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Mail order scams 

Mail order shopping has its problems. It is difficult to assess the quality of products offered for sale and obtaining a refund can be a hassle. To make matters worse, some mail order offers are bare-faced frauds.

The case of the missing Reeboks

Each year Fair Trading receives many complaints about mail orders. Most have a familiar ring. The goods don't measure up to the glossy advertisement. Refunds take forever. There can be long delays in deliveries. Or after posting off your cash, you may never hear from the mail order outlet again.

While outright fraud is the exception, mail order shopping lends itself to deception. An example was a scam carried off by an outfit calling itself R E Jones and Associates. It offered cheap sportswear for sale and its professional-looking catalogue targeted proprietors of squash courts and other sporting venues.

Customers were invited to send their cheques to a Sydney suburban post office box. It wasn’t long before Fair Trading began receiving a flood of complaints about non-delivery. But by the time Fair Trading became involved the trail had gone cold. The perpetrators had pocketed the cash and vanished.

Our tip: With the growth of telemarketing, this way of buying is destined to become more popular. By dealing with traders who are members of the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) who have agreed to follow an industry code of practice, consumers can reduce their chances of getting stung.

Visit the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) website