By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Getting something in the mail you never ordered can actually have serious consequences for your financial health.

That might not sound fair, but the I-Team found many families are getting frustrated when they open their mailboxes.

It all started with one magazine for the Gruner family. “It just appeared out of the blue. We didn’t subscribe to it,” said Steve Gruner.

But it didn’t stop there. Soon a second and third magazine arrived. “Then when we knew something was going on and we need to look into this further. Because we certainly did not order any of these,” said Dianna Gruner.

Fearing a deluge of unwanted magazines, Steve called the magazines directly to cancel, but was told he couldn’t. “How can I as the quote unquote subscriber and recipient of this not have the control over stopping it?” asked Gruner.

Gruner was directed to a third party subscription service called Subco. He was told he consented to the subscriptions during some other unrelated transaction. Subco refused to provide any details.

Gruner was also told “that once the quote unquote promotional subscription period would end, we would be getting renewal notices and bills for it.”

On the Better Business Bureau website, Gruner found about 200 similar complaints against Subco. One person said they were receiving Sports Illustrated even though they never ordered it. Another questioned how their private information was obtained.

We called and emailed Subco, but they never responded.

Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs, said it is unfair for customers to be treated this way. But it is legal.

Promotional items like magazines are not the obligation of the recipient. But Anthony said that doesn’t mean you should ignore something like that if it just shows up in the mail.

“Now there is going to be trouble, because they’ve billed you and if you don’t pay they could turn that over to a collection agency. It could be reported on your credit report,” said Anthony.

The Federal Trade Commission is seeing a spike in complaints like the Gruners. It is federal law that any promotional offer be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.


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