Investigate Before You Invest

detective 150x150 Investigate Before You InvestI love to scrapbook. This week, while cutting up old copies of Writer’s Digest from 15 years ago, (I’m also a hoarder!) I ran across some advice from a freelance writer.

He warned of a lady who wanted him to write an article for a large sum. She wanted him to send the completed story, and then she would “look it over and see” if it was satisfactory. This gentleman said NO. What was to stop her from rejecting the piece, then publishing similar content? It had happened to him before.

Besides, that isn’t how it works in the publishing world. The clips and samples of your finished work that you send when you apply for a commission are intended to give the prospective client an idea of whether they should hire you or not.

The BBB often receives complaints against companies that promise a lot upfront and then after getting your money or your product, deliver…nothing.

I remember one computer company in Maryland that marketed to low-income people with credit problems all over the U.S. They raked in $15 million, but the BBB started receiving complaints that people weren’t getting any computers. By the time the FTC shut the company down, we were sitting on 2,733 complaints. Conditions to redeem “store credits,” according to the FTC, were even rigged to discourage consumers from using them.

The really bad part was that the company continued to market to thousands of financially strapped consumers, promising to help them buy a computer, even after legal action by state Attorney Generals and the FTC. I remember getting calls from people who had sent this company money, long after the company’s BBB rating had plummeted to an F.

Here’s another example: A coffee vending machine company started up, then bought an off-the-shelf corporation so that it appeared to have a long commercial history. They rented an office space but never moved in. Then the BBB began receiving complaints that consumers had paid thousands of dollars upfront for a “business opportunity” and received not so much as a cup of Joe. 

 Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, be careful out there, folks! The BBB doesn’t always have information on every company, but if you put them on our radar we will research and get back to you.

When it comes to the marketplace, the best piece of advice I ever heard is this: Investigate before you invest.

 

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.