Bait and Switch Trickery in Online Divorce

Ed West of California divorce forms preparer NetDivorce warns consumers seeking uncontested divorce not to get trapped by a classic bait and switch tactic in the online divorce industry. A “free divorce document” is offered and provided by a website but the consumer must then hire a subscribing lawyer to get divorced. The single free document doesn’t even get the divorce filed.

Ed West at NetDivorce advises divorce consumers that tricky online divorce sites are offering a “free divorce document,” usually a Divorce Settlement Agreement, but that document will never get a divorce case filed on its own.  Many more completed documents are needed, and they are definitely not free.  In fact, the predominant site using the bait and switch trick does not even handle divorce.  But the lawyers who subscribe to the site will be happy to help – for lawyer’s fees.

Search online for “divorce forms” and in the top 5 or 6 paid results (at the top of the page and down the right hand side) will be the primary website that uses this ploy.  Its ads say, “Free Divorce Forms.”  At least two other sites make similar offers, so that the offer appears more common, but a click or two will rocket (HINT!) from those connected sites right back to the prime offender.

West points out that this is not the usual Free Divorce Forms scam.  There are many sites that offer ALL divorce forms free, but they are all blank. When a consumer downloads them and realizes s/he still doesn’t know how to complete them, s/he will tend to go back to the download site.  And what a surprise! That site offers a divorce forms preparation service and “rescues” the tricked consumer.

The bait and switch scam is different because while a single actual completed divorce form is provided, the site itself doesn’t offer a divorce forms preparation service.  Instead, they sell zip codes to subscribing lawyers.  And those lawyers can be hired to handle a divorce case at 40% off something called “pre-negotiated rates” or $125 an hour, whichever is greater.  For an uncontested divorce, an hourly rate is completely inappropriate.  Even if a consumer decides to hire a lawyer, there should be a flat rate fee for an uncontested divorce.

While the bait and switch site follows up with emails offering lawyers’ services, it will also offer the consumer a legal services plan for either $19 or $39 per month on an automatic credit card payment.  And no, the plan does not include divorce.

Perhaps more concerning is that to get your free divorce document, you must complete an online interview, providing much personal information about your address, children, income, employment, property, etc. to a Google-partially owned website. 

West regrets this ploy:  “It’s a real shame because divorce is tough enough already. People don’t need this sort of nonsense. And the industry doesn’t need this reputation. “

West advises, “If you want to hire a lawyer, talk to people you trust and get recommendations. Don’t let a website decide what lawyer you hire.  If you want to sign up for a legal services plan, do so. But don’t get bait and switched into one. And remember that nothing of value is free.  You will pay for that single free document by the loss of your own choice. They’ve got your personal info and you’ve invested 15-30 minutes in their online interview. They are counting on you not walking away from that investment.”

West’s best advice to divorce consumers: “Never provide any divorce website your personal information or email address until you have hired it and you have a contract to protect you. You stay in control, and you make all the choices.”

West promises that, “NetDivorce has taken the No Free Forms Scam pledge. What that means is that NetDivorce will never offer free forms as a trick to get consumers to hire NetDivorce.  At NetDivorce, the deal is simple.  You hire us.  You pay us $99. We then swamp you with expert divorce forms preparation and all-embracing client support.  It’s all we’ve got. It’s all we offer.  No tricks. No BS.”

 

At NetDivorce, the deal is simple. You hire us. You pay us $99. We then swamp you with expert divorce forms preparation and all-embracing client support. It’s all we've got. It’s all we offer.
Tags: California Divorce, Online Divorce California, California Divorce Forms, Get Divorced In California, Cheap Divorce California, How To Get Divorced California

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NetDivorce prepares California divorce papers online in uncontested cases for $99. Complete the secure online interview at your own pace from the comfort of your home or office. Download your divorce papers immediately and print them on your home or office printer. Use customized NetDivorce written instructions to file and complete your case. Control your own case with NetDivorce DokChek, Weekly Updates, Knowledge Base, context-sensitive help systems and Client Support.