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[April 2022]

Free of charge if promoting the product and service on social media? Beware of sales messages like "100% cashback" and "No expense"

Local consumer affairs centers and the like across Japan have received inquiries and complaints about unscrupulous sales tactics (e.g. inducing consumers to make a contract by saying "If you promote the service/product on social media, you can use it free of charge by getting cashback later.")

According to the information received, consumers ended up bearing the cost contrary to the seller's explanation in advance (e.g. "Although I have promoted the product, I've received no cashback," "Contrary to the prior explanation, I was billed for the service later.")

Therefore, NCAC decided to issue a consumer alert to prevent similar problems.

How consumers get in trouble:

  1. A consumer receives a direct message on social media: "If you promote the Wi-Fi service on social media, you can use it free of charge."
  2. The consumer receives an explanation on cashback and signs up for the Wi-Fi service in his/her own name.
  3. The consumer receives the Wi-Fi router, etc. and promotes the Wi-Fi service on social media.
  4. No cashback is paid, or additional cost is charged. The consumer has to bear the cost.

Sample Cases

I was told that I can use mobile Wi-Fi and a tablet free of charge if I promote them on social media, but no cashback has been paid.

Last autumn, I received a direct message from company A on image-only social media: "Test users can access mobile Wi-Fi free of charge. If you are interested in the offer, contact me on free-calling app." Just then I wanted to use mobile Wi-Fi. I registered my account with the free-calling app. Then I received a message with a URL from a person with company A: "If you sign up for company B's mobile Wi-Fi and a tablet, and promote them on social media, company A will pay you 100% cashback so that you can cover the monthly charges." After receiving additional explanations from the person with company A, I accessed the URL and entered information of my credit card. At a later date a Wi-Fi router and a tablet were delivered to me. Monthly charges were deducted from my credit card (about 12,000 yen in November and about 8,000 yen in December). Although I have promoted the Wi-Fi and the tablet on social media, I have never received cashback from company A. I contacted the person with company A on the free-calling app, but I have never received any clear answer. What should I do?

Other Cases

  • I was asked to promote a smart speaker. I heard that there would be no charge for it, but the monthly charge was deducted from my credit card. What's worse, the smart speaker was not delivered to me.
  • I heard that access to an online course would be free of charge if promoting it on social media, and I accepted the offer. Later I found that I had to buy a product to use the service.

Advice for Consumers

Don't make a contract with ease even if you are told "100% cashback," "No expense," etc.

Victims were told to make a contract in his/her own name, being explained that the cost would be covered by cashback. Although they were initially told that there would be no expense, they were billed later or were induced to buy another product. Do not make a contract with ease even if you are encouraged to do so on social media. Be careful and think twice.

Cancellation may require an expensive penalty. Outstanding debt may be charged at once.

It is often the case that cashback is not paid and consumers have to bear monthly charges and/or the purchase price. When applying for cancellation, a penalty may be charged.

In case of payment in installments for a Wi-Fi router and/or a tablet, all the outstanding debt may be charged at once when cancelling the contract. If the amount has remained unpaid for some considerable time, you may be registered with credit bureaus. If registered, your application for a credit card may be declined and you may not pass a loan test.

In case of trouble or concern, consult your local consumer affairs center right away.