San Jose Mercury News — high pressure sales tactics/automatic renewal
The San Jose Mercury News employs high pressure sales tactics such as having groups of "students" solicit donations which include what appears to be a fixed length subscription to the San Jose Mercury News. A group of three women came up to me while I watching my children play in our developments. They were extremely insistent and claimed they would wind up on drugs and not be able to go to college if I did not help them out. I told them no several times. Told them I did not have any money on me and they would not take no for an answer. They asked me where I lived and said they would watch my children while I went to get the money. One of them then took my youngest son's hand. I should have called the police, but instead out of fear I went and got them the $20. While I was in my house one of them followed me in and told me I had to call a phone number. The other two had my two children outside. Honestly I did not listen to anything that was said as I just wanted my children back and these women to leave. I was hoping it was all for the best and that they did not mean to be so threatening and that I had done a good thing by helping them get to college.
This weekend however I was shocked to get a letter from a collection agency, "Coast to Coast Solutions" saying I owed $16.11 for a bill I had never received from the San Jose Mercury News. Apparently, the "donation" includes a subscription that automatically renews unless you cancel within a certain amount of time.
The woman who came into my house extracted a promise from me not to cancel because then she would not get her college money. I thought she meant call and cancel right away because that is what I should have done. I did not know that I would have to cancel immediately. I did not cancel because I was afraid she would come back.
I am sure most people just pay "Coast to Coast Solutions" immediately since the amount is small and the hassle is otherwise large, but I was so upset, mainly at myself for giving into this pressure sales force in the beginning that I fought the charges. I called the San Jose Mercury News at [protected] and after I explained that I had " just wanted to make a donation to the school" and did not want the subscription they agreed to forgive the charges. So as it currently stands the $16.11 that I owe will be erased at least according to the representative I spoke to. This is in contrast to what I was told by Coast to Coast Solutions who said that the San Jose Mercury News would have no record of this bill and that it had been transferred to them.
So, if you feel that you have been tricked into an automatic subscription with the San Jose Mercury News through this "donation" process, I would recommend contacting the San Jose Mercury News at [protected] and explaining the situation. I also requested proof of the charges in a letter to Coast to Coast Solutions, but that was because I was not able to contact San Jose Mercury News on the weekend.
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