An Austin-based online fishing company is in deep water with consumers nationwide after dozens have filed complaints against the business for allegedly never delivering ordered products.
Consumers allege, BaitProShop, who previously did business under the names Angling USA and Swim Bait Pro, either fail to deliver ordered products or claim the business enrolls them into a membership subscription called Angling USA Association without their consent.
As of Feb. 5, 2019, BBB has received 71 consumer complaints and negative customer reviews against BaitProShop in the last 12 months. The majority of which are unanswered.
BBB’s investigation found that BaitProShop attracts customers through paid advertisements on Facebook. The company’s Facebook page, Fishing Obsessed, advertises their products as “free” and “must have” items. These posts have gained thousands of shares, comments and reactions from Facebook users. Currently, the Fishing Obsessed page has over 48,000 followers and over 47,000 likes.
The posts also compare its “free” fish bait to similar products at large outdoor retailers. One post stating “These Swimbaits sells for $23 at Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s But BaitProShop is giving them away for FREE right now! Grab one while they’re still available.”
BBB’s investigation found that the products sold as “Free” requires customers to pay shipping and handling costs, which is not disclosed until reaching the check out page on the company’s website.
Additionally, BBB found the same products sold by BaitProShop for $23.55 being sold on other similar websites for $2.98.
BBB found further advertising concerns with BaitProShop’s website. These concerns include a failure to substantiate advertised testimonials, failure to disclose if the price of their fishing bait is included in the cost of shipping and handling, and falsely advertising that their product was on sale for a limited time.
BBB also uncovered BaitProShop made claims via email to customers alleging that part of their membership fees would be donated to the “Take a Warrior Fishing Foundation.” According to the email, the foundation helps veterans and military personnel with rehabilitation relating to traumatic experiences in zones of conflict.
BBB reached out to the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation who established the “Take A Warrior Fishing” program in 2011. C.A.S.T. stated they have never heard of BaitProShop or Angling USA.
BBB called BaitProShop several times to address these concerns but was only able to leave a voicemail. After contacting BaitProShop via email, BBB received a response from the company stating BaitProShop was not affiliated with Angling USA. BBB was unable to confirm this statement.
If you are looking to shop online, BBB suggest you keep these tips in mind.
- Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
- Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.
- Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
- Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records.