Wisconsin is one of about 30 states with some type of bedding labeling law. Wisconsin law requires proper labeling of bedding-related products in order to distinguish between remanufactured bedding made of secondhand material and bedding products manufactured of new material.
Have you received a package containing merchandise you didn't order? Perhaps you received a bracelet, sunglasses, or maybe empty packages arrive at your home every few days. These deliveries are likely part of a “brushing" scam.
Buying clubs attract consumers by advertising that members can buy goods at wholesale prices or at reduced rates from the manufacturer’s suggested list price. Members are usually required to pay a membership fee (and in some cases, an initiation fee) to join, which may range from a nominal price to hundreds of dollars.
Advertising has a great influence on our purchasing decisions. We are exposed to countless commercial messages every day persuading us to buy brand name products, creating images for us to adopt, and convincing us that we need and want more. Because of this, it is important for us to carefully examine ads to determine exactly what they are saying.
Wisconsin has a direct marketing law to protect consumers in telephone, e-mail, fax, mail and door-to-door transactions. This includes sales made in motel and hotel rooms and other places away from the seller’s place of business.
Fair and Trade Show Exhibitors
Most consumers assume that when they attend trade shows, fairs or home improvement seminars that all the businesses are reputable. This can be a very expensive assumption. While many exhibitors are professional and reputable, there may be some who have little experience or skill, or some who intentionally look for potential victims to scam.
When gas prices go up, it seems like the number of ads for gas-saving products does, too. Although there are practical steps you can take to increase your gas mileage, be on the lookout for gas-saving claims for automotive devices or oil and gas additives. Even for the few gas-saving products that have been found to work, the savings are small.
Gift cards are the modern day replacement of gift certificates. A gift card usually resembles a credit card and may display a specific theme. Some gift cards can be reloaded and used multiple times. Although Wisconsin does not regulate the sale of gift cards, the federal government does.
Overindulgence is often a popular theme during the holiday season – too much food, too much drink and too much spending. Overspending at the holidays can easily push you into serious and troublesome financial situations, or aggravate existing debt problems.
In-Home Sales Parties
In-home sales parties continue to grow in popularity. They vary from product to product and each company targets different ages and interests. These events can be a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, but there are things you should be aware of if you plan on attending or hosting an in-home sales party.
Junk Mail/Unwanted Calls
Do you feel overwhelmed by the flood of junk mail and telemarketing calls you receive? Experts estimate that Americans receive almost two million tons of junk mail every year, with the average person spending eight full months of his or her life just opening it. Telemarketing calls are time-consuming and irritating.
Thousands of consumers buy magazine subscriptions from legitimate sellers every year. Unfortunately, many consumers report problems related to magazine purchases, ranging from unfair selling practices to billing errors to scams.
Mail Order/Unordered Merchandise
The Wisconsin Mail Order Law helps consumers deal with a major mail order problem: failure to promptly deliver prepaid merchandise. The law covers any personal order where the seller solicits and accepts payment without any face-to-face contact.
Two basics of money scams:
1.) Wiring money is like sending cash; once it is sent, you cannot get it back. Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it is nearly impossible to reverse or track the money.
2.) Never agree to deposit a check from someone you do not know and then wire money back.
Mystery Shopper Scams
Do you love to shop? If so, you may be tempted by unsolicited emails or newspaper ads that claim you can earn a living as a secret or mystery shopper by dining at elegant restaurants, shopping at expensive stores or checking into luxurious hotels. However, marketers who promise lucrative jobs as mystery shoppers often do not deliver on their promises.
Negative Option Plans
A negative option is a marketing plan that basically states, “We will keep sending you our product or providing you with our service until you tell us to stop.” With a negative option plan, it is the responsibility of the consumer, not the seller, to cancel a contract or order.
Thinking of bidding in an online auction, or selling some of your stuff? Internet auctions are a great resource for shoppers and sellers, but you need to watch out for some pitfalls.
Online Private Party Sale
A private internet sale involves a person offering to sell a product, good or service to another person on a website. To make sure the product you are buying is legitimate and priced appropriately, do some research. Make sure the product or service you are prepared to buy actually exists and is reasonably priced. Read the fine print of the product’s description so you know exactly what you are buying.
Information for consumers on Wisconsin's Price Gouging Law and how to file a complaint.
Manufacturer’s rebates are offered for everyday purchases like toothpaste and shampoo as well as large ticket items like furnaces or a new car. While the Bureau of Consumer Protection has received many consumer complaints about rebates, rebating is a popular budget-saving technique when used properly.
Are you thinking of buying a new TV, refrigerator, couch or other “big-ticket” item? You may be considering the rent-to-own option. Rent-to-own ads are very inviting with low weekly or monthly payments, no credit checks and no down payments. DATCP urges consumers to first call the company to see what kind of terms are offered, then compare those terms to other options.
Misunderstandings about refund policies are common. Many problems could be prevented if consumers had a clear understanding of a business’ policy before paying a deposit or making a purchase. When evaluating a store’s return policy, ask for it in writing — do not just take the word of an employee.
Sales, refunds/returns, credit cards, loan offers, layaway, e-commerce and more — DATCP has one fact sheet to address all things shopping.
Surplus Goods and Government Sales
"Government seized cars from $200! Government foreclosed homes - buy for pennies on the dollar!" While these slogans catch your attention, most items in a surplus auction do not sell for these unbelievably low prices and terms. Government auction services sell goods at or below cost, or fair market value.
Toy Ads on TV
Toys advertised on television can be an important part of a child’s “wish list” for birthdays or holidays. And television advertisements are an important source of information about toys. After all, they show children new products and help illustrate what these products can do. But some children, especially young ones, may have trouble separating fact from fantasy in ads – figuring out how a toy works outside its imaginary setting or determining whether toy parts shown are sold separately.
Many consumers ask what the difference is between a “warranty” and a “guarantee.” There is no difference between the terms, but there can be a big difference between the warranties of two similar products manufactured by different firms.