Each year, BBB receives thousands of complaints from consumers across the U.S. who purchased multi-year magazine subscriptions they didn't want or couldn't afford. In 2011, BBB has already received 662 complaints nationally about door-to-door magazine sellers and dealers; at this rate, the number may top last year's nearly 1,200 complaints. Most complainants allege that they:
- Were not aware they bought several subscriptions until they received a bill.
- Made payments to sales representatives, but the magazines never arrived.
- Felt they were subjected to high pressure or misleading sales tactics.
Local door-to-door magazine sellers are racking up similar complaints.
In the last 12 months, BBB has received 16 complaints on Eksentrik Clearing Services LLC of Portland, Oregon. Complainants allege that they bought magazine subscriptions with cash or personal checks, but did not receive the merchandise they paid for; some say the business refuses to issue refunds.
BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington recommends advice on how to handle this summer's door-to-door magazine sellers:
- Don't buy into it: Be on alert for high pressure sales tactics. Beware when sellers rush to close deals, make last-minute special offers and do not allow time to research opportunities.
- Read into claims: If interested, get everything in writing; including price, subscription details and all conditions. Ask for business cards and contact information to verify validity. Look up companies on the Web and get BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org. Before paying, make sure sellers can provide written receipts.
- Get on the same page: The Federal Trade Commission's Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller's permanent place of business. Oregonians are protected by the Three-Day Right of Rescission.
Victims of fraudulent magazine sales can file a complaint with Better Business Bureau, local law enforcement, and state Attorney General offices.