Gimmicks, Trickery, and the Not-so Verbal Agreement

Ever get calls from a business claiming that you owe them money, but you don’t remember having agreed to it?  You’re not the only one!  Consumers and businesses, alike, have made reports on this to the Better Business Bureau.  Most of the calls received by businesses report on having received supplies that they had not ordered or an invoice for an annual subscription to promote their business online, which they did not agree to renew.  Consumers may get roped into a yearly subscription for a magazine or other miscellaneous monthly fees.

scam 300x249 Gimmicks, Trickery, and the Not so Verbal Agreement

Sometimes, these charges are legitimate but not always.  One thing businesses should look out for and certainly train their Office Assistants on is dishonest telemarketers, who may tell an assistant that the owner authorized a purchase.  Without a second thought, they will agree to have supplies shipped and then sign for them.  Before long, a company might wind up with a surplus of 50 ink cartridges, a stockpile of paper, and other supplies, if not careful.

As far as the annual subscription for marketing, one has to read the fine print on the contract agreement/invoice.  It may state specifically that an annual fee will be reapplied, if the company is not told otherwise.  Once you’ve signed your name to it, whether you knowingly agreed to something or not, you are bound to it.

Consumers need to be ever so careful with telemarketing calls and free gimmicks.  One popular one is the “You’ve won a $1000 gift card from Wal-mart!”  Just call the number to obtain your gift card.  Right away, you are asked for credit card information, to pay for shipping and handling.  Eager, unassuming winners give it out, without a second thought.  There is another gimmick that offers beaucoup coupons for grocery shopping.  The company does send the coupons, in exchange for credit card information, but a not-so-friendly monthly charge appears for services that the consumer unknowingly agreed to.

The best practice to have when dealing with phone solicitors is to not agree to anything verbally but to insist on having a written contract sent to you that you can carefully look over at your leisure, before making a commitment.  If a company is unwilling to work with you at your leisure, that should be a warning sign.

Another practice brought to the Better Business Bureau’s attention is that of telephone solicitors insisting that a consumer has agreed to a purchase because they were recorded as saying “yes” to it on the phone.  The consumer, obviously, doesn’t have any recollection of this or they wouldn’t be contesting the purchase.  Consumers find this practice very alarming, naturally.  In some states, this practice may be legal.  The burden of proof is definitely the business’s to provide and should be challenged, if you are in disagreement with the company.

By all means, contact the Better Business Bureau, if you’d like to have such a complaint or other mediated.  If concerns about a company’s business practice, contact your state’s Attorney General, and certainly the Federal Trade Commission.  The more consumers that take action against bad business practices, the higher the chance of getting laws passed that protect consumers.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/restlessglobetrotter/3378489363/”>xJason.Rogersx</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photo pin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

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About Kristal Heffley

Ad Review and Social Media Specialist of BBB serving Northern Indiana. Kristal spends a great deal of time learning, writing about, and educating the public on scams of the day. She also is quite the social-media enthusiast and community partner. You can follow her posts, i.e. BBB serving Northern Indiana on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and of course, our blog.