This is the tale of the single scurviest, most unethical, infuriating, and conniving corporation with whom I have ever had the displeasure of doing business (and that includes some stiff competition). They are a nationwide publishing firm and go by the name of Bottom Line Publications, but just as well may have named themselves Smile While We F#$* You, Inc.
Bottom Line Publishing is the producer of magazines and books that pertain to everyday living, and provide boatloads of helpfulosity (consumer and otherwise) ranging in topic from personal finance to health to business to child-rearing. They engage in ludicrously sensationalistic advertising, you know the sort, Buy Our Book to Learn About the Common Household Substance That Could Cause the Death of You and All Your Loved Ones! You Are in Imminent Danger! Your Child is Probably Drinking It Now! Buy Our Publication or Your Entire Family Will Die! (This is not an actual quote, but is a fairly accurate representation of their style and below-the-belt tactics not all their print advertising is alarmist hogwash, though. They also play well to greed and other emotional concerns all in an extremely manipulative manner.)
Some of their content actually is utile. One of the Bottom Line Yearbooks I received contained some tax strategies that I found very interesting, and there were other articles (all gleaned from other sources, I believe) that could prove from marginally to very informative. My beef is not with their content, it is with them and their conniving, exceedingly shitty way of doing business.
Bottom Line Publishing runs what is, in effect, a Subscription Book Club with an important distinction that separates them from OTHER subscription book clubs they subscribe you without your consent and ignore all pleas for escape. They operate monthly periodicals such as Bottom Line/Personal, Bottom Line/Business, Bottom Line/Health, etc. that provide niche information relevant to the magazines' particular thrust. They also produce an annual publication, Bottom Line Yearbook, which is a sort of compilation of all the best articles earlier provided in their magazines. In a moment of weakness, many years ago, I made the deadly error of ordering one of these annuals and have regretted it ever since.
The book arrived in a reasonable amount of time. I paid for it. I read it. I mentally categorized it as okay, but also determined that it was not particularly helpful to me, was overpriced, and was something I would not purchase again in the future or so I thought.
About twelve months later, I received the next year's version of Bottom Line Yearbook. I was annoyed, I don't particularly enjoy being sent items I did not order and subsequently billed for them. But, extending them the benefit of the doubt, I realized I may have possibly missed some fine print when ordering the previous year and had actually agreed to receive their books on an annual basis. I do not believe this was the case, I am in the habit of reading purchase-related information, but I recognized that it could be (though most likely, was not) in the realm of possibility. I sent them payment for the unwanted merchandise (another mistake) and accompanied it with a letter politely explaining that I did not order the book, did not wish to receive any more books, and would like to be removed from their mailing list.
Approximately, twelve months later, guess what I received? That's right yet another unordered, unwanted Bottom Line Yearbook. I had torn open the packaging mistakenly thinking it was something else I actually HAD ordered, so could not return it Did Not Order through the USPS. I searched through the book and accompanying literature and could find no way to contact them. I set the book aside, exasperated. When the attempts to collect payment started coming, they also had no contact information other than a post office box in Des Moines, Iowa. I responded to one of the collection notices, informing them that I had not ordered the book, did not intend on to pay for it, and would be glad to return the book if they would provide postage.
This correspondence was only answered in the form of more aggressive, accusatory attempts to collect payment. They were coming on a weekly basis, and, though it shames me to say so, I relented and paid them for the unwanted item once again accompanying payment with a business-like demand that they stop sending me unwanted merchandise.
Apparently they opted to ignore my formal request once again. The next year the same thing. I won't bore you with the details of my anger and evil thoughts of doing bad, bad things to the people at Bottom Line Publishing, but I will share with you the letter that I sent them when I (stupidly) paid them for the unwanted merchandise. Polite apparently did not work when dealing with these people, so I opted for a more Sordid style.
Dear People Who Send Me Crap I Didn't Order,
One time, several years ago, I ordered a Bottom Line yearbook. I got it, paid for it, and was indifferent. Now, for whatever reason, I am sent this book UNSOLICITED every d**n year. For the past couple years, I requested you stop sending me these unsolicited items, yet paid for them anyway because I was too lazy to try to get it straightened out.
Well, congratulations, once again I am too lazy to confront you and refuse payment for this unwanted book. I am telling you, though, point blank QUIT SENDING ME YOUR SH!@! I DO NOT ORDER IT, I DO NOT WANT IT!
If you send me ANY MORE items, I can personally assure I will not pay one penny towards them, I will burn them, I will create voodoo dolls in your likeness and stick red-hot pins in their gonads, I will contact the appropriate authorities with a full account of your unethical business practices, and I will make it my personal mission in life to disrupt your business and take every legal avenue available to annoy you.
Just stop sending me books, that's all I ask.
That's not unreasonable, is it?
Ken Quit Sending me Books Sxxxxxxxxx
P.S. You don't deserve this $28.90, you bastards.
That was mildly cathartic, but, I was certain, would prove ineffective. Before the next twelve months passed, though, I thought I may had shaken them. I made a 1,500 mile move (not solely to escape from them), and assumed (wrongly) that they would give up on fleecing me if they did not know my location to send me unwanted, unsolicited materials. That is why I was a bit surprised when, once again, I received a Bottom Line Yearbook neatly addressed to my brand spanky-new address that I had purposely never provided to them.
I immediately threw the book against the side of my house with every bit of strength I could muster, then proceeded to jump up and down on it multiple times and slam it against my concrete driveway repeatedly. Though I was becoming their annual victim, THIS TIME I was determined not to let them screw me any further. So after the collection notices started flowing, I shot them off another letter to express my displeasure. Hopefully, I was not too wishy-washy and they were able to discern my discontent with their business practices. This one was addressed to a real person, someone with a title of Fulfilment Manager, a woman named Kathi O'Neill. Following are the contents of said letter:
Dear Gravy-Sucking F@#*wad,
Please stop sending me your motherf@#*ing books which I did not order. I have expressed my desire to stop receiving your garbage-in-print in the past, but apparently my powers of communication have failed me as you ignore my requests. So allow me to express this in no uncertain terms:
QUIT SENDING ME YOUR s**t!
Furthermore, if you DO decide to continue mailing me these unordered and undesired publications, please be made aware that I will personally take all unordered items you send me and shove them straight up your a*s.
Thank you for your attention in this matter!
This letter, as well, apparently did not merit a personal response. They did, however, continue to badger me for payment. I threw away every collection notice they sent, anger boiling over with my weekly reminders of the futility of the situation. Eventually, though, those assholes turned me over to a REAL collection agency (North Shore). I decided, in a last-ditch effort at conventional problem resolution, to contact the collection agency and dispute the charges. Surprisingly enough, however, their phone number provided a convoluted web of automated choices which never once actually led to a real live human being.
My wife, bless her soul, being a calmer and more rational person than I, suggested that I could, perhaps, find Bottom Line's phone number on the internet. And she was right. If anyone reading this is stuck in a similar Bottom Line-constructed Roach Motel, I refer you to the following webpage containing contact information for these despicable people: http://www.bottomlinesecrets.com/cust_service/contact.html
I called one of their toll-free numbers and had the, ahem, pleasure of speaking with one of their representatives. I did my level best not to curse this poor soul, remembering that she was but a pawn herself set to absorb the abuse this evil organization so richly merited. Due to her piss-poor attitude, however, I was unsuccessful in refraining from cursing her. My favorite part of the exchange?:
CSR: Well, if you didn't want the books, why did you continue to pay for them?
Ken: Why does that even matter? I expressed in no uncertain terms that I did not want the damned books and they continually came, along with threatening collection notices.
CSR: You shouldn't have paid for them.
Ken: I agree. I shouldn't have. And then when I didn't pay for one, I was turned over to a collection agency. All over merchandise I DID NOT WANT and specifically requested I not be sent.
CSR: But you ordered the first one.
Ken: Yes, I did.
CSR: So after you ordered the first one, we added you to the list to receive them every year.
Ken: I agreed to purchase one book, one time. I never agreed or even expressed interest in receiving any more ever again. As a matter of fact, I specifically requested multiple times that I not be sent your damned books anymore. Why were my requests ignored?
CSR: We receive a lot of mail, it's hard to keep track of it all.
Ken: You are engaging in fraud.
CSR: You shouldn't have paid for them, we would have stopped sending them.
Ken: You are a stupid, manipulative s**t, and I'm sure you serve your employer well.
The Bottom Line? Something I told her worked. I stopped receiving the collection notices and I have not yet received any more unsolicited merchandise from them.
I can, however, without reservation, not only strongly recommend that you NOT willingly conduct any business with Bottom Line Publications, but futher state that if you do order merchandise from them AFTER reading this, you are a fool and deserve the grief they will cause you.
If my words help even ONE person avoid this contemptible and ethically bankrupt business, it would certainly atone for some of my many and varied sins.
Furthermore, I hope that Bottom Line Publications goes bankrupt very soon and that all their employees are struck with particularly irksome instances of anal warts. That's right I'm Disgruntled Customer with a capital D. They have proven to be a monumental pain in my a*s, so I can only hope that fate returns the favor.