The card was signed Jenny B and looked like the return address label fell off the envelope.
“I definitely did not know a Jenny B.,” she said.
She said she felt bad someone spent the money on her.
“And I actually sent a video of everything I got to some of my friends, and two of them said, 'Oh yeah, my friend got it. It’s a scam,'” Eisenhuth said.
It’s not a scam, but a marketing campaign by Mothers Lounge, which operates about 20 websites selling products for babies and mothers.
“The Better Business Bureau has given Mothers Lounge an F rating,” said Kelsey Coleman of the BBB.
The BBB questions the tactics used by Mothers Lounge to make these cards look like they were sent by a friend, including the markings on the envelope to make it appear the return address label fell off and the ink smudges on the inside of the card, which is actually printed and not handwritten.
“The Better Business Bureau does think that is part of their tactic into getting people to think, ‘Oh, this is coming from a friend and I will use the gift card, now,’” Coleman said.
The gift cards and coupons work, but typically bring the total below the required spending for free shipping.
“So there's no real savings or benefit of using the gift card when the shipping is now going up, and so that's what the Better Business Bureau classifies as deceptive advertising,” Coleman said.
News4 ordered items off three of the sites using the gift cards and coupons. After applying the codes, only one site, Canopy Couture, offered free shipping.
The shipping on our three free pacifiers started at $13.99, and the cheapest shipping option for pregnancy and nursing pillows was about $20.
Mothers Lounge said it does not participate in false or deceitful advertising and the gift cards are real and work exactly as advertised.
Mothers Lounge said everyone who received one of the cards had at some point subscribed to an opt-in list for maternity deals and coupons through a third-party marketing company.
Eisenhuth doesn’t remember doing that.
“My cousin was pregnant, and I had purchased a couple of things on Amazon and some diapers at Walmart, but that's it,” she said.
Mothers Lounge did not divulge the name of the third-party marketing company.