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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 8, 2008 10:15 AM. The previous post in this blog was Keep on usin' me, until you use me up. The next post in this blog is Bummer. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, December 8, 2008

Is Martha getting desperate?

We've got some Martha Stewart stuff around our house. The Mrs. subscribes to one of the Martha magazines. But beyond that, we haven't succumbed much to Martha-ism -- neither during her time in custody nor during her time at large in the general population.

And so it was with a bit of surprise that we found this in our mailbox last week:

It's a DVD of Martha, apparently gushing over recipes that she got from her mom growing up. And along with it, a bunch of paperwork, including a cover letter that informed us:

What a rip! You can keep the DVD as a free gift, or send it back. Gee, Martha, if you don't get it back from us, what are the chances that you're not going to send us more and start pumping out the invoices? "Now I'm stuck," the Mrs. told me. "Whether I want it or not, either way I have to deal with this stupid-a*s thing."

And so she dutifully cut the label off the infernal reply form and mailed it back to Martha:

Is this what it takes to make money these days? How far we have fallen.

Comments (15)

I don't think it's legal to send something out unsolicitated which will obligate you to future purchases. Even if they say you can return the future ones. Anybody else agree with me?

Yeah, I had a magazine do a similar thing, and I just ignored everything they sent, kept what was interesting and recycled the rest. After 3-4 issues, and 6-8 invoices they stopped sending the stuff I hadn't subscribed to.

I expected them to threaten to send me to collections, but they never did.

Mike-

Marie Claire did just that to my daughter, sending her one magazine and many, many invoices, which she ignored. Then she got a note from a "collection agency" warning her how her credit would be ruined if she didn't pay for a subscription that she never requested. She wrote back to the "collection agency" threatening to sue them for harassment if they didn't stop demanding that she pay for something she didn't order. We haven't heard from them since, but poor Hearst Communications must be in dire straits if they need to resort to such tactics to make a few bucks.

Yep, if someone sends you something unsolicited then it is yours to keep and they can't charge you for it.

If you're concerned then use Handbrake to convert the DVD to a computer or iPod file and send the thing back.

Did anyone read that last line (underlined) in the letter?

Thanks
JK

You may keep the free gift and if they dun you, they violate the state unlawful trade practices act. http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/merch.htm

Business Week tried that sort of crap on me a year or so ago after my subscription expired. I simply ignored their renewal invoices and a final phony "collection letter".

National Geographic did this with a DVD that we were given the choice of purchasing or returning. We didn't do either and we get these letters from a collection agency trying to collect the 9.95 we "owe" on the DVD we never asked for to begin with.

The company I was working for in 1980 looked into this. You cannot send out anything that is unsolicited and expect payment if it not returned. You cannot obligate the recipient to future purchases, period. It is illegal.

As a practical matter, do you think that would stop them from sending more and dunning you mercilessly for all of them?

I researched this with the Oregon Attorney Generals office several years back when my elderly parents kept receiving Reader Digest goods and a book club kept sending the monthly books.

The AG office said keep the goods, don't reply and probably they'll desist from sending the goods; and it is illegal in our state for them to do so if no signed agreement was ever made. Three years later they finally stopped.

I think they would probably stop, by why not encourage them to stop by filling their postage paid return envelope with rocks...

JK: Did anyone read that last line (underlined) in the letter?

That sentence refers only to "this special DVD" - not the stream of future DVD's they admit that they'll churn out every 2-3 months, that you can bet will also be billed and dunned if you don't pay or return it.

Jack is right on with this one. Are you defending the practice, Jim?

As a practical matter, do you think that would stop them from sending more and dunning you mercilessly for all of them?

As a former member of the Bedford, Ny "community" I can say, without hesitation, nor equivocation, do not under any circumstances trust any and everything from that neck of the woods.

We covered this in Doug Newell's contracts class:

39 USC sec. 3009 (1994) Mailing of Unordered Merchandise-

(a) Except for
(1) free samples clearly and conspicuously marked as such, and
(2) merchandise mailed by a charitable organization soliciting contributions, the mailing of un­ordered merchandise or of communications prohibited by subsection (c) of this section constitutes an unfair method of competition and an unfair trade practice in violation of section 45 (a)(1) of title 15.
(b) Any merchandise mailed in violation of subsection (a) of this section, or within the exceptions contained therein, may be treated as a gift by the recipient, who shall have the right to retain, use, discard, or dispose of it in any manner he sees fit without any obligation whatsoever to the sender. All such merchandise shall have attached to it a clear and conspicuous statement informing the recipient that he may treat the merchandise as a gift to him and has the right to retain, use, discard, or dispose of it in any manner he sees fit without any obligation whatsoever to the sender.
(c) No mailer of any merchandise mailed in violation of subsection (a) of this section, or within the exceptions contained therein, shall mail to any recipient of such merchandise a bill for such merchandise or any dunning communications.
(d) For the purposes of this section, “un­ordered merchandise” means merchandise mailed without the prior expressed request or consent of the recipient.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode39/usc_sec_39_00003009----000-.html

Can't speak for its currentness. Godspeed.


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