Small checks that enroll you in some service aren't new; credit card companies have used them for many years to trick customers into signing up for balance insurance and other extras. As horrible as these tactics are, they always have a paragraph on the back of the check telling you what will happen if you cash it. According to user stickfig on The Consumerist boards the warning on this check reads;
"I authorize Great Fun to charge the annual membership fee after my free trial. I agree to a thirty-day trail offer in Great Fun. I understand that the $149.99 annual membership fee will be charged to my credit card on file with Snuggie unless I cancel my membership by calling 1-866-709-4170 before the end of the trial period. My membership will be automatically renewed and I will also be charged every year thereafter at the then-current fee unless I call to cancel for a refund of the unused portion of the current year's fee. By cashing this check I authorize Snuggie to securely transfer my credit card information to Great Fun for enrollment, billing and benefit processing"
It's pretty clear what will happen once you cash this check. What you really need to ask yourself is whether or not the "rebate" -- which won't even cover the cost of a movie ticket -- is worth the time and hassle to call and cancel your membership to Great Fun. If you have any doubts about the danger of dealing with Great Fun, the 24 pages of complaints at the Complaints Board should make it very evident that you're not dealing with a straight-up company.
The fact that Snuggie has shared, or likely sold, your information to Great Fun to cover the cost of the second "free" Snuggie only adds to the list of reasons not to buy from infomercials. In most cases you can buy the exact same item at a big box store without the obscene shipping and handling charges.
If you absolutely must order it from the infomercial, log onto your credit card website and create a onetime use number with a limit matching the cost of your purchase. This way, you won't ever have to worry about recurring credit card charges for monthly shipments, oddball services such as Great Fun and whatever else these bottom feeding companies come up with to try and take your money without providing anything in return.
Finally, with all the check fraud going around these days, you shouldn't even think twice about cashing a check you weren't already expecting. If it's not signing you up into a fake service, it's likely part of an advance fee scam, which will bring you a whole new world of pain. Next time a check comes with this warning, throw it in the shredder, use it to start your next campfire, clean up after your dog on a walk; anything other than cashing it!
Because the old adage still stands: There is no free lunch!
As Seen on TV Product Reviews
Small checks that enroll you in some service aren't new; credit card companies have used them for many years to trick customers into signing up for balance insurance and other extras. Infomercials are full of tricks. Browse through this gallery to view some products sold on TV.
Cassandra Shie, AOL
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