JustAnswer is just another scam.

I have a sick cat; he has had Calicivirus and has been sick with it for two months. It was a Saturday, the vet’s office was closed and I was tossing and turning about what to do because he looked worse. My options were to take him to Vet ER again (another $150). As I agonized what to do, I realized that the ER room was probably where he got the virus in the first place. A friend who works at clinics says the animals are brought into a ‘holding room’ in their carriers and wait there until they are seen by a vet. In ER, due to volume, that could be two hours. More than enough time for a sick cat to sneeze and for the droplets to carry and infect other cats. So, instead, I thought to call an online service and speak to a vet that way. I found JustAnswer and at first it looked to be $5; that was just to log in. Then it was another $28 to talk to the vet. I did that, got hold of the vet, she gave me a lot of good tips. By Monday morning, I was on the phone with my regular vet and requesting additional meds that I received.

So far, so good. Then today, eleven days later, a $50.00 charge pops up on my bank balance that I don’t recognize from JustAnswer. I contact them and they advise me that the $5 was for a trial membership and here is the important part, if I did not cancel the membership within 7 days, I would be charged a membership fee ($50). Apparently, someone at JustAnswer has been to law school and found out about the strength of unilateral contracts. (I would love to hear from some attorneys from the readership.)

Anyway, after making enough noise about the fee, and telling them they should be ashamed of this behavior, the fee was cancelled and I guess I get my $50 back. The CEO of JustAnswer is Andy Jurtzig, who looks like a nice guy from his photos. The company is making 100 million per year which probably means Andy is making at least 1 million per. More and more, we see companies like this one and Amazon, pulling with all their might, customers into ‘membership’ programs. They have clearly learned that steady ‘membership’ fees are far more lucrative than individual sales.

Years ago I worked as a cashier at a huge furniture retailer. Customers would routinely come in and buy $2000 worth of furniture and then make $10 a month payments. Since the stuff was junk, the furniture would easily break and wear out long before the loan was paid off. Businesses over and over again seek to lure customers into financing schemes which of course, with interest, earn way more revenue than just the simple retail sales. At Macys I have been asked as many as three times during one such purchase if I wouldn’t like to sign up for their credit card. No, no thank you.

I can only say, that people contacting JustAnswer for Vet, MD, or attorney advice probably do so in desperate times. The frantic pet owner or frantic whomever is not likely to focus on the small print. So, you just enjoy your cocktails there in Silicon Valley, Andy, I am just hoping more people will get wise to this racket.