Beware of Hidden “Bonus Gifts”
I guess I’m on a roll here. First I warned you of pseudo-closed credit cards, and then phantom savings accounts. Now I want to warn you about a more diabolic plot to get your money: Hidden “Bonus Gifts”.
We’ve been subscribers of Runner’s World magazine for a few years now, but apparently when we renewed this past year, we unknowingly signed up to receive a Runner’s World Calendar. We got the calendar in the mail a couple months after resubscribing, and I figured it was just a bonus gift at no cost.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. It wasn’t free.
When I opened a letter that was inserted with the calendar, I saw they were “asking” for $19.95 for the calendar. It didn’t look like an invoice, so I brushed it off and just stuck it in a drawer. We just stuck the calendar on a pile (Stacie loves piles of paper) and didn’t think twice about it.
However, a few weeks later, we get an invoice for the calendar for $19.95. I said “I’m not paying for this crap” and stuck it in a drawer again. Two more invoices later, we get an “overdue invoice“. Uh oh.
So I called up Runner’s World, which I should have just done in the beginning, and explain I won’t pay $20 for something I didn’t order (or knowingly order) and that the calendar just isn’t worth it. Luckily I didn’t take it out of its shrink-wrapping, but unfortunately I threw out the original envelope. However, the customer service rep emailed me a return postage slip that I could affix to a new envelope.
I figured I could just go to the post office and use one of their free Priority Mail envelopes, but uh uh. I had to pay $2.29 for one of those plain bubble-wrap mailers because the return postage slip said “Bound Printed Matter”. I could have just cut up a paper bag and taped it together, but I didn’t have one handy so I shelled out the $2.29.
So the moral of the story here is:
- Always pay attention to the fine print
- Follow up immediately if you receive something you didn’t expect
- Ask the company to reimburse you for shipping (or pay directly for it)
- Keep all original documentation and envelopes in case you need to back up your claim or reuse the shipping materials