The third largest political advertiser on Snapchat this year isn’t a political campaign, party, or interest group. It’s a mysterious marketing company hawking “free” Trump merchandise that legions of angry customers say is just a hook to get their credit card numbers and begin extracting money.
The company, Albbiom Marketing, has reported paying about $418,000 this year for Snapchat ads that were viewed more than 435 million times, according to the platform’s political advertising database. Only two Snapchat advertisers have received more impressions: Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, and the anti-smoking group Truth.
Albbiom’s ads offer free Trump flags, t-shirts, hats, and other kitschy memorabilia. Customers need only pay five bucks for shipping. Scores of angry online customer reviews are unanimous on what happens next: people who provide their credit card number are quietly signed up for a “membership” generally costing $50 or more per month, and next thing they know, they’re being billed for a “service” for which they never knew they signed up. Many customers report that they never even received the “free” merchandise they were promised, and some reported that, while they were able to cancel unwanted memberships, the companies involved refused to refund the fees they’d been charged even when those charges were disputed.