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Fair Go: Mail order hassles

Published: 6:11PM Wednesday March 25, 2009

Reporter: Kevin Milne

96 year-old Beatrice Woodward of Porirua bought a book from US mail-order book firm, Rodale. She received the book then paid for it in two installments.

Both cheques were cashed by Rodale. She then received a letter from Rodale saying her two instalments were now due. She says she wrote and said she had already paid them.

She then got a "seriously overdue account" letter, saying no payment had been received. She panicked and sent another check for the full amount of the book which was duly cashed by Rodale. Again, she says she wrote and explained.

Having paid for the book twice now, a month later she receives a "final notice" from Rodale saying "You have refused to pay the money you owe us."

She's threatened with debt collectors and being permanently assigned to Rodale's bad debt register.

She gets a community lawyer to write to Rodale, but there's no response. Fair Go calls Rodale in Australia - they tell us a manager will call back - he doesn't.

We contact Rodale in the United States. They send her a letter full of platitudes about customer service, offer her a free book if she writes to their PR people, and assure her that her account is now settled. They blame their partner company in Australia, But no refund.

We contact Rodale again who tell us that they've used the extra money to pay for other books Beatrice has ordered. Beatrice disputes that she has other debts with Rodale.

We then hear back from then with the message that a cheque for Beatrice is in the mail.

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