Defrauding small businesses with ads that won’t turn off
My Complaint: I am a small business owner. In January of 2019 I placed ads with Facebook for my business and discontinued them as of April 31st because FB’s alleged results were suspect and did not match the results documented by Google and my company website analytics. I was billed automatically by FB and paid with my CapitalOne business card. When I decided to discontinue the ad campaigns, I turned them off directly on the FB website as per their directions by flipping the off switch that stops the advertisements from running. A FB consultant who worked with me on the ad campaigns noticed several days later that the ads were still running and called to tell me so. She swore that she had turned off all the ads and did not know why they were continuing to run. I had revoked all permissions for her to function as a consultant in early April, so it was impossible for her to have incurred any additional charges on my behalf. I went into the FB ad system myself, found that the ad switches had all been turned back on, and turned everything off once again. I did this multiple times over the next few months.
Each time I turned off the ads, they mysteriously turned on again. I tried to stop the charges, but there is no way to turn off automatic billing on FB ads or switch to manual billing, so my credit card was automatically charged over and over again for ads that I knew I had turned off. No one else had access to my account. There are only 2 possible conclusions I can come to:
1.FB has a significant bug/glitch in their software system that does not consistently register changes to ad campaigns and/or automatically turns them back on after they have been turned off, and/or
2.FB is involved in fraudulent, deceptive and criminal behavior and is outright cheating their customers, expecting they will give up attempts to fight bogus charges and simply pay the fees because they are too difficult and time-consuming to dispute.
Either way, this is an unacceptable business practice.
When I contested the charges, FB?s response to CapitalOne was to send them a standard scripted document stating that no attempt had been made by me to turn off the ads. This would only make sense if there was an undocumented glitch in their system. I am here to tell you that the ads were indeed turned off multiple times and I would be happy to provide an additional affidavit from my consultant confirming her unsuccessful attempt at turning them off as well. For Facebook to simply say that the ads had not been turned off and offer it as irrefutable proof is at the center of this issue. I?m telling you that the mechanism for turning the ads off did not work, no matter what they claim. I worked as a systems programmer in the computer industry for fifteen years, and I can guarantee you that programming errors do occur in such systems, and quite often. Assuming that this was an innocent mistake on their part, Facebook should be more concerned with fixing their system?s bugs than insisting that the mistake lied with me, their customer. Talk about awful customer service!
I tried to close my FB business account entirely and remove my credit card information from their website, but Facebook did not permit me to do this. I sent FB an email saying that ?I am very frustrated and seriously considering deleting all of my FB pages. My business account keeps getting charged for things I didn?t authorize?. I never received the courtesy of a response from them.
My company has been in business since 2010 and is in excellent standing with the business community. We are known for our stellar customer service. In contrast, Facebook is notoriously difficult to deal with because there is no direct customer service support, and there is no way to reach them by phone. The FB phone number I was given by CapitalOne is a recorded message that says there is no telephone support. The only mechanism for asking questions or requesting clarification from them is through an online email submission system that is haphazard at best. Having used it on multiple occasions, I can tell you that submitting questions in this way usually results in receiving a generic scripted response that generally has nothing to do with the questions asked. I noticed recently that FB has created a new support inbox mechanism, but it does not deal with complaints or disputed charges. When you search their website for ways to dispute charges it comes up empty or sends you to a page that is no longer active. After you submit an online correspondence FB does not notify you if/when they finally do post a response to your question even though they certainly have my email address and are capable of doing so. When you search for ways to connect with FB, you get a page with a link to another page telling you that the page is not available. The inbox mechanism, along with the rest of FB, changes frequently. Their business ad site is full of contradictions, dead-ends and is ridiculously difficult to navigate.
CapitalOne refuses to deal with my claim because they say they need a printed ad cancellation notice from FB as proof of the cancellation. However, FB does not issue cancellation notices to their customers, nor do they send invoices to confirm ad subscriptions, so it would seem that we are at an impasse and stuck in a catch-22. In the meantime they continue to charge me for running ads.
FYI, a local news station here recently carried a story about a man who was charged over $500,000.00 in FB ads that he claimed he never authorized. He took FB to court at great personal expense. This can be the kiss of death to a small business like mine. The story was carried by BusinessWeek and is an excellent example of FB defrauding their customer base. There are countless stories online about FB cheating their customers and I have saved several as proof that I am not alone in this catch-22. Their behavior is unconscionable. I will no longer do business with FB and will remove my business pages from their website once this issue has been resolved, because doing so right now would result in me not being able to access any documentation that exists.
It would seem that FB has become too large to fail, even though countless complaints have been lodged against them regarding fraudulent practices that include the unauthorized sale of customer data to 3rd parties. They need to be called out on these atrocities and stopped.
I am now being charged thousands of dollars in advertising that was properly cancelled. What recourse do I have and how do I go about getting results?
My Demand: Rescind the charges