So you got another shipment in the mail from Bottom Line Books that you didn't order and don't want. Since it is unsolicited you can just keep it or Return to Sender right? Because, as an educated citizen, you know that billing for unsolicited merchandise is illegal under United States Code Title 39, Part IV, Chapter 30, Section 3009.
Not so fast.
Have you ever done business with Bottom Line publishing? Bought a book from them or a periodical or newspaper? Bottom Line Books practices what is called "Negative Option Marketing." The fact that you have done business with them previously permanently entitles them to send you unsolicited merchandise and bill you for it unless you ask them to stop.
Nope. Although the FCC has tried to outlaw this on several occasions, telemarketers and other businesses pay Congress good money to ensure that this is never enacted into law.
One of the more famous examples of Negative Option marketing is the Columbia House music and video program, or various Book-of-the-Month clubs. To educate yourself, read this:
But you sent the book back! How can they still bill you for it?
Can you prove that you sent it back? More importantly, do you have a receipt to prove that they received it?
If you do send the book back, you will need to pay for a delivery with signature receipt. Otherwise, the company will simply claim that it was never returned. The burden of proof falls on you, not them. Unfair but true. Of course, you can knuckle under and just pay the bill to avoid the hassle.
You asked them to stop! You even wrote to them last year at the address of the processing center that sent you the merchandise! Oh yeah? Prove company headquarters received it!
The good news is, you can get them to stop upon request if you take a couple extra steps. Here's how.
Write them a letter demanding that they cease and desist and remove you from any and all subscriber lists. Keep it brief (under one page). Keep it polite, because you are going to be copying several organizations on this letter. You don't want to look like a crank. When in doubt, eliminate all adjectives and adverbs. Make four copies of this letter.
1. Send one to Bottom Line Books. Think that sending it to Des Moines Iowa will be effective? Wrong. That is only a processing center. Their actual headquarters is:
281 Tresser Blvd 8th Flr
Stamford CT 06901-3284
2. Important: Make sure that you send a copy to the Better Business Bureau. Since Des Moines is only a processing center, it does no good to complain to the Iowa BBB. You need to contact the Connecticut BBB at the following address:
94 South Turnpike Road
Wallingford, CT 06492
3. Send a copy to your state attorney general. No action is happening at the federal level to stop Negative Option marketing, but there has been some progress at the state level. Do your bit for public service.
4. Save a copy for your personal records.
New York, New York