Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 18, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Consumers beware by LYNNE GORDON The encyclopedia trap Unscrupulous door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen know that the quickest way to a sale is through a mother's concerned heart What is more important than the education of her kids? How tempting to think you are splurging on a gift that will last years. Some salesman will even promise that the encyclopedia is almost guaranteed to help children improve their grades. One consumer told me that one aggressive salesman actually offered to spend a few evenings a week with the child helping her to study and use the encyclopedia. Top encyclopedia companies consider it unethical to suggest that children will be deprived without a specific set. They forbid their salesman to appeal to a parent's sense of responsibility for a child's education. Usually a salesman will try to get in your home by telephon- ing first and using a variety of pitches. You must have heard the one: "We are making a survey for an educational council. If you answer some questions, you'll receive a free gift." If you take the bait, you may find a salesman at your door in the next day or so. That's the first time you'll realize that the high sounding educational council is just a front for the encyclopedia company. Now you may end up with a free cookbook or reference book but you'll also spend hours getting a high pressure pitch for the encyclopedias. Then you may get the next pitch: "You can have these books at half price if you give us the names of your friends and they buy some sets." This is a good way to lose your money and your friends. Referral selling, as this is called, is illegal in many provinces. Any contract signed under these conditions is not binding. The seller can lose his licence and be fined up to if convicted. And don't fall for the vague promise that the books are half price If you had time to check, you might find the set he reduc- ed from to was only worth to begin with. No one is really safe from the slippery con man no matter what their income bracket or profession. A well known English actor, Donald Sinden, told me one story about a salesman who pestered him for weeks to just "demonstrate this marvelous set of Finally, Sinden decided to have some fun with him and allowed him to practise his pitch. He did warn the salesman that he was not at all interested In buying a set. So when the salesman persisted, he thought he must be a frustrated actor. And what an actor he was. As soon as the salesman got in- side the door, he threw books all around the room and spread them out on the floor. Then he began: "O.K. Mr. Sinden, let's just PRETEND you want the encyclopedias. If you had your choice would you pay on time or Sinden answered that he thought cash was better, it would be cheaper in the long run. Then the salesman OJked: "If you were buying, would you choose the plain bindings or the Deluxe Sinden said he would prefer the best, they would last longer. This kind of dialogue went on for about an hour. Then when the salesman felt he had Sinden in the palm of his hand, he shov- ed a pencil and a contract under his nose. "Just sign here, Mr. Sinden" Sinden refused, reminding the salesman he never wanted the set. Then a howl went up from the salesman. This once affable man became angry and abusive suggesting that Sinden had led him on, taking his valuable time. At the end, Donald Sinden showed the salesman out but that's a risky game because once the salesman gets you listen- ing then answering questions, he can get your signature before you know what has hit you. And not many people can face up to the abuse from a con man. If you do sign, you should know there is a "cooling off period in most provinces. If the contract is signed in your home for more than it can be cancelled in writing within 48 hours. Certainly there are times when an encyclopedia can be a good investment, but never buy the first set peddled. First, go to the library and check out the sets they use. Ask the librarian for advice on how to judge a set for your family. Many times a salesman will come around to a family with pre school children and sell them an encyclopedia geared to high school level. The idea, he says, is to have the children grow up with the set. Nonsense! If it is too advanced, you child will be overwhelmed. And by the time he can use it, it will probably be out of date. Make sure the encyclopedia is really current. Check out articles where knowledge is rapidly increasing and chang- ing such as politics, medicine, art, science, technology. Examine specific articles for any evidence of bias. If you have to cut cost, cut out deluxe bindings and other extras that increase the price. Before you plunk out a few hundred dollars for an en- cyclopedia, make the decision whether it is what you want, what you need, what you can afford. Copywright 1974, Toronto Sun Syndicate Camm's... your Christmas Shoe Store! For those Holiday dress-up oc- casions choose a pair of these dressy EMPRESS SLINGS In Gold and Silver combination This style also available in other colors Also other styles in silver or gold. CHARCKX By JOYCE In Black Calf, or brown Calf New dressy heel, AA and B widths in sizes 6 to 10 plus many other new Joyce styles Ladies' Low Cut Wedge SNOW BOOTS In brown or black suede with warm pile SOQ GIFT SUGGESTION Curling Shoes for Men and Ladies Wallabees by Clark's for Men and Ladies Men's Foam Tread Slippers Camm's Shoes 403 S StrMt S. t Fri. till 9 p.m. The LetMnridge Herald Lethbridge, Alberta, Wednesday, December 18, 1974 -The Herald- Family Fourth section Pages 33-40 BKMUMdWMP Harold Burden here to 'protect consumers from economic fraud9 Officer eager to meet consumers' needs By LYNNE VAN LUVEN Herald Family Editor Harold Burden wants Lethbridge area retailers to know he's here, but he prefers to pay his visits to their premises without previous appointment. Mr. Burden, the new consumer fraud protection officer for Lethbridge and area, is determined to establish a good working relationship with retailers, but also intends to obtain as accurate a picture as possible of stores' application of consumer regulations hence his unscheduled visits. "But I don't skulk he adds. "Managers know I'm there." He says he is here to "protect con- sumers from economic fraud" by enforc- ing a multitude of federal regulations, including the Canada agricultural products standards act, as well as the hazardous products, weights and measures and textiles acts, to name but a few. Appointed as department of consumer and corporate affairs representative in Lethbridge this fall, Mr. Burden's presence is evidence of attempts to de centralize some of the functions of his branch of the federal civil service. "There are spaces in the chart for the appointment of other workers says Mr. Burden of his office, which so far con- sists of heavy tomes of consumer legislation, a desk, a couple of cupboards, a few chairs and for staff himself and himself alone. "It's a problem of money and people having enough money within the depart- ment to appoint additional people to regional offices, then finding and training enough people for the additional jobs." Mr. Burden won't be getting any office staff in the new year, but he expects to have the use of an answering service by Jan. 6 so he will be able to follow up calls coming in while he is out of the office. And being a one man bureau means Harold Burden is 'out of the office' a great deal these days. What does a consumer fraud protection officer actually do? "Right now, I'm visiting retail outlets, making sure everything in the line of perishable foods is marked properly, so consumers can make a wise choice." Sounds simple enough, but it's a gargan- tuan task. The region for which Mr. Burden is responsible extends north approximately as far as Vulcan and Nan- ton, east to Medicine Hat, west to the B.C. border and south to the U.S. Canada boundary. It's obvious such terrain con- tains more than just a few retail outlets. "Our department works on the assump- tion that the companies providing the goods to the consumer will want to comply with the regulations, since it's in their best interests to do says Mr. Burden. "But of course, we can't take everything on good faith and must check retail outlets to make sure everything's as it should be. "A lot of is how he describes checking retail outlets in the immediate Lethbridge area. "Right now I'm concentrating on perishable food products improper handling, how the contents are marked. Retailers here have been pretty casual about following labelling he adds. On the whole, says Mr. Burden, most store managers are co operative. Most will remove dubious products from their shelves at his request and will make the labelling changes he requires. As a consumer fraud officer, Mr. Burden is empowered to seize products from retail outlets and send them to con- sumer corporate affairs laboratories in Ottawa and Winnipeg (the latter does a small amount of testing) for detailed testing. He may also demand that retailers amend their practices in keeping with regulations and may place embargos on large obviously hazardous products within a store, thereby forbidding sale of such items. If firms refuse to co operate something few do Mr. Burden's usual recourse is to charge them with breaking pertinent sections of consumer corporate regulations. Offending firms are usually fined; sums may range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Mr. Burden says one of the more com- mon infractions he has seen so far in- volves grading: Foods may be labelled 'No. 1' when it is actually of a lesser quality. Recently he conducted a survey to determine the fat content of hamburger HAROLD BURDEN CHECKS WEIGHT OF FROZEN VEGETABLES. sold in local groceries; results have not yet been returned. "We'll also be conducting a textiles sur- says Mr. Burden of future projects, "and we'll be doing more with hazardous products." He says that even if he receives calls about matters outside his jurisdiction, ac- tion will be taken. He will pass the com- plaint along to the consumer fraud offices in Calgary which are geared to handle a wide spectrum of problems. His depart- ment enforces .provincial consumer regulations, as well as federal. Mr. Burden began his career as a federal meat inspector, then spent three years in Edmonton working with con- sumer and corporate affairs. He admits that the average consumer might- well have difficulty sifting through all the sec- tions and sub sections of consumer legislation, but says purchasers can do a great deal to protect themselves against fraud "simply by using common sense." Initially, he views his job in the Southern Alberta region as "finding out at what level of standards retail outlets are opera ting. "Once he determines that, he will be able to organize the Lethbridge of- fice accordingly. Eager as he is to meet the needs of the consumer, Mr. Burden does draw the line somewhere: he says he is not responsible for consumer education, nor is he a spokesman for his department. Those are the functions of Gordon Cairns, public relations officer with the Calgary office of consumer and corporate affairs. 'House Without aids women in distress By RAM SUNDAR CP Correspondent MADRAS, India (CP) "I wanted to jump into the sea and kill said 29-year- old Lakshmi Devi, a widow. "When I woke up, I found myself in the House Without Fear. She is among the several thousand women whom the Abhaya Nilayam, or House Without Fear, has helped to find a new life. Today, Mrs. Devi is a stenographer in an import- export company in Madras. The House Without Fear has become a source of hope to wives persecuted by their hus- bands, daughters unable to get along with their families and generally to women who find themselves misfits in a male- dominated society. "Our doors are open to all women in said Dr. V. S. Rishi, secretary of the women's home. "We are hard- pressed for funds but no one is turned away." A woman is initially ad- mitted into the house only for three months. If she is not willing to go back to her hus- band or parents, efforts are made to make her a useful citizen. For instance, Mrs. Devi, who was found unconscious on the Madras beach, did not want to return to her husband's relatives, whom she described as cruel. She was taught shorthand and typing. Rishi and his band of social workers have helped to rehabilitate hundreds of prostitutes. The Tamil Nadu state government's Vigilance Home for Women co-operates with the House Without Fear PREPARE FOR XMAS WASHINGTON (AP) President and Mrs. Ford are preparing for Christmas. They plan to send greeting cards and to hold a series of parties including a ball for members of Congress. in this special area. "The best tonic for an un- happy woman is says Rishi. Thanks to his in- stitution, many women who thought their future was bleak have found husbands. The institution has acquired such a good reputation all over Asia that many eligible bachelors seek its aid in finding wives. "Whatever their past ex- perience, our inmates make excellent says an official at the House Without Fear. "The vast ma- jority of marriages we have helped to bring about are hap- py." don't die, they just rest in pet cemetery' OTTAWA (CP) Old pets don't die, they just a nearby pet cemetery. At least, that's where they will reside in the Ottawa area if Michael Sammon's plan for an animal burial ground is successful. Mr. Sammon, a 32-year-old pet-shop employee, has begun preparation of a pet cemetery in nearby Greely, where he hopes to handle 250 to 300 burials a year. He got the idea from an army buddy who has embarked on a similar enterprise in California. But Mr. Sammon said his rates will be on a more modest for a cat and for a large dog. The California operation charges up to for its services. While he hasn't received any customers yet, Mr. Sammon has few doubts about the viability of his business. "I wouldn't have gone into it, if people were not expected to pay steep rates to have their pets he said. Many people are upset when they learn that most dead pets are now buried in a common grave at the city dump or mass- cremated by the Humane Society, he explained. The service offered by his new undertaking will be a com- plete one. The departed animals will be wrapped in plastic, to comply with health regulations, and placed on a silk bed inside a varnished plywood coffin. But, the service doesn't stop there. The funeral director is prepared to read a passage from the Bible with reference to animals if the "family" so wishes. On the other hand, should the family be particularly patriotic Mr. Sammon will supply flags from a variety of nations in a size suitable for coffin-draping. He said customers will learn of his service from an animal hospital or pet shop and call him when the need arises. Should the death occur during the winter months, Mr. Sammon will pick up the body and store it in one of two freezers he has recently acquired, delaying the burial until requested by the family. Pets will be buried three feet in the ground and placed in plots 12 to 18 inches apart. This distance should prevent people "from stepping on Fifi's grave while visiting Rover." Publicity at the cemetery is kept at a minimum. One small hand-lettered sign marks the spot and informs the curious. It reads simply, "Pet Cemetery Gardens." The most wanted gift... FURS from Canadian Furriers Glamour in the daytime Glamour in the nightime! Canadian Furriers has just the fur you have always longed for. Our magnificent selection includes Mink, Mink Paws, Muskrat, Persian Lamb, Fox, Racoon, Oppossum and so many, many more. PrlMdfrom A bMUtif ul Mtoction of Fur Hats In Mmktails. Mink, Fox, Muskrat and Raccoon. Priced from Shop Thursday and Friday 'emember: If It s Great Fashion, till 9 p.m. It's At 11 CANADIAN FURRIERS 4TH AVE. S.