Yoga Journal: Your Direct Mail Did Not Leave Me Zen

On Friday, I received a Complete Guide to Home Yoga Practice DVD from Yoga Journal. I did not order it and thought, "What a nice gift from Yoga Journal." I remember receiving free coupons for Tulsi Tea from Yoga Journal and was very appreciative. That's some really good tea!

However, this time was different. I scanned the letter quickly and what I noticed was that the DVD was part of a series and I could pay to sign up and receive more. Then there was a mailer inserted explaining the correct way to send the DVD back if I didn't want to pay. I was tired and not happy at the thought of having to make an extra trip to the post office to return the DVD that I did not ask for.

After calming down for a few days and looking at the letter again, I see at the bottom of the letter that it says, "Because you didn't ask for this DVD, you don't have to participate or send it back and can consider it a free gift."

This letter was very poorly written and not consumer friendly at all. The DVD should have been described as a free gift from the beginning and Yoga Journal should not have asked for it to be sent back at all. The return mailer should have been described "as a courtesy" giving us the option to return it for free.

I'm not the only one who was upset by this mailing. I did a quick search and found several people who left comments on their Facebook page about the unwanted DVD.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, we have a legal right to keep all unordered merchandise as a free gift. Below is a portion of their Facts For Consumers about Unordered Merchandise.
What do you do when you receive merchandise that you didn’t order? According to the Federal Trade Commission, you don’t have to pay for it. Federal laws prohibit mailing unordered merchandise to consumers and then demanding payment.

Here are some questions and answers about dealing with unordered merchandise.

Q. Am I obligated to return or pay for merchandise I never ordered?

A. No. If you receive merchandise that you didn’t order, you have a legal right to keep it as a free gift.

Q. Must I notify the seller if I keep unordered merchandise without paying for it?

A. You have no legal obligation to notify the seller. However, it is a good idea to write a letter to the company stating that you didn’t order the item and, therefore, you have a legal right to keep it for free. This may discourage the seller from sending you bills or dunning notices, or it may help clear up an honest error. Send your letter by certified mail. Keep the return receipt and a copy of the letter for your records. You may need it later.
I would have thought that after seeing how upset some customers were by the letter, that those in charge would have changed it. Apparently they did not.

The letter needs to be corrected, because they are upsetting their subscribers. Not Cooks Source or Marie Claire upset, but still. This was very un-yoga like and did not leave me in a zen state of mind.

I've been a loyal and happy subscriber to Yoga Journal for several years. The DVD is probably very good, but the way that it was sent out was quite disappointing.

I will watch it. And I will keep it. For free.

*Updated 12/5/2013* After the new comment here today, I checked the link to the FB page where people had complained. Apparently that page with complaints was taken down, because my old link went nowhere when I just tried it, so I removed the links. Very interesting....

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Just noticed your warning about what to do when you receive unsolicited merchandise ... I worked as a researcher for a Canadian consumer TV program prior to becoming an educator and when we ran into this problem we found that yes ... one can hold on to the stuff and tell the company to come and get it if they really want it back ... one who receives does not have any obligation to return it or pay for it ... glad you put this on your site for others to see!! Buyer Beware! Be Well!! MIMI
Lisa Johnson said…
mimisms - Welcome! Thanks for the comment! That sounds like a really interesting job. Those reports really make a difference and help a lot of people. You take care too! ; )
Erika Flint said…
Thank you for this post! Was about to angrily mail mine back today - I feel exactly the same and was about to call and cancel my Yoga Journal subscription and ask for my money back. Instead I'll just keep the dvd. But I hope they don't do this again!
Lisa Johnson said…
erika - You're welcome! I'm glad the post did some good. I guess some people are buying it otherwise they would have stopped. Oh well...
Anonymous said…
You wrote this years ago and I just received this same DVD mailing today. Same wording. Same return envelope. Crazy. Still debating calling the magazine tomorrow to cancel. Did they ever contact you again with more 'offers' or send a bill? I don't want to go to the post office. Just horrible marketing to loyal readers. Thanks for this post. :)
Lisa Johnson said…
karen - I kept the DVD with no problems and still subscribe to the magazine. So far no similar offers since this one and I never received a bill. I just considered it a free gift. Glad the post helped! : )
Anonymous said…
Thank you so much for writing this. I got mine yesterday and it really distressed me. I was so ready to write a livid email, call customer service and possibly cancel my subscription. I felt harassed.

This has given some peace to my morning.
Lisa Johnson said…
anon - Glad to help! I'm all about having peaceful mornings. : )
Anonymous said…
Same thing is March 2014 and they are still doing the same thing. The way the letter reads, if you don't contact them, the DVD's will continue to be sent to you.
Lisa Johnson said…
anon - All I can attribute the continuation of this letter to is that it must be working and people are buying. When it comes down to it, they are trying to sell a product. If they had more complaints than purchases, I suspect they would have changed the wording of the letter.

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