Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that magazine subscription peddlers often are cheating consumers out of their money over the phone and at the front door.
More than 660 complaints have been filed with BBB nationwide about door-to-door sellers so far this year, and indications are that number will swell beyond the 1,200 complaints in 2010.
Unscrupulous magazine telemarketers are well-versed at tricking consumers into signing up for multi-year subscriptions to magazines they don’t want or can’t afford. In worst case scenarios, they may load credit cards with unauthorized charges beyond what the consumer approved.
During the summer months, door-to-door sellers use slick high pressure techniques that are so sophisticated that some victims aren't even aware that they have bought several magazine subscriptions until they receive the bill.
Many of these companies employ high school and college-age people who are trying to earn money during their summer break. These crews are sent into communities to knock on doors—sometimes without appropriate licensing. In the sales pitch, the representatives might claim they are working to help raise money on behalf of a charity, for a school or to pay for education-related expenses.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, cautions consumers to be extremely careful when considering signing-up for a magazine subscription sold by a door-knocker.
“Most of the complaints against them allege the sales representative took their check and the magazines never arrived, while others also allege being subjected to misleading sales tactics.”
This summer, BBB recommends the following on how to handle door-to-door magazine sellers:
Listen carefully and take time to carefully consider an offer - Some unscrupulous door-to-door sellers will put pressure on you to close the deal right away and even make special offers to entice you. Listen to their tone. Are they increasing in volume as they speak to you? Are they ignoring you if you say you aren’t interested? End the conversation quickly to avoid drawn-out pressured sales pitches.
Do not invite unsolicited salespeople into your home - If you do allow a salesperson inside and decide during the presentation that you are not interested in making a purchase, simply ask him or her to leave. If the salesperson refuses to leave, threaten to call the police, and follow through if they don’t leave immediately.
Verify the credentials - If you are interested in buying, get everything in writing including price, details of the opting-out process at the end of the subscription period, cancellation terms and any related fees. Ask for a business card with contact information.
Contact the company to verify the seller is in fact an employee, and take the time to check out the company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org. Tell the salesperson that you will consider their offer and get back to him or her.
Get all of the paperwork - Along with a receipt, salespeople should also provide a completed cancellation form that you can send to the company to get out of the contract. By law, the company must refund you within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.
Remember your legal rights - The Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling-Off Rule” gives you three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in your home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business.
Victims of fraudulent magazine sales should file a complaint with Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org or by telephone at 203-269-2700, as well as with local police and the Office of the Attorney General.
Visit BBB online to check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses.
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Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.