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How to deal with magazine scam?

DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
Hi all, I have an issue where my fiancee was called very early in the morning and accidentally agreed to pay for a ton of magazines for 12 months. Contacted the company and they lowered the payments, but informed us we could not cancel. Unfortunately, they do have my fiancees credit card number and address. Is there anything we can do to fight this? Would reporting them to the better business Bureau do anything?

PSN: Drakieon XBL: Drakieon Steam: TheDrakeon

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    KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Contact your credit card company and try to dispute the charges?

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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Kyougu wrote: »
    Contact your credit card company and try to dispute the charges?

    This.

    Also, how do you accidentally agree to order magazine subscriptions and give them your card?

    But, I digress, just tell your credit card company you didn't agree. If they send a bill in the mail ask for proof that it was ordered by your fiancee. If they ding your credit, dispute it. If they take you to court for it, you'll need that proof, if they don't have it, they're fucked. Get ready for collection calls, too, study up on FDCPA, and keep studious records, then sue the pants off them ($1000 per violation).

    Those are going to probably answer your 4 followup questions in the next few months.

    Watch your credit card/credit like a hawk from this point out. I'd ask them for a new card, actually.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah, I was going to say "report the card lost." I have had to do that with places that wouldn't let me cancel a service or subscription after multiple phone calls. Those places are awful, and I have run into far too many.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    I've had one that send me a physical bill and "packages" that I didn't order and tried to charge me for them.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    bowen wrote: »
    I've had one that send me a physical bill and "packages" that I didn't order and tried to charge me for them.

    Yeah, it won't stop them sending you things and trying to get you to pay for them (for a while at least) or all the other frustration, but at least they can no longer just take your money regardless of what you say.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    I've had one that send me a physical bill and "packages" that I didn't order and tried to charge me for them.

    Most people don't realize this, but there are laws out there to protect you from this.
    Receipt of Unsolicited Merchandise

    A company sends you a gift in the mail--a ball point pen, a key chain, a tie. But you didn't order it. What do you do? If you are the type of person this company is looking for, you may feel guilty about accepting the item without paying for it. Don't feel guilty! It's yours, and you are under no obligation to pay anything.

    You, the consumer, may only legally be sent two types of merchandise through the mail without your consent or agreement:

    Free samples which are clearly and conspicuously marked as such.

    Merchandise mailed by a charitable organization that is soliciting contributions.

    And in these two cases, you can consider the merchandise a gift if you wish. In all other situations, it is illegal to send merchandise to someone, unless that person has previously ordered or requested it.

    These rules are codified in Title 39, United States Code, Section 3009. That section of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 incorporates these protections for American consumers and makes the mailing of unordered merchandise unfair methods of competition and unfair trade practices under the law.

    If you do not wish to pay for unsolicited merchandise or make a donation to a charity sending such an item, you may do one of three things (in each case, by law, you have no obligation to the sender):

    If you have not opened the package, you may mark it "Return to Sender," and the Postal Service will return it with no additional postage charged to you.

    If you open the package and don't like what you find, you may throw it away.

    If you open the package and like what you find, you may keep it for free. In this instance, "finders-keepers" applies unconditionally.

    Furthermore, it is illegal for a company that sends you unordered merchandise to follow the mailing with a bill or dunning communication.

    If you are aware of violations of the federal law prohibiting the mailing of unordered merchandise, or if you have personally had difficulty with such items--especially if you are sent statements demanding payment for the merchandise--you should contact you local postmaster or the nearest Postal Inspector.

    https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/othertypes/UnsolicitedFraud.aspx

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    MrDelishMrDelish Registered User regular
    tldr: unsolicited merchandise is legally yours. When I worked at the USPS call center people would get really confused when I told them that they could keep whatever thing they received in the mail without issue.

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    zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    According to the OP, his fiancee agreed to receive the magazines and provided a credit card number, so it becomes much more difficult to argue that what they receive was unsolicited. IANAL, but it makes it a bit more murky, especially if you start dealing with a chargeback...so don't let them place the charge in the first place.

    I'd simply recommend that they report the card as lost (if it hasn't been charged already) to prevent any charges. Mark any magazines they receive as 'Return to Sender', and send a registered letter w/ receipt verification to the payment processor. State that any order was taken in error, any inventory received has been / will be returned to sender, and any charges should be cancelled immediately.

    If your fiance feels she was misled or lied to about the payment terms, put that in your registered letter as well. Don't lie, but definitely make it clear if the person on the phone said this was a trial, she could cancel at any time, the prices weren't clear, etc that she was intentionally misled. Save a copy of the letter, staple your receipt from the post office (and return receipt when it comes back), and put it in a file.

    Also, if it was an unsolicited sales call on her cell phone, note that as well. Especially if her number is on the 'Do Not Call' registry.

    Familiarize yourself with FDCPA, keep a log of any contact, and keep an eye on your credit report.

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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    MrDelish wrote: »
    tldr: unsolicited merchandise is legally yours. When I worked at the USPS call center people would get really confused when I told them that they could keep whatever thing they received in the mail without issue.

    Yup, I had to cite both laws and tell them tough luck, don't be stupid next time. So OP, keep all this shit in mind.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Also, people need to understand that the BBB is completely useless. Don't bother reporting a company to them, they don't do anything at all. They are completely toothless. Even if they do rate a company lower (which often doesn't even happen with many unresolved complaints), that lower rating doesn't really mean jack shit and doesn't really affect the business in any meaningful way. Look up Stamps.com on BBB's website and you'll see they have lots of unresolved complaints, yet they're still BBB accredited (which also doesn't really mean anything).

    belruelotterav-1.jpg
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Good luck on all this. It SOUNDS to me like you legally purchased a year of magazine subscriptions from them, and that while they may be shady they might be following the letter of the law, leaving you SOL. Scrutinize the heck out of everything to see if you can find a way out.

    What is this I don't even.
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    DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Yeah, it's not completely unsolicited, but they asked her to confirm a credit card and she had assumed it had to do with wedding stuff. They didn't bring magazines up until way later in the conversation.

    It was definitely shady. They said I couldn't cancel because it was all prepaid. Does reporting the card stolen work if we've already talked to them on the phone?

    Already had a talk with my fiancee you never give out credit card info on the phone. She had gotten the call around 7am and was still waking up when they were talking to her, so that's why it was by accident.

    Drakeon on
    PSN: Drakieon XBL: Drakieon Steam: TheDrakeon
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Drakeon wrote: »
    Yeah, it's not completely unsolicited, but they asked her to confirm a credit card and she had assumed it had to do with wedding stuff. They didn't bring magazines up until way later in the conversation.

    It was definitely shady. They said I couldn't cancel because it was all prepaid. Does reporting the card stolen work if we've already talked to them on the phone?

    I feel less bad about this now.

    Just tell the credit card company that you were mislead because they misrepresented themselves initially, you want to block and cancel their transaction, and ask them to reissue a new card (pay the fee, trust me, it's worth it, they will try to keep charging your card over and over).

    Keep the rest of my advice in mind with the FDCPA and all that. It's going to get real hard. If they send you magazines, keep in mind that's yours. Oh and sending you a bill with them expecting it to be paid? Illegal just like someone else said. They can't send you stuff you didn't agree to pay for.

    Don't report it stolen just yet.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    Drakeon wrote: »
    Yeah, it's not completely unsolicited, but they asked her to confirm a credit card and she had assumed it had to do with wedding stuff. They didn't bring magazines up until way later in the conversation.

    It was definitely shady. They said I couldn't cancel because it was all prepaid. Does reporting the card stolen work if we've already talked to them on the phone?

    I feel less bad about this now.

    Just tell the credit card company that you were mislead because they misrepresented themselves initially, you want to block and cancel their transaction, and ask them to reissue a new card (pay the fee, trust me, it's worth it, they will try to keep charging your card over and over).

    Keep the rest of my advice in mind with the FDCPA and all that. It's going to get real hard. If they send you magazines, keep in mind that's yours. Oh and sending you a bill with them expecting it to be paid? Illegal just like someone else said. They can't send you stuff you didn't agree to pay for.

    Don't report it stolen just yet.

    Alright, I'll get that started tonight. Thanks guys.

    PSN: Drakieon XBL: Drakieon Steam: TheDrakeon
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Oh, shit yeah, man. If they asked you to "confirm your credit card" they were being some fraudulent bastards.

    Of course, also have a serious talk with your fiancee about why she shouldn't ever give out the credit card number over the phone to anyone who asks for it, even if she's sleepy.

    What is this I don't even.
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    We're here for you, I've been through an almost exactly similar situation and it ended up with me getting a whole bunch of garbage I didn't want in them attempting to extort payment from me. So, I can give pretty solid advice on how to not pay them and get your money back.

    Just keep us updated with the goings on.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
    We called the credit card company and disputed the charges.

    Oh, and they tried to Strongarm my Fiancee into getting all of their money right now. We're going to have to dispute another charge (for $200+) tomorrow or the next day. They called her up and said she could save $100 if we did 2 payments of $230 instead of 24 payments equaling a total of $570 or so. Her credit card company just told us to call back and dispute that in a day or two when it goes through. They did this and told her the offer was good for 2 minutes, essentially, strongarming her into agreeing to it before she could call me. So, suffice to say, fuck this scumbag company. Publishers Promotional Services is the name of said scumbag company.

    Just to clarify, we don't have to worry about them sending us bills in the mail because we don't owe them anything, correct?

    PSN: Drakieon XBL: Drakieon Steam: TheDrakeon
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    The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Just to clarify, we don't have to worry about them sending us bills in the mail because we don't owe them anything, correct?

    They may send bills; just do not pay them. Keep them around, though, in case they go to a collection company, if you have to go to court later, etc.

    With Love and Courage
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    SiskaSiska Shorty Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Oh, they may send you the bill, you just don't pay it. If any of the product shows up mark it as return to sender. Tell her to hang up if they call again. Just say I don't want your product, stop calling me and then hang up. Don't engage in a debate over the phone. If they keep calling send a certified letter formally asking them to stop. Keep an eye on her credit report and dispute any ding attempts. Also, if she hasn't, request to have that CC number cancelled and a new one issued. Just say that she doesn't trust this company and that she considers that number compromised.

    Siska on
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    The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    ...Whatever happened to the days of normal sales? Like, you glad hand somebody, you show them a product that you yourself are excited about, and they buy it because it's just a good fucking product? What happened to that? Now it's just bullshit Internet/phone scams like the OP dealt with, extended warranties and 'service packages' that are more or less 100% revenue padding.

    Whatever, I guess that's D&D material, if even that. OP, like everyone said, get the credit card cancelled, and if you have the time maybe file a complaint with the better business bureau or another consumer protection agency. Hopefully some heads roll.

    With Love and Courage
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    DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    The Ender wrote: »
    Just to clarify, we don't have to worry about them sending us bills in the mail because we don't owe them anything, correct?

    They may send bills; just do not pay them. Keep them around, though, in case they go to a collection company, if you have to go to court later, etc.

    Alright. Jesus Christ, I wish companies like this were illegal.

    Is it necessary to cancel the credit card? They told us they would refuse any further charges.

    Drakeon on
    PSN: Drakieon XBL: Drakieon Steam: TheDrakeon
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    The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Drakeon wrote: »
    The Ender wrote: »
    Just to clarify, we don't have to worry about them sending us bills in the mail because we don't owe them anything, correct?

    They may send bills; just do not pay them. Keep them around, though, in case they go to a collection company, if you have to go to court later, etc.

    Alright. Jesus Christ, I wish companies like this were illegal.

    Is it necessary to cancel the credit card? They told us they would refuse any further charges.

    What they did is probably borderline illegal; they just get away with it because, hey, who's gonna go to the trouble of trying to chase them down? That's the other component of being so aggressive - people being victimized by them are always just on the defensive.

    With Love and Courage
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    SiskaSiska Shorty Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Better safe then sorry. In case the people on the other side decide to cross the line from shady to outright theft and start charging a bunch of other crap. And She's not cancelling the card as in cancelling the account, in case that is not clear. She is just getting a new card with different numbers.

    Never give some random person that call you out of the blue your CC info, no matter who they claim to be with. Everything they say might be a lie.

    Siska on
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    The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Siska wrote: »
    Better safe then sorry. In case the people on the other side decide to cross the line from shady to outright theft and start charging a bunch of other crap. And She's not cancelling the card as in cancelling the account, in case that is not clear. She is just getting a new card with different numbers.

    Never give some random person that call you out of the blue your CC info, no matter who they claim to be with. Everything they say might be a lie.

    Not only does the bolded need to be seconded, but I'd extend this advice to just about all personal information these days. Social security number, birthdate, address - I don't even provide my full name anymore, because cold call companies go fishing through social media websites to try and find ways to con you or at least harass you. Just Goddamn.

    With Love and Courage
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    Zoku GojiraZoku Gojira Monster IslandRegistered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Druhim wrote: »
    Also, people need to understand that the BBB is completely useless. Don't bother reporting a company to them, they don't do anything at all. They are completely toothless. Even if they do rate a company lower (which often doesn't even happen with many unresolved complaints), that lower rating doesn't really mean jack shit and doesn't really affect the business in any meaningful way. Look up Stamps.com on BBB's website and you'll see they have lots of unresolved complaints, yet they're still BBB accredited (which also doesn't really mean anything).

    This.

    The BBB basically exists to exploit the perception among the public (or at least senior citizens) that the term 'bureau' somehow means that a government agency is involved. How well do you trust a bunch of bullshitters to regulate a bunch of other bullshitters, is the real question.

    Also, credit cards aren't for use over the phone. The only circumstance in which these digits should ever go out over a phone line is if you have DSL, and even then they should be encrypted. Ever get nervous about how long it's taking a waiter to return with your credit card? Well, he lives in 'Murrica, where there's an effective legal system that will throw him in jail if he's caught swapping those digits online. The person who's on the phone with you could be almost anywhere.

    Zoku Gojira on
    "Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are." - Bertolt Brecht
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    Drakeon wrote: »
    The Ender wrote: »
    Just to clarify, we don't have to worry about them sending us bills in the mail because we don't owe them anything, correct?

    They may send bills; just do not pay them. Keep them around, though, in case they go to a collection company, if you have to go to court later, etc.

    Alright. Jesus Christ, I wish companies like this were illegal.

    Is it necessary to cancel the credit card? They told us they would refuse any further charges.

    What they did is probably borderline illegal; they just get away with it because, hey, who's gonna go to the trouble of trying to chase them down? That's the other component of being so aggressive - people being victimized by them are always just on the defensive.

    It's illegal.

    Also if they keep calling, tell them they have to validate the debt by mail (just sending you a bill isn't validation) and further phone calls and charges will be in violation of the FDCPA and you will file suit against them if it continues.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Drakeon wrote: »
    We called the credit card company and disputed the charges.

    Oh, and they tried to Strongarm my Fiancee into getting all of their money right now. We're going to have to dispute another charge (for $200+) tomorrow or the next day. They called her up and said she could save $100 if we did 2 payments of $230 instead of 24 payments equaling a total of $570 or so. Her credit card company just told us to call back and dispute that in a day or two when it goes through. They did this and told her the offer was good for 2 minutes, essentially, strongarming her into agreeing to it before she could call me. So, suffice to say, fuck this scumbag company. Publishers Promotional Services is the name of said scumbag company.

    Just to clarify, we don't have to worry about them sending us bills in the mail because we don't owe them anything, correct?

    They may send you bills. Since they misrepresented themselves, you don't necessarily owe them anything but you may have to fight or fight a ding on your credit history.

    If you've contacted the credit card company and told them that they misrepresented themselves, and you wish to block / cancel the transaction, you are doing everything you can there. Credit card companies and their fraud prevention usually will work with you, because if they don't people won't want to use their cards. Ask them to re-issue you a new card though, even if there is a fee.

    If it's a prepaid card and the bank won't re-issue it, empty the balance and get a new one. In fact, if she has accounts at the bank that issued the card, it may be in her best interest to remove the money from them. There is a decent chance the chargeback will be refused, and you'll have to fight over it...banks can do crappy stuff (freeze accounts, even if they can't take money from them) until things are settled. The last thing you want is for her not to be able to pay rent / get gas / buy groceries until the dispute is resolved.

    Mark any product they send you as 'return to sender'. Document and save any communications and anything you receive.

    If they call, do what bowen said and tell them to send any future communication by mail, and you will file suit under FDCPA if they call again. Document everything.

    EDIT - and never give a credit card number to someone over the phone. Especially when they call you.

    zagdrob on
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    They will attempt to ship things via carriers that won't verify you're actually home too, what's great is that's illegal and the product becomes yours. If someone ships you a stealth bomber by accident, legally you own it. You don't have to pay for it since it was their mistake.

    Keep meticulous records. Return to sender if possible, if not, don't even acknowledge you got anything.

    Who is to say someone didn't steal the 52 magazines off your step every week?

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
    When I contact Visa again to dispute the bigger charge (since it was pending before), I'll ask them to reissue a new card. It's a card associated with a bank, but I don't think she has a bank account there, so no worries in that regard.

    I've told her to ignore all future calls from them, should I have her answer if they call to tell them to send future communication by mail?

    Oh and should I be sending the bills back to them too? Or just the magazines?

    PSN: Drakieon XBL: Drakieon Steam: TheDrakeon
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    matt has a problemmatt has a problem Points to 'off' Points to 'on'Registered User regular
    You should contact your state's Attorney General, too. They love cases like this, it's their bread and butter.

    nibXTE7.png
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    MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Cancel the card.
    Just write "return to sender" on the magazines. Do not open them.

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    DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
    Just filed a complaint with the California Attorney General, thanks for the heads up. Not sure anything will come of it, but beats not reporting it.

    PSN: Drakieon XBL: Drakieon Steam: TheDrakeon
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    DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Update: Attorney General attached a letter from the company that stated they are crediting her all her money back and have placed her on the do not call list. I don't know for sure, but I have a hunch that getting a letter from the CA attorney general helped this matter along. A huge thanks to everyone for all the advice.

    Drakeon on
    PSN: Drakieon XBL: Drakieon Steam: TheDrakeon
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    That is great news!

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    haha, awesome. yeah these companies rely on the fact that most people are stupid and will not fight it.

    Damn, 250 bucks for magazines?

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    WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    Just for future reference depending on your area you may have access to 'cooling off' period as a consumer. For example I know in Ontario within 10 days you can return anything no questions asked (even if you've signed up for a term contract for say a cell phone company.) For reference here is the information for Ontario (mostly to help you find details so you can find the equivalent for whatever state whoever needs the information lives in): http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Cancel_a_Contract.aspx

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    grouch993grouch993 Both a man and a numberRegistered User regular
    I have heard 72 hours for unsolicited sales, not sure if that was federal or state for the USA.

    Steam Profile Origin grouchiy
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