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Does "Return Service Requested" mean what I hope it does?
November 11, 2010 10:58 AM   Subscribe

American Express sent me a book I didn't request and don't want. My card won't be charged as long as I return it within 90 days. Do I have to pay to send it back to them, or can I just write "Return to Sender" on the package?

"Return Service Requested" appears on the mailing label. I've just done some quick research on this term and it seems to mean that if a package is undeliverable as addressed, it will be returned to the sender at no charge. But maybe it also means that a delivered, opened, and unwanted piece of mail can be returned, too. Have you had any experience sending junk mail back to AmEx?

The cost to mail would be less than my card would be charged if the post office tosses it (or if I keep it), but I'd prefer not to pay for this experience at all.
posted by bethist to Grab Bag (14 answers total)
 
I've never heard of AmEx themselves sending you a book, but if:

* you didn't request it, and
* you don't want it, and
*you live in the US

Then: it's illegal for them to charge you for it.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:00 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I understand it, "return to sender" only works if the package hasn't been opened. The USPS doesn't know or care about your beef with AmEx.
posted by adamrice at 11:00 AM on November 11, 2010


Have you tried calling AMEX? If the value of the book is as low as you seem to be indicating, they will probably just credit your card and tell you to keep the book.
posted by COD at 11:06 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


How do they know you ever received it in the first place? Unless it was a traceable form of delivery, you could always say "Book? What book? When did you send me a book? I haven't received any books lately, did you mean to reach someone else?"
posted by aramaic at 11:10 AM on November 11, 2010


If you didn't open it, then yes, scribble on it in magic marker "return to sender" and put it in the outgoing mail.
And Tomorrowful is correct in that if you didn't request it, you're not required to pay for it, BUT: if you signed up for some "service" or weasel worded thing, then you may have inadvertently joined a "book of the month club" sham.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2010


Old'n'Busted: "if you signed up for some "service" or weasel worded thing, then you may have inadvertently joined a "book of the month club" sham."

I'd wager this is what happened.
posted by mkultra at 11:33 AM on November 11, 2010


But if it truly is unrequested, check out this link to shed some light on the legality of the situation.
posted by R a c h e l at 11:46 AM on November 11, 2010


Cooks Illustrated does this all the time. If you ever subscribed, they send postcards which you must return in a short time frame or they send you a book and later a bill. It's easy to miss the postcard and end up with the book. I just write RETURN TO SENDER--DELIVERY REFUSED on them and never have any trouble.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:46 AM on November 11, 2010


Call amex and politely insist that they tell you exactly how to handle it.

Depending on the card you have, their customer service is excellent and should shape things up for you in no time.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:55 AM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, just call Amex. No insisting necessary; they're super helpful!

crush-onastick: Cooks Illustrated does this all the time.

Not saying you're wrong, but I've subscribed to CI for years and never had this happen to me. Just another data point.

posted by joshuaconner at 12:00 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cooks Illustrated does this all the time

Oh they do, do they? And here I liked looking through CI on occasion and had thought about subscribing. Guess not now.


I hate to derail, but we've subscribed to CI for years--over a decade, certainly--and have never received such a postcard or an unwanted book.
posted by not that girl at 12:06 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Call AmEx. I would be thoroughly SHOCKED if they didn't resolve this promptly and nicely. They're really keen on happy customers and will do a lot to keep you that way. They'll let you know the right way to deal with it, and I would wager that they'll make sure it doesn't cost you either.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:09 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, everyone -- I'm going to give them a call.
posted by bethist at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2010


Just to clarify the CI thing...this isn't a problem if you subscribe to the magazine. It's only an issue if you take one of their "deals" on their special cookbook collections (Best 30-minute recipes etc.) because then you're automatically entered into the "awesome book club" crap. It's the price you pay for getting a cheap initial cookbook but it's really annoying and their fulfillment department is not so great anyway. Basically, love the magazine and the hardbound collections...hate the lame Columbia Tape and Record ploy re: cookbook purchases.
posted by victoriab at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2010


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