If You Ask Me, Sounds Like You Are Dying To Get Ripped Off!! (written August, 1999)

Got a very nice call from a very nice woman the other day. She had that soft and pleasant southern voice I like. Here’s how she opened, “Hi, My Name is so-so and I have been scammed before and when  I join your program, I don’t want to be scammed again……etc.”  I stopped her in her tracks by asking her, why is she telling me she has been scammed before? What has that got to do with me?  Why don’t you call up the people that scammed you and tell them that? She said to me the all too common statement, “I do not have their phone number.” So I asked her, you sent your money to some company that you never spoke to and never heard of? And then spent money to promote it and got ZIPPO and you are wondering why you feel ripped off? Sounds to me like you are dying to get ripped off!!  Why you ask?

Hey I am not trying to be insensitive to anybody’s feelings. I feel sorry for you tremendously.  I hear the same story all the time. What bugs me is that a little common sense goes a long long long way!!  Wouldn’t you agree? I have feelings just like you. I get upset, depressed, excited, enthusiastic, mad, and aggravated just like you!  So don’t think I am any different than you and don’t think I think I am any different than you. We are all the same – maybe I have a little more knowledge than you in this mail order business, but I am sure you have a lot more knowledge than I do in another business.  My point is that I am just like you. For that reason alone, it baffles me that we do not use more common sense. I’ll explain….

We all get many exciting and enticing offers in the mail each and every day for any and everything. All of us do. That is one of the exciting parts of our business!! It’s fun to get and read mail! (maybe my life is real boring?) However all of these ads have some form of “puffery”, including mine. It’s called Advertising. All businesses in all industries use some form of “puffery” to entice you and I to purchase their product, join their program, use their service, eat their food, visit their shops,  etc., etc., etc. We all know this. Mail order is not any different, nor should it be. Here’s where it becomes risky and here’s where so many of us make that fatal mistake that allows us to be ripped off – we don’t use common sense. We accept the ad for what it says at face value and we do not investigate any further.  Let’s say for example that you get a flyer in the mail or through someone’s mailing and it definitely fits the bill for you.  You are excited and you have now found the program that will answer your financial dreams! Great!! Here’s the first very risky proposition: You notice they work out of a postal box and they have no phone number. That should be your first clue – your first red flag – there could be something very, very, very wrong with this company and with this program. Hey!! Stop screaming at me!! I didn’t say all companies must list their phone number. I’m just saying it’s just a red flag for you to investigate further before you spend your hard earned money.  First thing I do is call the telephone company using their area code plus 555-1212. That is Information. I ask for the name of the company in that city. If they don’t have one, that is definitely a more serious red flag. No problem though. Here’s how to get their telephone number – just write to them and ask them for it. Say something like, “I am very interested in your opportunity, would you please provide me with your telephone number so I may call you and ask you questions.” That is a very reasonable request. Isn’t it? If they don’t write back, you saved yourself a lot of aggravation. If they write back and tell you they are a mail order by mail only company, be skeptical. Why? Well when you are upset, confused, or need clarification, who are you going to call? The phantom? Though I am sure there are a few that exist, I do not know of one successful legitimate mail order company that does not take incoming calls – not one! If the company that you are interested in promoting does not accept incoming calls, but they accept your money, be concerned.  You have no way of contacting them other then the mails, so what good is a money back guarantee?  Save yourself trouble, don’t deal with any company or program that you can not contact by telephone first. Everybody I have ever talked to that has told me they were scammed dealt with these “unreachable” type of companies.  I know they are pressuring you for time to get in their opportunity, but I assure you a little research on your end will save you something that we can not put a value on – aggravation and stress!

Here are a couple of more ways to check up on any company.  Contact their local Better Business Bureau. If there is no record of them on file, be concerned. That is a another red flag!! If they have a record of them, but no telephone number, be concerned. BBB information specs specially ask for their real name and their telephone number, so if the BBB does not have that, be concerned.  If the BBB has them on record, has their telephone numbers, see how many complaints they have.  If there are a few complaints, don’t worry. Just make sure they responded to the complaints. If they have no complaints or many complaints, be concerned.  Every company has some complaints – no body can please everybody all the time. If they have no complaints, that probably means they have not been in business long enough, which is just another red flag because most businesses fail within a year or two – so if they have not been in business long enough, there is a good chance they will fail and therefore your money will go down the drain!!  Obviously if they have many complaints, there is a problem, so I do not need to elaborate on that.  Another way to check up on a company is to use the Internet.  Go to any search engine, like Yahoo, and type in their company name. If you can’t locate them, be concerned, that is a just another red flag – all companies have an internet presence.

Listen – before I get hate letters – I am not suggesting anything bad. What I am suggesting is this: If a company is legitimate and honest, there should be a way to contact them other than the mail and there should be some record that they exist – even if they are a new business.  As you may have noticed, I have a fax number, telephone number listed in the telephone book, e-mail address, website, postal box, street address, I am also listed with the BBB, I am listed with Dun & Bradstreet, and I am just a small company.  I can be reached, checked up on and I do exist. If you are interested in any program, before you put out your hard earned dollars and suffer the aggravation and stress associated with being involved in a business opportunity, make sure this company is for real because if you don’t, you will probably be tremendously disappointed and probably scammed and I don’t want to hear about it. You’ve been warned!!  On the other hand, when you do your due diligence and find out that this company is A-OK, then put your heart and soul into it. You know it will be worth it then!! Here is some last food for thought. I have been in this great Industry for many, many years. I have never done business with anybody unless I spoke to them first. Period!! If I could not contact them by telephone, I threw their opportunity in the garbage. By most accounts, I am considered very successful in this business so shouldn’t you be duplicating successful people? You’ll save yourself from dying to get ripped off!  That I guarantee!!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.