All Business, Good & Bad

Sometimes, an awful consumer experience. Let's call them out. Okay, mostly. But sometimes awards. Yes? All the accounts are truthful. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty alike. Email me with your stories and I'll include them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Proactiv Solution - Good and Bad

About 4 weeks ago, I ordered the 3-piece Proactiv Solution comprising of the cleanser, astringent, and lotion. As a man of slightly over 30, I realized several years ago that when they told us in high school that skin problems usually drop off for men around 20 that they were fucking lying. I'm by no means a pizza face, but have always had a couple small blemishes on a regular basis. Time to make them go away.

The Good
Proactiv Solution is amazing! After a little fine-tuning (I only use it once a day and add supplementary moisturizer to avoid excessive dryness), my skin is perfect and has been so for over a week. Not a spot or blemish or hint of such. Yay!

The Bad
Proactiv Bleached Shirt

Note to Proactiv: If your product bleaches fabric, you might want to mention that someplace other than in the absurdly small print under the directions label that's virtually impossible to remove, let alone read. I lost 2 shirts and a towel in the first couple days.

The Ugly
Today I noticed my bank account was overdrawn. Why? You guessed it: Proactiv took it upon themselves to - without notification - ship me more product and charge my card which is attached to my account.

When I signed up, there was no language or any warning that I was joining a recurring subscription. When I called customer service, they explained that "it says on the internet" that I was creating an account and that constituted a membership.

Okay, maybe, but I have a membership to half a dozen email newsletters; I have a membership to Web MD; I have a membership to Technorati. These things cost me nothing. The point I'm making is that in the world of quick internet sign-ups, the word "membership" can and often does mean nothing more than "now you have a login to our site and we might sell your email address."

There is nothing implicit or explicit in the meaning of the word to imply that they would charge me automatically for more product. And genuine give-a-shit-ness for the customer would at least warrant a notification email, a reminder that: hey, in a week, we're going to send that automatic shipment you signed up for whether or not you knew that for sure. Heck, they even allow you to manage exactly how long you would like between shipments.

Because of this, the statement must be made: Proactiv Solution engages in misleading and shady consumer practices. Be aware that your "membership" implies automatic shipments and charges without so much as a fart in your direction. No warning. No email. No regard. And it bleaches your clothes.

The Verdict
Proactiv Solution probably makes tons of money due to its shady practices, and I think that's what pisses me off the most. They don't need to. They have an amazing product that does exactly what they say it does: clears up blemished skin to near or at perfection.

So I'll write an official complaint to customer service. I'll point them to this blog. But I'll keep using the product, probably even keep the shipment they have in transit. Why not? It's an amazing product.

But Proactiv: why all the shady?

UPDATE: Since my primary post, I've received some great comments on the post. I've also seen a huge improvement in my red cheeks. A little background: I have keretosis pilaris rubri facii. The first two words mean that I get clogged-pore bumps on my upper arms and thighs. The second two words mean that it's the form of the skin disorder that causes ruddy cheeks. I've had noticeably red cheeks since I was a child and only now - at 32 - has Proactiv anti-flushed them to match the rest of my skin. A minor miracle.

Coming soon: Does Proactiv work on my arms? Watch out non-white clothing!

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  • At 7:18 PM, Anonymous proactiv team member and believer said…

    You're right, the club is bogus. You and how ever many other hundreds of people have lost a goodly amount of money to the 'shadiness'.

    However, there is an alternative. I work in a kiosk in the mall that sells strictly proactiv products. From the three piece system to moisturizers to scar lightening lotion to oil controls, we've got it all. It's run by a company call American Kiosk Management that gets its supply straight from guthy-renker. The price difference is really slim,(here it's only two dollars more) and you also get a free mask every time you buy a kit. (which is a 10 dollar value so it's more like paying 2 or 3 dollars for a 10 dollar product if you want to look at it that way. And the mask is excellent spot treatment so if you ever get one you can just sleep with it on that spot over night.)

    Here's the kiosk locater. Just click on your state and see if there's one near you. :) You also have the value of someone to talk to if you need any assistance. At least I always warn people of the bleaching stuff problem. It's ruined a towel of mine, too.

    happy searching. :)

  • At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You were lucky to only lose a couple of shirts and a towel. I wish I had been so lucky. My twenty something year old son has been using Proactiv for a while and it wasn't until recently that I figured out that all the bleached out spots on my sheets and towels and especially pillow cases was due to Proactiv. I thought somebody was being sloppy in the laundry room and leaving some kind of cleaning product in the room and the clothes had gotten on it.
    I recently renovated my master bathroom after 25 years and had saved enough to make it nicer than it had been. Imagine my horror when I went to clean the bathroom and wiped my beautiful new cream colored MARBLE countertop and found that it had spots and bottle rings all over it. The spots would not wipe off as this horrible stuff had actually etched through the finish and eaten right into the marble. I have had the marble company come in and found out that it cannot be repaired. I am furious. The counter is a few weeks old and had cost me $2000. Not only that but the same thing happened with the marble tiles on the floor and also a long drip that ate away the finish on one of my custom vanity doors. At the same time the new comforter and sheets that I just got for my son's bed were ruined after just 2 days.
    If this stuff can eat through a hard stone like marble and so easily bleach out fabric imagine what it does to the SKIN.
    The only warning reference that I found on the product was on the last page of the booklet that comes with the 3 piece kit and it only mentions that it should be kept away from colored carpet. The company has not responded to my many phone calls and e-mails other than to ask if I wanted more Proactiv. I am furious.

  • At 6:39 AM, Blogger Ricky Shambles said…

    last Anon -

    Holy smokes! I had no idea it could be so destructive. Thank you for the great information and best of luck in your quest to get some sort of answer from Proactiv. My only advice appears to be what you're already doing: get your story out at every place you can on the web and don't stop until you get a reply.

  • At 9:01 PM, Blogger kim said…

    I had a boyfriend that used proactiv. He ruined my bath towels and left me.

  • At 8:29 AM, Blogger Ricky Shambles said…

    kim, that makes me sad. but I guess someone who ruins your towels doesn't deserve you.

  • At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My daughter tried Proactiv but she broke out worse than without the product. She called to cancel in October and the October shipment was returned with the words CANCEL ACCOUNT written on box in permanent marker(black). In December she received another shipment and money taken from her bank account. Again product was sent back with cancel written on box. She is soldier in US Army and was deployed overseas, canceled the bank account they had on file. She is not due to come stateside before next year, so all mail is sent to my address. In February another shipment arrived and I was late returning it. Now they are turning her over to collection for $48.94 for a shipment they acknowledge they received. But it was late. They want to send more product because she has to pay the $48.94. I tried to explain that if the product causes her to breakout why would she want more of same, but it's like talking to the wall. I would like to know how many soldiers have had the same happen to them. Proactiv Solutions should be ashamed for these practices.
    H Richards

  • At 12:41 PM, Blogger Ricky Shambles said…

    The practices and danger of ruining expensive items are huge detractions, but the product keeps my face lovely. I'm still trying to balance the good and bad.

  • At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's kind of annoying. I happen to work at proactiv customer service, and I know it is a great product. I've been a rep for several companies, and it's the first time I don't have to lie through my teeth to the callers, but this stupid, misleading merchandising method they have only makes them look bad and it's a shame. I wish they would stop it, they really don't need it and I'm tired of irate costumers that admit the product worked and still insult you -.-;;

  • At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I sent an email to Proactiv customer service 8 days ago to cancel my account and did not receive a response (although the auto response stated I would receive a reply in 3-4 business days). I then called the customer service number which I wanted to avoid doing since I knew I would be "grilled." The rep told me the account was cancelled. Since I've read horror stories on problems canceling with this company I asked to a cancellation number. I was told I couldn't get one. I then asked for an email confirming cancellation and was told they couldn't send one. Huh?? I was then told that I would receive a letter in the regular mail confirming cancellation. This makes absolutely no sense since it is much more expensive and time-consuming to send a letter than an email. I sent an email to customer service confirming my cancellation so I will have proof for my credit card company if they send more product. I do NOT like this type of "customer service" and do not trust this company AT ALL.

  • At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Proactiv is a pathetic company that uses shady business practices. I would not recommend this company to my worst enemy. The product is ok but benzoyl peroxide is not the best thing for your skin, and obviously your clothing. Please AVOID AT ALL COSTS. I wish companies like this did not exist. They bill you for more product without notification and before you even need more. then they send you packages and you dont know how much they cost because they charge you in installments, fuck them.

  • At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is a third time that my credit card was charge without me authorizing the charges.
    Neither time I signed up for membership. I got one of those "special deals" in mail that said you can order once and that is it. It even said you need to call in to re-order if you would like to keep using the product. I decided to just keep the product and cancel the membership "I did not sign up for!!!" When I asked for confirmation number they could not give me one. They could not send me e-mail confirmation eiter. This was back in august. Today i had to call them back again because another charge appeared on my credit card. Apparently, there are three payments....all different amounts.
    I am done with them. This company is charging peoples's credit card without customers authorization...FRAUD...that's all I have to say.

    FYI: The reason why I did not want to reorder is that after using it for a week my face was covered with rash and it took me two weeks to get it back to normal.

  • At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have to disagree with the previous posts. If you actually read your paperwork that comes with your kit BEFORE, you will see that it states both issues mentioned. 1) use white towels as products may cause bleaching and 2) you are signing up for auto ship program at aprox. every 90 days and you can cancel any time. I am a new user myself but maybe because I am in my mid 40's (yes, adult acne set in out of no-where)!, I read everything including any fine print prior to ordering. I now use the kiosk to purchase my products so that I buy it when I need it-not when they feel I should be ready for it.

  • At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am the owner of a rental cabins and it took me forever to figure out why my pillowcases were getting discolored. I had purchased really nice sheet sets in woodsy colors and after one season they have all been turned different shades due to customers using proactive.

  • At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am the owner of a rental cabins and it took me forever to figure out why my pillowcases were getting discolored. I had purchased really nice sheet sets in woodsy colors and after one season they have all been turned different shades due to customers using proactive.

  • At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It does work for me. My body as well as my face, but after a few months I decided to quit. Proactiv made it very hard to return there last shipment and for me to get my money back, I finally had to call my bank to get my money back. Good product, bad business practices. Just keep that in mind when you purchase. Also to all those people out there who had your "bleached" clothes and towels, just us the product in the shower(unless your tub is another color than white). Otherwise just be kind of careful and your stuff will be fine.(or use white towels, they sell them cheap at all major markets!)

  • At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just had to have my card cancel and reissued because Proctiv Solutions kept charging it without my approval.

    I called the company four times and each time I was informed that the account(membership) was cancel and I would receive my credit. It never happen. I never agree to any membership. It was a one time purchase. I filed a consumer complaint with the BBB ... there was ober 1,100 from 2011 alone.

  • At 3:30 PM, Blogger Ricky Shambles said…

    Thanks all for your comments.

    Yes, the bleaching can be minimized by being careful, but the bleaching agent is most prominent in the repairing lotion which you are supposed to keep on overnight (or until your next wash), so that's why you get the bleached sheets and collars.

    Overall, the most comments come from the terrible business practices. Personally, when I told them to put it on hold for 6 months, I had no problem. If you like the product but not the process, they now have kiosks in many malls. If you go to their website, a link on the bottom says "Kiosk locator" and while more expensive, you can buy it on your schedule.

  • At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I see where you said about how you had red cheeks and how they went away, I have had pink cheeks for almost ten years, they arn't bumpy and i was just wondering if you thought that it might work for me. I have tried almost everything to get them to go away, I talked to my doctor and all he does is just hand me something new to try, but it never works he cant even tell me why my cheeks are pink. All he does is just make up things, I really want to know if that will help

    p.s if it does will i have to keep using it to keep them away?

  • At 10:19 AM, Blogger Ricky Shambles said…

    Your guess is as good as mine. I saw clearer skin within a few weeks and the red went away (or significantly lessened at least) in a couple months. I don't think I ever used it more than 3x per week and now maybe once a week (specifically for complexion), and the bright red cheeks I grew up with have never returned.

    If you don't want to get into the messy subscription world, look up online to see if there's a mall kiosk near you. Just discovered those a couple months ago. Little pricier, but no commitment.

  • At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That's ironic, so many of the comments saying they are having problems cancelling their accounts -- I can't seem to keep mine going!! For five years I had no problems, they billed my credit card, my shipments showed up. Then in February, I noticed I hadn't received a shipment in a few months. At this point, with five years of no problems under my belt, I wasn't really paying attention as to making sure I received shipments every two months. I checked my credit card statement and they hadn't billed my card since October. I phoned to see what happened and the rep said the account had been cancelled and he couldn't tell why. He asked if I wanted to reorder but at this point I was out of product and I was heading out of province for a few weeks and there's a kiosk in the mall where I was going, so I was just going to buy some and then reorder when I got home. Once I got home, I reordered in April. At the end of May I noticed I still hadn't received the first shipment. I phoned and the rep said it had been shipped back to them. I never even received it! I check my mailbox daily. They said they would resend. I ended up receiving the full two month shipment before the starter pack came. Whatever. I received one more full shipment in August. September I checked my credit card statement and they didn't charge my card again! My account was cancelled, for no reason, AGAIN!!!!! I ended up emailing customer service and they told me that it was cancelled and gave me this long blurb about reordering. I said no, explained I have been a customer six years and having my account cancelled twice in a year with no explanation is frustrating and asked what they could do for me. I got an email back that gave me a one liner saying they're sorry for the inconvenience, then the same blurb about reordering. I explained I didn't care for directions on reordering as I've had a lot of practice reordering because my account keeps being cancelled. I said being treated this was was unacceptable and asked that my complaint be forwarded to a manager. I go a reply giving me a phone number to call to talk to a supervisor. I have called three times and once I finally get to talk to a person, I have been placed on hold to wait for a supervisor for over half an hour each time. At this point, I am not sure what to do. Its a great product -- I've even had prescriptions for acne and it doesn't work as well as proactiv. Its too bad that a loyal, six year customer such as myself can't get any resolution from their "customer Service" Department.

  • At 10:26 PM, Blogger Robyn @ said…

    Benzoyl peroxide is the active ingredient in most OTC acne products. All benzoyl peroxide bleaches fabric not just Proactiv.

  • At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Yakinican said…

    If I like to make my skin darker I have no problem with black people trying to make their skin lighter. To me its’ just personal preference. Its’ just like some of the thousands and thousands of people who do plastic sugery to have breast implants or facial restructures they want to look the way they want to and if its’ what makes them happy I am happy for them as well.


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