HelloFresh denies taking money after accounts closed

Some customers say their accounts with the food box firm were reactivated and money taken without consent.
HelloFresh denies taking money after accounts closed
A woman looking at the HelloFresh app on a tabletHelloFresh

Food delivery firm HelloFresh has denied taking subscriptions from customers who say they had cancelled their accounts.

The BBC has heard claims that some customers found their accounts reactivated with money taken for orders they had not made.

They believe that just logging on to the app reactivated their accounts.

HelloFresh said money was taken only when customers made a “proactive decision” to revive an account.

Laurence, a finance director from Bedfordshire, said his wife Nina set up a trial period with HelloFresh in November but was not impressed by the service.

“Having cancelled the HelloFresh subscription three months ago, my wife woke up to a message saying her account had been reactivated. But she had not reactivated it,” he said.

He said his wife had opened the app to have a look at menu options as her dietary requirements had changed.

Laurence told the BBC he believed that HelloFresh had set up its app in such a way that “you are automatically reactivated if you had an account, just for opening the app”.

HelloFresh took £40 from Nina’s bank account on 31 January and despite being called three hours later would not refund the money.

“They said no,” Laurence said. “We told them we hadn’t reactivated the account. My wife said she’d contact our bank about getting our money back but they said if we did that they’d send a third-party debt collector round.”

Cancelling the subscription again they received an email confirming the cancellation, but on 9 February they received another message thanking them for reactivating the account.

“They took £40 again, but this time we got the money back,” the 44-year-old said. The account was then closed.

HelloFresh told the BBC its 1,000-strong tech team, which “constantly” monitors and maintains its systems, had not experienced “any glitches in reactivations”.

It said customers must log in to the app or website and go through a series of steps before their account could be made live again.

But Laurence said neither he nor his wife had gone through that process. “This is untrue. We did not perform those steps and had no idea what meals were being sent to us.

“Why would we ring customer services to ask why they took money from us if we had performed those steps? My wife deleted the app and a week later her account was reactivated again.”

HelloFresh said it listened back to the conversation its agent had with Nina and said there was “no evidence the customer was charged without consent”.

“The agent explained… that they would still be liable to pay for the box… and that if they stopped their bank from paying, a third-party might contact them,” the company told the BBC.

‘A nightmare’

Other customers told the BBC they had had similar experiences with the company.

Karen Sadler from Surrey said she cancelled her subscription but was sent a box when she “just went to have a look at the menus”.

“I hadn’t even ordered it and then when I explained, I didn’t get any apology, just ‘oh well, it will cost £10 to cancel your membership’.”

“A nightmare” is how Sarah Purnell described her relationship with HelloFresh.

“If you ever log on to your account for any reason, even accidentally, because it is an app on your phone it reactivates and then sends a new order,” she said.

HelloFresh food box

HelloFresh

In a statement issued to the BBC, HelloFresh wrote: “We are categorically not taking any money from customers without the conscious and proactive decision by these customers to reactivate.

“We have not seen an increase in customer complaints related to this type of issue, which we would expect if there was an issue with the process. We also take serious steps to ensure the reactivation process is clear.”

Last week shares in the recipe box firm, which was founded in 2011, fell by more than 40% after it warned its earnings would fall below expectations. It is due to publish its annual report on Friday.

With rivals Gousto and the Mindful Chef, the company enjoyed a business boom during the pandemic when people were told to stay at home.

But its user numbers have fallen since then. Some 7.1 million people worldwide subscribe, according to its latest figures, down from more than 8.5 million in 2022.

In January, HelloFresh was fined £140,000 for sending millions of spam texts and emails to customers following an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which found there had been a “clear breach of trust”.

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Source: bbc.co.uk

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