Ordering by mail

November 25, 2013

Mail order flyers

The following report provides general information to help you shop by mail wisely.

Try to deal with well-known companies, especially those recommended by friends and neighbors. Contact your BBB to hear a report on the company. If you know nothing about them and would still like to make a purchase, start small.

Pay attention to the fine print in ads! The special introductory offer of some book clubs, for example, requires you to buy a number of other books over a certain period.

Check the terms of any guarantee that is offered. Keep in mind that a guarantee is only as good as the company offering it. Additionally, if the mail order company is located outside of the province or country, claiming on a guarantee may prove ineffective, if not impossible.

Arrange to pay for the goods by cash or money order on delivery if possible. That way you do not run the risk of paying in advance for goods you might never receive. Your BBB urges consumers to excercise caution whenever sending money in advance, or when disclosing personal and financial information to an unknown source. An unscrupulous company may attempt to access your credit card or bank account if they have the proper numbers.

Read, understand, and agree to all coupons and contracts before you sign them. Once a contract is signed, it is binding and may not be changed if you disagree to the terms. For example, you may be entering into a contract when you sign a coupon for membership in a book or record club. Be sure you keep a copy of the contract and the order form.

Do not assume that an ad is honest just because it is seen in a respected publication.

Watch out for negative-option sales. In this kind of sale, a buying club regularly sends members a product or card advertising the product.  If you do not return the item or the card by a certain date, the club considers that you have accepted the offer. You will be billed for the item offered.

For other related information, please refer to the files on Direct Marketing Schemes as well as Prize Schemes.