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"Designer Checks" is one of those companies that publishes ads in the Sunday newspaper supplement that offering customized bank checks at low prices. Finally, here's the lowdown on their offer!

The ad in a recent Sunday supplement claims that first-time customers can get 4 boxes of one-part checks for $16.50, or 4 boxes of duplicate checks for $19.50, with no charge for shipping. Let's compare this to what I'm charged if I go to the web site without using a promotional codes:

Those 4 boxes of checks are now either $36.80 for single-part checks or $45.80 for duplicate checks. I will choose decline the anti-fraud feature at $1.50 per box. I'll also pass up the opportunity to purchase check registers at $2.50 a piece, a fancy checkbook cover for $17.95, or a fancy font for another $2.50.

However, I am concerned how long I'll have to wait to get the checks. Since I'm anxious about getting those checks, I agree to pay an extra $5.95 for "in-plant rush". Designer Checks promises they will ship my checks within two business days following order "verification".

But that's not all... I can choose "standard shipping", will could take up to 10 business days, for a cost of $10.60. The "recommended" shipping is "UPS Ground". This has the benefit of providing me with a tracking number and reduces the upper limit on expected ship time of from 10 to 5 business days. That will run me $18.55.

The total, before tax and tip, comes to $64.35.

Now I'll just enter in my secret offer code, printed at the bottom of the brochure in the Sunday newspaper supplement, and let's see what happens:

Doing this, they throw in some address labels at no additional charge, but I'm still paying $5.95 for the rush processing and the recommended shipping that cuts the expected upper limit on the shipping time from 10 business days to 5 business days. With this, my cost is cut almost in half, to just $33.40.

That's certainly a huge improvement... the savings of over $30 will buy a bunch of double cheeseburgers at McDonald?'s.

But that's not actually what I ordered. I said forget about the in-plant rush processing and forget about the "recommended" shipping. Total cost: $19.50.

I was still concerned about how long it would take. Would I have to wait a long time before it shipped? Would I wait days and days before they processed the order, and then another 1 to 2 weeks for shipment?

Those must be worst-case scenarios, because the order was printed within two days, and it was sent via UPS from ther Colorado plant to my California home in 3 business days.

In short, I would have paid an extra $13.90 for the privilege of having Designer Checks send me the UPS tracking number.

Now I haven't gotten to the scam yet. Sure, there are people paying over $60 to get the same checks for which I paid under $20; sure, people pay an extra $14 for faster processing that's probably not any faster, which is exactly the kind of thing that the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted other companies for.

But the real scam is: In orders I've received from other check printers, each box of duplicate checks contained 150 checks; each box of checks from Designer Check contained 5 pads of 25 checks (plus 4 deposit slips), or just 125 checks. I got the equivalent of 3 1/3 boxes of checks... so much for their "4th box free" promotion.

There's nowhere, either in the printed advertisement or on the web site, that this is revealed.

Certainly, Designer Checks is free to have as many or as few checks per box, but they have deliberately omitted this material information. They've effectively created an ambiguous contract. Furthermore, by packaging this as 5 pads of 25 checks, they know that even fewer people will notice that they have been "short-shipped".

The charge for "rush shipping", when there is in fact no expedited processing of the order, is fraudulent, as are the implications that UPS ground shipping will be 5 days faster than standard shipping; generally, USP expected shipping time is only 1 day faster than USPS expected shipping times... and for about $1 more (for a 4-box order), USPS provides expected 2-day shipments for domestic shipments.

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Revision r1.1 - 07 Jul 2007 - 04:43 by EliMantel web search for EliMantel
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