14 December 2017
Westerfield AG and MMBG AG (Media Marketing Business Group) have been telemarketing socks, razor blades and vitamin supplements, among other products, to consumers in Finland. According to consumer reports, Westerfield and MMBG have marketed to consumers a free product package, but, to the consumer’s surprise, the order has changed to a follow-on order subject to a charge. The companies have also sent to consumers products subject to a charge, even if the consumer has not accepted the alleged order. Because the customer service has been inoperational, the consumers have not been able to cancel their orders, even though they have had a legal and contractual right to do so. The collection agency Alektum Oy is now collecting Westerfield and MMBG’s receivables in its own name. Consumers who have received an unjustified request for payment should object to the request in writing.
Since 2012, consumer authorities have received more than 4,000 reports concerning the misleading marketing and insufficient customer service of Westerfield and MMBG. Earlier, similar receivables of Westerfield and MMBG were collected by the collection agency Gothia Oy. Since also back then the receivables were the subject of an exceptional degree of confusion, the Consumer Ombudsman successfully represented consumers in a number of cases in 2015. The District Court rejected several Gothia Oy’s claim, and Gothia itself cancelled a number of claims.
Alektum Oy is now also collecting Westerfield and MMBG’s receivables by legal means. Since the receivables are still the subject of an exceptional degree of confusion, the Consumer Ombudsman is currently representing consumers in a number of cases. After contesting, several claims have either been cancelled or rejected.
Instructions for consumers
If you receive a request for payment from Alektum based on an order for Westerfield and MMBG AG´s products, and you deem the request to be unreasonable, take the following steps:
1. Object to the request and present grounds for so doing. For example: “I object to your request. I have not placed the order pursuant to your request.” or “I object to your request. I have not been able to exercise my contractual right to cancel my order because of the inoperability of the seller’s customer service. Therefore, you are not entitled to invoke the agreement.” Send your response to Alektum.
2. If the company still continues to request the payment of the debt in spite of your objection, require Alektum to provide you with the recording of the telephone call confirming the order. Require that Alektum suspend any collection measures until you have received the recording.
3. If Alektum does not deliver the recording, or if the recording does not confirm that an order was placed and the collection measures continue, contact the Consumer Advisory Service. Turn to the Consumer Advisory Service also in case Alektum threatens you with legal measures or you receive a summons from a district court. Request that the district court extend the response time until the situation has been clarified.
4. Document every contact you make with the creditor and any contacts the creditor makes with you. Retain every e-mail, and write down the dates, parties involved and the subject of every telephone call. Record you telephone calls, if possible.