Take complaints about bogus bills right to the top
Brookline-based Boston Common Press, best known for publishing Cook’s Illustrated magazine and producing the show “America’s Test Kitchen,’’ has also won a less-desirable reputation for how the company sells subscriptions and books.
Internet complaint boards are filled with stories from people who said they received collection letters for products they never ordered or books they didn’t want. Josh Sussman, a student at the University of California, said he received an offer in the mail earlier this year for some product from Cook’s Illustrated and tossed it in the trash.
“They claimed I ordered a book - a book that I never received. I definitely didn’t order anything,’’ he said. “Then they sent me a . . . billing notice that said my account was overdue.’’
Sussman filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont. After some back and forth, Common Press dropped its claim against him.
“They made it like they were clearing my account of charges as a favor to me,’’ Sussman said.
His story mirrors numerous others lodged with the BBB. The BBB logged five dozen complaints against the company in the past year - 142 in the past three. In comparison, Condé Nast, which publishes cooking magazine Bon Appétit and the Epicurious website as well as two dozen other popular titles, accumulated about 80 complaints over the past three years.
Common Press did not address specific questions about its practices. In a statement, David Mack, the company’s vice president of marketing said, “Although we handle more than 2 million book and magazine orders each year, our team of customer service professionals handles every customer inquiry personally and take every problem seriously.
“We do our best to respond to inquiries quickly and attempt to resolve each inquiry to the complete satisfaction of our customer. Like all companies, our customers are the reason we have a business, we are thankful for them, and we know that we have to earn their business each day.’’
If you receive a bill for a product you didn’t order, take these steps: Tell the company you didn’t order it and won’t pay for it, and file complaints with the state attorney general’s office, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Better Business Bureau.
Mitch Lipka is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/MitchLipka. He can be reached at ConsumerNews@Aol.com .