Saturday, January 12, 2008

Is This Maryland Power Company Committing Mail Fraud?

My friend Jim Gardner wrote on his Blog this morning :

"Over the last month or so our local MD power company, Allegheny Power has sent us 2 small boxes containing 4 of the CFL light bulbs and a small brochure on the benefits of using this new type of lighting. I thought wow what a great idea that is of them to do that. It impressed me they would go to that distance to educate us consumers. STOP. not so fast."

The company seems to have sent unsolicited Energy Saving bulbs and will be charging for them over the next few months. Most people think USPS delivers it so you don't know your options. My friend @chazFrench alerted me that "postal law is clear you do not have to pay for unsolicited merchandise."

Here is the link to the rules on the USPS website :

If you do not wish to pay for unsolicited merchandise or make a donation to a charity sending such an item, you may do one of three things (in each case, by law, you have no obligation to the sender):

  • If you have not opened the package, you may mark it "Return to Sender," and the Postal Service will return it with no additional postage charged to you.

  • If you open the package and don't like what you find, you may throw it away.

  • If you open the package and like what you find, you may keep it for free. In this instance, "finders-keepers" applies unconditionally.

Furthermore, it is illegal for a company that sends you unordered merchandise to follow the mailing with a bill or dunning communication.

Just like Jimmy many people may not even see their bills as they usually would have direct payment. I would strongly advice people to check thier bills, bank statements and Credit card ststements throroughly. ( i do it every month).

Please DIgg @JJgardner3's post

Update : Jim Gardner posted a update on his Blog " East Coast Blogging" that Allegheny Power has come out and resolved the issue.

Allegheny Power took full responsibility today for inadequately notifying customers they would be charged for two lightbulbs sent through the mail as part of the program.
“Allegheny Power accepts full responsibility for the customer confusion and delivery issues,” Allegheny President David Flitman wrote in response to a letter from members of the Western Maryland delegation of the General Assembly.

Allegheny sent 220,000 customers two energy-efficient bulbs, billing $11.52 for them in 12 monthly payments of 96 cents. The move prompted outrage and complaints to the state’s utilities agency, the Maryland Public Service Commission and the power company that the charges were not clearly explained.

read more | digg story

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