Careful when returning products
| May 13, 2021 1:00 AM
If you return a product by shipping it back to the seller, take some precautions.
Recently I learned of two cases where phones were returned to two of the largest cellphone providers nationally and in both cases the phone companies tried to stick the consumer with a huge bill, claiming they either did not receive the return or the item was broken when they did receive it.
So what can you do to prevent inaccurate claims from the recipient? Documentation at every step, including pictures, is your best defense.
Start by taking pictures of the item before putting it in the shipping box and again after putting it in the box, showing that it was packed with plenty of protection.
Once the box is sealed, take pictures of the outside showing that the box was intact and in good condition. Then whatever means you use to ship the package, obtain a tracking number and request a signature for receipt of the box.
Continue checking to ensure your item arrived timely and retain anything you can that indicates the item was received. Do these things and you'll be armed against any inappropriate charges the recipient throws at you.
In one of the two cases I referred to earlier, the consumer followed all of these steps and his case was easily fought in small claims court and he prevailed. The other case is still hanging in limbo with no credit being issued to the consumer.
• • •
Rental scams rising
The tight real estate rental market in the area has created the perfect breeding ground for scammers. With so many people looking for a place to live, coupled with the limited inventory of rentals, people are being targeted by scammers to fill out applications and hastily provide security deposits and first month’s rent — often before even seeing the property.
Scammers are copying authentic pictures from real online rental postings and are recreating a phony listing to trick unsuspecting renters. There's typically a background “story” as to why they can't meet you in person and ask you just to drive by the property to check it out.
Be especially mindful of classified listings on Craigslist, Apartments.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Realtor.com and Homes.com where many of these scams are perpetrated.
A couple of signs of a possible fraudulent rental are a sense of urgency to get it rented fast (which may mean asking for immediate payment) and offering a rent price lower than others on the market.
Those who want to rent should act with caution and do their due diligence. Do an online search to see if you come across the same listing on a different online site.
If you're remote, check out property management companies and research their online reviews. If possible, make sure to see the property in person and make sure the person or company you're dealing with is a legitimate representative.
If you aren’t able to see the property, have a trusted friend or property management company check it out for you. Remember, once you send the funds, you might not be able to get the money back.
• • •
Is North Shore Animal League legit?
A Coeur d’Alene reader received an email from the North Shore Animal League that it was sending her a notice of intent to deliver $50,000 cash allowance. She wanted to know if this was a scam or legitimate.
Turns out this is a marketing ploy to enter the recipient in a sweepstakes while at the same time asking for a donation to their charity.
The North Shore Animal League appears to be a legitimate charity from Port Washington, N.Y. The charity claims that it found sweepstakes are a great way to get people’s attention and to entice people to learn more about its mission.
However, it does seem a bit cheeky to tell someone you're going to give them money when your main goal is to clearly get them to give you money.
To learn more about a charity, check out Charity Navigator at www.CharityNavigator.com.
• • •
Remember: I’m on your side. If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist, a veterans advocate and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.