Friday, October 3, 2008

MileyWorld.com: Miley Cyrus' website scam

**NOTE: There are now 3 updates added to the end of this post. The latest update occurred on January 26, 2009**

I'm pissed off.

Last September, my youngest daughter begged me to let her join up on Miley Cyrus' website, "Miley World." Membership allowed you access to games and newsletters and fan info about Miley, who plays the popular Hannah Montana. I relented, and within a couple of days, my daughter totally lost interest in the site.

In the months that followed, Cyrus was involved in a number of controversies that tainted her "wholesome" image, including a topless photo shoot for Vanity Fair, a pregnancy rumor, and a number of risque pictures leaked online that Cyrus snapped herself. I was glad that my daughter lost interest in the mediocre actress/singer, and didn't give the Miley World site another thought.

Until yesterday, that is, when I opened my credit card bill and found a charge for $29.95 from Miley World. It was labeled as an "Auto Renewal". I immediately went to the website to try and contact them, but--surprise!--there is no way to email them directly without logging in first. I had to request the Username and Password (long since forgotten) and finally managed to access the site and fill out a "customer service ticket" to ask for assistance.

They wrote back to inform me that they DO NOT GIVE REFUNDS. Supposedly, they send out an email 30 days before automatically renewing your membership, and if you don't go to the site, navigate through your profile and unclick "Auto Renew", they will hit your credit card.

The problem is: I never got any email from them, and was completely unaware of the charge until it hit my bill. Their response? Too bad. No refunds. No exceptions. Thanks for being a fan of Miley World!!

I am incredulous over this. The fact that they have such a staunch "no refunds" policy tells me that they must screw people over so often with the auto-renewal, they just don't give a crap anymore.

I am filing complaints with the FTC and the Internet Crime Complaint Center. This website is guilty of internet fraud, and must be stopped.

For anyone reading this who experienced a similar issue, I now have their direct email address: support@mileyworld.com Quite a misnomer there, since the LAST thing they do is support people.

I'll keep you updated as this unfolds. In the meantime, I'm calling the credit card company and putting the $29.95 in dispute, and reporting their sorry asses to the Powers That Be. Wish me luck!


Trashy Miley Cyrus, owner of a Scamming Website


*******************UPDATE #1*******************

As you can see in the comment section of this post, I have received many comments from folks who also fell victim to this Miley World auto-renewal scam. At the suggestion of one commenter (Peg), I opened a case file with the Better Business Bureau in Tennessee, which is the location handling the complaints for this company.

You can lodge your complaint quickly and easily ONLINE, and it only takes a few minutes of your time. Be sure to provide as much info as you can, including the dates of your correspondence, the amount you want refunded to you, and your account number at Miley World.

I will post an update if and when this matter gets resolved. Good luck, everyone!

TO LODGE A COMPLAINT, CALL OR VISIT THE WEBSITE BELOW:

BBB of Middle Tennessee
(Nashville, TN)
201 Fourth Ave. North, Ste. 100
Nashville, TN 37203-3984
Phone: (615)242-4222
Fax: (615)250-4245
Email: bbbnash@aol.com

Web: http://www.middletennessee.bbb.org



*******************UPDATE #2*******************
They agreed to issue me a full refund!

***************UPDATE#3*************************
Well, it's now January, 2009, and the comments and emails just keep pouring in from readers who have had similarly bad experiences with MileyWorld. The latest email comes from Leslie, regarding a photo contest hosted by the site. I told Leslie that I would relay her story here, in the event that others are having the same problem.

Leslie writes:

"My child begged to join MileyWorld to enter a contest to meet Miley. Once on the site we learned she would need to submit a 1 minute video. She spent her savings to purchase a camera to video record herself for the entry. By the terms listed on the site the contest was suppose to end Oct 31st and the winner was to be announced no later than Dec 31, 2008. The site never posted any information and continued to accept new entrants into the contest. My daughter contacted them by email as did I and the response was vague. They stated they were attempting to give everyone a chance to enter and did not know when the contest would end. They continued to have the same dates posted on the site and never posted that the contest had been extended. Just recently they revised the dates to end the contest Jan 2009. My daughter and I now feel that the contest is not legitimate. She is so crushed. I am upset I feel they took advantage of my daughter and tens of thousands of other children. She has not picked up that camera since. She wasted her money on a fraud.

I contacted the site with a more stern email and was told that the only thing they were willing to do is give my daughter 30 more days free membership to the site. "No thanks". I have contacted the BBB and the Consumer Protections Agency in Nashville with complaints."


Leslie is upset that the site did not inform subscribers of the change to the contest rules and deadlines. As the revised January 31st deadline approaches, we'll be keeping an eye on this to see if the contest closes, or is extended yet again. Stay tuned.

33 comments:

Bob K said...

You are right, that site is a scam. They did the same to us. They changed the settings on the accounts to automatic renewal and charged us for a whole new year. This is not the first time they have had bad press, the ticket sales were also a scam.

James said...

They got me too! - "Auto-Renew"!

I will also contact the agencies you listed above. Keep us posted and thank you in advance.

cynde said...

This happened to us also. We got auto renewed, when I did not have that box checked. We did not receive any earlier email. But on the day I got our charge bill is when for the first time in months that we also got a Mileyworld email. I have been going round and round with customer service (big joke there). But when I went into our profile I noticed other things wrong that I knew when I opened the account were right, so I am starting to wonder if they aren't going into profiles and changing things. From what I heard memebership are really low. If people aren't renewing they just might be making it happen themselves at Mileyworld.

J said...

We are dealing with this same problem. We did not agree to auto renew, we were not notified prior to the charge, nor instructed on how to cancel. We found the charge on our credit card statement, tried calling the number provided on the statement and by the BBB, but only got recordings. We retrieved our password and sent a support ticket, but it was unanswered. Later emails to the support email, which we had to find by looking for complaints online, were answered with a reply that we did not ask in a timely manner (within 14 days). WE CALLED IN UNDER 14 DAYS, BUT YOU WOULDN'T ANSWER THE PHONE. The BBB is useless, because the company stands by their response. We have filed a dispute with the credit card company and are about to call the Attorney General's office. If anyone has luck, please post. Good luck.

Lisa Yak said...

Incredible. Still no word on this yet, but I think it's time to get the news media involved. "7 On Your Side" here I come.

Anonymous said...

Same thing - the charge was on my credit card statement and when I tried to cancel I could not. The only reason I signed my daugher up was to try to get tickets last year. Now she can care less about Miley Cyrus and I still have to pay $29.95.

me2you46 said...

Hi, I've been hit with the automatic renewal too. When my daughter remembered her user name and password (she has not used the site since we attended a concert last December) I went in and checked out the credit information and we were listed as residing in Oregon; however, we live in RI. I think it is a scam. I've contact my credit card company to dispute the charge, sent Mileyworld a pretty angry email and plan on contacting my state's Attorney General's office to see if this is legal. Like the rest of you I did not receive an email. I still think she is a young lady with talent and my daughter still likes her and her music but this website scam is just ridiculous. I have a feeling credit card companies and mileyworld's great support team :} will be inundated with mail or calls from very upset consumers. "Ya think?" Very bad PR for Miley Cyrus.

l said...

Hey Lisa same EXACT situation here. Mileyworld wont issue me a refund and NO renewal reminder email was sent to either my email or my daughters.
Mileyworld was a scam from day one when we signed on to get presale privileges which we never did get.
Im going to check into filing an internet fraud complaint as you mentioned and i'll be checking back in here to see if you had any luck.
Good Luck (ps my names lisa too)

Lisa Yak said...

Incredible that they are still getting away with this.

I'm going to step up my efforts to draw attention to this scam. Stay tuned!

Stacey/Raleigh said...

Wow! This happened to me also. I keep all of my deleted emails and nothing came from Miley in the past 6 months and I know I checked to NOT auto-renew.

Meredith said...

The same exact thing happened to me, and I am getting the runaround from their "customer support". I have demanded a phone number to contact someone, and they keep ignoring my requests, standing by their "no refunds after 14 days" policy. They claim that they give the 14-day window as a courtesy, but I complained to them that since they do not send a receipt, we don't know they charge our credit cards until we receive our statement and attempt to disput it. They keep quoting their policies and won't budge. They should be ashamed. Please post an update it you make any progress with complaints, and I plan to research who I can complain to as well that may be more effective than BBB.

Peg said...

Hi everyone. Just thought I share some positive news. The same thing happened to us in early October. We exchanged the same frustrating emails with Mileyworld and decided to file a complaint with the BBB. We disputed Mileyworld's initial response to our complaint and have been waiting to hear back from the BBB. But just today we received an email from Mileyworld indicating that even though they're standing behind their policy they are issuing a refund. So, just stick with it. Hold your ground. I'm sure if your like us, it's a matter of principle as we've all lost 1,000xs more than the lousy $30 in the stock market recently. Good luck.

Lisa Yak said...

Peg, that's EXCELLENT news!

Still haven't heard back from the agencies I've contacted, but will continue to pursue this!

Peg said...

Lisa, I'm not sure how we became so lucky with this so quickly since we just filed the complaint with the BBB on 10/16. I was prepared for a long frustrating battle.

If it helps, I'm willing to share my language on the complaint and/or follow up communications to those that are still stuck - just email me. Thanks.

Lisa Yak said...

I just lodged a complaint online with the BBB, as Peg suggested. I am going to update my blog entry to provide the contact info for the Better Business Bureau that handles these Miley World complaints, for those of you who wish to pursue it further.

Good luck everyone, and thanks again, Peg! I'll let you know how this gets resolved.

Lisa Yak said...

HEY FOLKS,

Here it is, 4 hours later, and I heard back from MileyWorld.com.

They are issuing me a refund!

Thank you, Peg!

Peg said...

Hey Lisa,

Great news for you too! However, it's been just about four days since Mileyworld's email and have yet to get the credit issued back onto my card??!! I'm remaing hopeful though. (Yes We Can! ;)

Thought I'd share their latest response to the BBB though - pretty funny:

"Member had to check the box during signup that they had read the terms and conditions and agreed to them. We also e-mailed renewal reminders 30 days and again 10 days prior to renewal with instructions on cancelling.
I have refunded this member as a courtesy and please notify that they can keep the DVD and member packet with our compliments."

What part of I HAVE NOT RECEIVED EMAIL SINCE 1/08 didn't they understand. Now they add the 10 day notice too. Let them say what they want, just give me my money back. I'll let you know how long it takes for the refund.

Thanks and have a good night.

Peg

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened with me. My daughter did the free trail and and I canceled it days in advance and checked off do not auto-renew and BAM it was on my card. It was a debit card so I called my bank and said I had to file a report with the police station and then a affidavit so I did all that!! I will now report it to the BBB, I was told by my bank I have to report it to the BBB in there state will on my account it says FL??? Where do I file it and HOW DID YOU GET A REFUND from them? I have been going back and forth with mileyworld and they keep saying no refund and to ENJOY MILEY WORLD! Sorry...I cant even stand to see her in the stores or hear her music now, It is all the point, like they dont have enough money and have to take it from us, I needed that for a bill too. Made me SO MAD!!

Lisa Yak said...

I filed the complaint with the BBB in TN because that's where the main headquarters is for Miley World.

I am waiting for my credit card statement to confirm that the refund has been issued. I've heard from a couple of others who were scammed, and they all agreed, PERSISTENCE is the key!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Someone should send this to the news media (but not ABC!). I think I will. I had the same situation with me. Joined fanclub, to buy tickets, of which I was denied access because of where I live (too far away from concert). Was sent documentation to join class action suit, choose not to. Now, the riduculous auto renew situation. I did not receive email either. Same story. Infuriating! NOT a fan of Miley Cyrus or her people!

Anonymous said...

I ended up contacting the BBB over a week ago and still haven't heard anything....? Should it take this long?

Lisa Yak said...

To tell you the truth, the BBB still has not gotten back to me! What I did was write to MileyWorld's customer service department and give them my BBB case number. I also told them I'd be filing a class action lawsuit if the BBB wasn't able to secure the refund.

After that, they decided to give me my money back. Still not sure if it's hit my credit card account though.

Anonymous said...

YAH!!!! I heard back from them today! Thank you BBB!!! They said if I return the member packet (which I nevered opened) they will refund my money!!! YAHHHHHH



If you are trying to get a refund and get the packet in the mail do NOT open it. I was one who did the free trial and canceled it in time but they still renewed it after I asked them not to.

Alli said...

This didnt happen to me. I am a Fan, and i got my name last year around now. And i was able to get tickets, i won a signed guitar hero guitar, and ive talked to her numerous times on mileychat. so i guess some people dont have luck. sorry.

BriBri1130 said...

I think that it's crap that we have to pay to join Miley World anyways. Isn't Miley Cyrus and her family rich enough already?! I don't think she deserves a single penny from her "Hannah Money" when she is what, 18, 21? I'm not sure. Miley World looks like a TOTAL SCAM. I'm sure that I would get bored with the freakin' site within a day! DON'T JOIN MILEY WORLD!

Pete said...

Thank you for this blog. They ripped me off too. Here is the complaint I filed with the BBB:

I have to cancel my credit card to stop this abuse. I have spent hours researching this matter, filing this complaint, and emailing them to no avail. They should refund the charges, write me a letter of apology, and pay for the hours I have spent and the inconvenience they have subjected me too having to cancel my credit card. I think a $500 dollar settlement would be appropriate.

They should also change their deceptive practices, and post an apology on their website. If all these requirements are met, I will consider this matter closed.

Maryanne said...

Yes, they caught me too! They charged me for another year, even though my daughter hasn't been on since her first time when we initially joined.
There are discrepancies in my account info too. It says my renewal date is April 09, even though they charged me in Feb 09. Also has the wrong state in there. And thinking I would automatically check off "renew me automatically" is laughable.
Has anyone ever considered a class action lawsuit??? It seems like there are plenty of people who have been scammed like this...

Catherine said...

Can you believe this is still happening, can the BBB do something about making Miley's world stop this practice? I was just charged 59.90 for a renewal on my daughters subscription and a gift subscription for a friend of hers. It is incredible that this is still happening. I thank you for the link to the BBB.

jennifer said...

Well, it is September 2009 and I JUST got my Credit card statement and found the charge...went to the miley website to get my money back just to find o ut I can't/// And then I find this site to see it has been happening for about a year with people getting hit up like this!!!! I too NEVEr got their email...funny thing is, on their site you click on "how to turn off auto renew" and all it says is "you should have gotten enail saying we wer going to do it and that was your chance to undo it..." then it says to make sure you get their emails by turning off your spam blockers and allowing their email to get through..guess what...I have NO spam blockers and I still NEVER got an email from them! Thank GOD for your website cause I am about to contact the BBB and I will file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commision (http://www.ftc.gov/)....

jennifer said...

ok...i went to the bbb website that you gave us, but they want a zip code for the business....i don't know it and can't find one searching on internet. Can you help...also, i noticed when you are at the mileyworld website, at the bottom they have a link that says "BBB- accredited business"...I thought WOW how is that possible...so I clicked on it and it took me to the BBB in Florida where it said "This business IS NOT a BBB Accredited Business." I called the BBB and let them know that this site is misrepresenting their status with the BBB to consumers. They were not happy and are on it at this very moment.

Karla said...

I have been trying to get a reimburse for the auto-renew membership, first they asked me to send the annual package back. I did, but still no reimburse. They keep telling me that they won't charge again, I am disputing the charge through the credit card I paid with, I hope this way I finally get my money back. I can not believe they scam kids and parents like this!

Nathan said...

They did this auto-renew scam to me, too. I put a stop on any payments to them from my credit card. VISA will track and do some punishment to merchants with multiple complaints, so please call your credit card and complain. I see that they are using AMAZON cloud services. I may try to contact AMAZON.com to get them to revoke their web hosting.

Nathan said...

I had the same awful auto-renew experience...and no reply from their support service. I also am angered that they do not appear to allow me to get them to relinquish my credit card info. I put a block on payments to them through my credit card company. The credit card company security dept will work with VISA. If VISA receives multiple complaints, they will discipline the merchant, so contact your credit card company.

I see they use amazon cloud services for some aspects of their web hosting. I may try to contact AMAZON.com and asking them to cease providing services to this company.