Retired teacher Lela Keepers told the I-team she has a hard time spending $10, so when she and her husband, both in their 80s, got a credit card bill for $10,392, she thought it had to be a mistake.
“It's hard to face this kind of situation because you are so embarrassed and how did that happen to me?” said Lela. “I feel so terrible about the money."
At the Waukesha County Fair last summer, the couple was handing out Bibles. Near their booth, was a skincare company called La Vie Marketing LLC based out of Texas.
The Keepers ended up buying six body creams, blue and red-light therapy, thermal masks, serums, and lotions with stem cells from the vendor.
But, the couple told the I-team they had no idea the price of those products.
“We weren't looking for a bill or for a product,” said Roger Keepers.
“The girl that was attending the booth at the time I was walking through the fair, was just as sweet as could be and complimented me and she couldn’t believe that I never use creams,” Lela said. “I mentioned, ‘Well what does something like this cost?’”
“$169 was the highest that I ever heard,” said Roger.
Under pressure, Lela handed over her credit card. A month later, she told her daughter what happened.
“She was afraid that they might have spent a couple of hundred dollars on this and she was feeling pretty bad about it,” said Kara Keepers, the couple’s daughter.
But when Kara checked the receipt, she was shocked.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Kara continued. “I knew that there was no way that they ever would have agreed to a sale like that."
The La Vie Marketing LLC receipt did not have any individual prices listed for any of the products, but it did have $10,000 handwritten toward the bottom. Lela said that wasn't there when she signed it. It appears someone wrote over that number, changing the amount owed to $10,392.
Kara Keepers called the Sheriff’s office and filed a fraud report with the couple's credit card company.
“But the ultimate report came back they're within the law because you handed them a credit card and you signed a paper,” Kara explained.
Kara called the company but the owner refused to give her parents a full refund.
The I-team contacted the owner as well, he told us he wouldn't answer any questions over the phone and to email him instead.
We did. Twice. We never heard back.
The owner, did, however, respond to Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, after Call 4 Action told Kara to file a complaint with them.
In his letter of response, he said Kara is "painting a bad picture..." for his company, that they’ve never had a case like this before.
He also said, "Although we are not legally obligated to refund the Keepers, after receiving all products at our facility in Houston, Texas we will process a full refund for $10,392."
"I think without your investigating this never could have happened,” said Kara.
Kara packaged up all of the skincare products for her parents and shipped it back.
"I can’t even express how much of a relief this feels," said Kara.
The I-team learned the company was true to their word. Kara showed us her refund receipt.
The couple was charged $250 monthly interest on their credit card bill since last summer. The I-team contacted financial representatives and helped get those charges removed.
If you're ever in this kind of situation, remember:
1.) It's OK to say no.
2.) Always know what you're signing.
3.) Don't be afraid to ask questions.
The I-team reached out to the Waukesha County Fair to comment on the case.
A spokesperson provided the following statement:
"The Waukesha County Fair staff and its Board of Directors work hard each year to incorporate a diverse set of commercial vendors that offer a variety of merchandise, wares, and services for our valued fairgoers. We pride ourselves on many decades of working with credible vendors that have provided quality products and offerings as well as excellent guest service. Vendors at The Waukesha County Fair are held accountable for abiding by detailed rules & regulations set forth by the Fair. Additional requirements include a minimum of three reputable references that are verified, adequate general liability insurance, as well as a document listing their approval/ability to legally sell products in the State of WI as a legitimate company. The Waukesha County Fair partners with local law enforcement (The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department) to provide security each year and we hold our vendors accountable for acting in a legal and ethical manner.
The Waukesha County Fair worked to impress due diligence in taking action by referring to the incident properly to law enforcement once we were aware of the situation. The Waukesha County Fair staff and Board of Directors have reviewed our policies and procedures and will, to the best of our ability, make every effort that such a circumstance will not occur again in the future. We will continue to cooperate in any manner to assist in the situation of the losses that were incurred by the actions of this vendor.
The Waukesha County Fair staff and its Board of Directors will not be welcoming this particular company, La Vie Marketing, LLC back to our upcoming 2020 event, nor will there be any future opportunities to be a part of The Waukesha County Fair. We hope that this couple, along with others, continue to partake in this annual summer tradition and understand that these actions in no way reflect the credibility nor ethics that The Waukesha County Fair works hard to impose."
A spokesperson for the Wisconsin State Fair told the I-team, “I was able to confirm that we do not currently, nor have plans to, contract with La Vie Marketing.”
This case came into our station through our Call 4 Action office. If you have a consumer complaint, you can call them at 414-967-5495
Or you can call the I-team tip line at 414-967-5556