Opt-out required "offers"

I recently received a letter, text of which is reproduced below. While the intent seems good, the process strikes me as a bit dodgy. What are the legalities of anyone saying they’ll send me something, for which they expect payment, unless I tell them not to send it?

The text of the letter reads:
For over 32 years Bowelscan has been saving lives by distributing bowel screening kits through pharmacies into the community. Regular screening for bowel cancer using a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is recommended every 1-2 years. As many Rotary clubs ran their final pharmacy Bowelscan awareness program in May 2017, the Bowelscan test may no longer be available from most pharmacies in NSW, QLD, SA and WA.
The ColoVantage Screening Service is pleased to announce that it will continue to provide the Bowelscan Renewal Program which offers you a DIRECT mailing service delivery right to your door, making bowel screening even easier.
The ColoVantage Screening Service has been providing the testing and support services for the Bowelscan during the last three years. Our records indicate that you have previously participated and completed a test.
The Bowelscan test is a simple and convenient way to check for hidden blood in the stool. This includes the kit and postage to you, provision of the pathology service, a result notification to you and your nominated doctor. The price of a Bowelscan Renewal Kit is $21.50*.
If you would like to receive a Bowelscan Renewal Kit, no response is required and we will post a test kit to you between April to June 2018. Please let us know if you do not wish to receive a kit in the post. If you wish to prepay, please see the slip below. If you have any questions, contact us by:
• Phone on 1800 55 65 75 or
• Email renew@clinicalgenomics.com or
• Fax 02 9889 5211.

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Hi David,

although they have given you a heads-up by mail, if they send a kit to you, it would be unsolicited goods - you didn’t ask for it to be sent. Read on at the link below.

https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/consumer-rights-and-advice/your-rights/articles/unsolicited-supplies

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It reminds me of the ‘charity’ Christmas cards which were sent to us each year with the ‘offer’ to purchase them. We cottoned on and in the second year sent a couple we received back to sender (without opening them and luckily the return address was on the envelope).

A few years the same card pack would arrive and we would do the same thing…return to sender…until they stopped placing the sender’s address on the envelope. We would open them up and ignore the fact we had received them. After a few more years these stopped.

I think it is a height of rudeness to send an unsolicited item to someone expecting them to pay. If I had used their services or business/donated to them in the past, this is a sure fire way for me to never use their services/business again.

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It appears to be an attempt by ColoVantage Screening Service to get more business from people after possibly waning interest/participation??.

The BowelCare project was started by Rotary Club of East Gosford Inc and now encompasses Rotary Districts 9710 and part of 9675 as well, in 2018 it will run from 1st April 2018 to 31st May 2018 and kits will cost $15. This price covers pathology testing and notification of results to both the participant and their nominated Doctor , an obvious difference to the $21.50 in the letter .

CancerCare Australia came out of the same beginnings, which was called Bowelscan, and became a standalone charity that “covers 110 Rotary clubs and over 700 participating pharmacies across Greater Metropolitan Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, South East New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory”. It has (copied from it’s website) “expanded its focus to now support cancer related programs such as the Shirley Shuttle, Cancer Council Bus, Cancer Council Home Care and sponsors the Carols by Candlelight Mt Penang utilising the profits from the sale of the BowelCare kits.”

The Australian Govt through the Medicare system provides a completely free Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test service once a person reaches 50 years of age. This test is expanding from every 5 years to the recommended every 2 years until you are over 74 and the 2 yearly test is going to be completely phased in by 2020. The company that provides the pathology services has changed from Specialist Diagnostic Services (operating as Dorevitch Pathology) to Sonic Healthcare Limited (Sonic), but the register of results is held in the Govt database.

To read more about the free Govt service the link is to the home page:

http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/bowel-campaign-home

I understand using a paid for service if you are under 50 as the free Govt one is only for those 50 and over, but also take into account that FOBT kit results are only about 30% correct/accurate and the real recommended rate is once per year for testing. Reasons for incorrect results can be anal bleeding (from a number of causes not related to cancer eg hemorrhoids) which will result in false positives. Not all cancers bleed until too late or at all, some may not bleed during your test period and these are false negatives. Doctors can also give you a referral to a pathology service to have this test done, it may be free or it may cost depending on a number of factors.

The best test is a colonoscopy and you can get a referral from your doctor to be tested, however this test may require payment by whomever performs the procedure.

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This looks like it has taken up a previous Rotary sponsored program that wound up at pharmacies, but that remains a ‘program’ on the rotary web site.

I hope nobody would confuse it it with the National Bowel Cancer program that @grahroll posted.

@ScottOKeefe’s advice is correct. If you did not order it you have no responsibility for it. FWIW the government program advises to throw the kit away if you are not going to use it, but they also ask you to send them an opt-out form for record/research purposes.

While the ColoVantage program might be pushing the boundaries, as you indicated it is probably well meaning and has tried to emulate the government program in good faith, sending the solicitation to previous ‘Rotary program’ customers.

My response would be sending them a ‘no thank you’ along with the concerns you noted. On the flip side, some adults would be reticent to sign up but would also participate if the kit just arrived so how it is being done could get a better research/clinical outcome through higher participation; or maybe not?

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BOWELSCAN SCAM
I have had a letter from a company called ColoVantage saying as Rotary no long run their Bowelscan awareness program the Bowelscan test may no longer be available in WA.
They say “If you would like to receive a Bowelscan Renewal Kit, no response is required and we will post a test kit to you.” This will cost me $21.50. I have to notify THEM if I DON’T want the kit. There is a form to return (no envelope) the wording next to the no box says “I do not wish to receive a Bowelscan Screening Kit this year”. This implies that they may send them in future years.
I believe this is very SHONKY marketing, making me notify them if I DON’T want the kit. Is it legal I wonder.
I now, like many others I would imagine, get kits from the ‘National Bowel Cancer Screening Program’, and have in fact just sent off samples.

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Thanks for your post @clubman. Personally, I really question why organisations would use this Shonky practice - thanks for letting us know. You’ll notice I’ve move your post to our existing thread, and if you’d like some advice we have a link posted again on your rights and unsolicited sales tactics like this one.

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Join the National Bowel Cancer Screening program.
It is free and they do follow ups every two years.
I just did mine again this February, and the results showed I need to my GP

This is highly recommended for everyone, especially when you are over 50.

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Just to clarify: the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is only open to those aged 50 and over.

http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/bowel-screening-1

If you are not eligible to be invited through the program you can speak with your doctor or pharmacist about how to obtain a screening kit.

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These letters suggest the recipient has used their service or the Rotary kit in the past. I’ve heard claims that some letters were sent to people who didn’t use either. As a journalist I’m seeking any examples of that happening… if you could respond on this forum
Tim Palmer

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Can anyone help out Tim with a recent example?

@CHOICE-Member

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Two phone calls last week, number not available. Advised they were an international company authorised to monitor phone problems. Claimed my IPN number had been compromised in several countries, it was urgent that I press a number he would give me as my computer security was breached (or words to tht effect). I hung up.

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I’ve used the genuine Bowelscan kit (purchased at a pharmacy) for a few years but never had one of these offers. As I recall, mine cost $15, not $21.50. Personally, I’d treat the offer as a scam and chuck the kit in the bin. I never opt out, it just encourages some people. For emails, I’ve set up filters that mark selected messages as read, junk and delete them automatically.

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I doubt i can help you but i have had calls on my mobile more than my landline and they call several times leaving the number i tried calling it and i got no reply.how they get my mobile number is beyond me. So many scams around all the time maybe another consumer here can give advice.

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As Mr Z was too old for the Govt Bowel Screen scheme, and had never had one, I purchased one (Rotary sponsored I think) at our local pharmacy in 2014. It costs $16.50 (not claimable on Medicare). This was processed through ColoVantage, previously known as the InSure Screening Test.

The Govt scheme was enlarged to include his age group and we used that free service. A full screening kit arrived in the mail. Then we got a letter from ColoVantage telling us our regular test was due - I contacted them and told them we did not want it. That’s the last I heard from them.

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I used the service as I like to get a scan done every year and the Rotary service was no longer available at my pharmacy. It is quite legitimate and they sent back my test results.

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We still have Rotary Bowelscan kits in Maryborough, Victoria and the cost $30, which is cheap in reality, for what it can determine. I realise of course that this doesn’t help anyone in WA. I don’t think that cost of the kit is the issue here, but rather the trustworthiness of the supplier and associated testing laboratory.
I would return the kit to the sender if you have received it. Especially if they have a copy of your credit card details. ColoVantage is the name of the testing kit from a Google search, & the Australian agents are Clinical Genomics in 2 Eden Park Drive, North Ryde NSW 2113 phone 02 9887 5300. This company does not list their ABN as they are required to do, & I am always wary of companies, like this.
My advice to you would be to visit your local GP, & ask them what Faecal Occult Blood Test, or FOBT kit, they would recommend. You can also search Google for suppliers of FOBT kits.
Hope this helps.

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I’m over 60 and every two years the Victorian Govt sends me this kit, for free.

An odd birthday present though. “Happy birthday, and put this …”

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They don’t have your number, they just randomly computer dial and see if anyone answers.
The numbers that show up on your phone as being where the call is from aren’t usually real numbers either, as most, if not all, of these calls are from overseas… Don’t answer unknown numbers, and if you accidentally answer to a scammer just hang up on them. You owe them nothing.

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I my opinion unsolicited emails, mail, phone calls or texts are an invasion of my privacy. I would give them a quick reply demanding to know where they got my name and details from as you intend to inform the Department of Fair Trading, the Department of Consumer Affairs and Choice about this breach of privacy. If you received a phone call then I ask for the callers name and the contact number as you wish to notify the Department of Fair Trading and the Department of Consumer Affairs about this breach. Generally the caller hangs up at this point. I also never give my name or any personal details.

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