"Singer* School Sewing Machine Sale"

WARNING: This is a scam.

This full page ad usually appears in a local newspaper or advertising supplement:

"Legal Notice Our Singer* Education Department is liquidating unsold school sewing machines at the lowest price possible to the public. Singer School sewing machines have the professional serging stitch built into the machine without the use of acessories. These machines are brand new in factory sealed cartons. .... Your price with this ad: $198.00 (Without this ad: $419.00) Other School machines available at similar savings!"

*Note* they may or may not be using the Singer name, in many areas they do, but I've seen reports that the names Janome and Tailor are being used as well. I've also had spam (unsolicited advertising) sent to me by people trying to sell the Necchi brand over the internet using this tactic.

Your first clue that this is a rip-off should be that they'll list a location like a fabric store, craft mall, or hotel room instead of a legitimate storefront of their own. They'll list only one or two dates when you can receive this "special offer", and then they blow town. If you look carefully at the ad, you may find the real name of the marketing company listed in tiny print in the bottom corner. Note that they don't list a phone number, and may actually say "No phone calls please." That's because there is nobody to take the call and answer your questions.

The advertisment may tell you that these are "school" machines which went unsold recently because they made too many of them. This is bullshit! These are cheap, low-end machines which they sell to unsuspecting consumers. Schools have enough problems paying teachers, they don't have extra budget money for ordering new sewing machines for the home ec classes.

Clue Number Two: Note the line "Other machines available at similar savings!" This is your cue to expect a "bait and switch" sales approach. They'll have the $198 machine there, but they also have higher priced models. They do the demo on the fancier machines and will try to sell you on it. The more expensive models will have the features mentioned in the ad above.

If nothing else starts ringing bells in your head, the speed and patter of the demonstrations should remind you of the movie Used Cars. You will not be allowed to test the machines yourself. The salesperson will do all the demos at lightning speed and make it look so easy for you. If you should decide to purchase the $198 machine, you may be told they "sold out" earlier in the day. These people use the Singer reputation to sell some of the lowest quality machines available.

This is a rip-off! If you need a sewing machine, run, don't walk, to the nearest reputable dealer in your area. Buy a machine from somebody who runs an honest business and who will be there when you have questions or problems. Negotiate a price you can pay for the machine you want. You'll find that most brand name manufacturers have machines with features similar to the ones in this ad, at similar prices --but they aren't selling them out of a hotel room! You may even be able to get a better quality machine that was traded in for a higher-priced model. (As of spring 2001 you can buy a new sewing machine from Sears, for example, for as little as $119.)

Note: I get a lot of mail about this topic. Some of you are wondering about the machines that these people sell. They are not $500 machines being sold at discount prices. They are $198 machines being sold for $198. You can get them in any reputable sewing machine shop.

Are they really Singer brand machines? Yes, they appear to be. Sometimes they are discontinued models, sometimes you can find the same thing in a real honest Singer Store. But Singer isn't the machine your grandmother sewed on. Quality in the brand has gone down considerably since about 1980, and their low-end models, like many other brands, run like junk.

I don't want folks to think these people are going to take your money and not give you a product, although I've had many reports that this happens. I just want you to be aware that this is a bad way to do business. They are counting on you to be uninformed, desperate, and on such a low budget you will take their ad at face value instead of looking around in your community for a better machine. Additionally, many of these travelling dealers do not have permission from the manufacturer to sell in the areas they advertise and as a result their fly-by-night tactics hurt the licensed dealers who are trying to stay in business near you.

Before you buy, ask yourself if you would purchase a TV set, stereo, computer or other home appliances in this manner.

And if you've already bought one and are trying to get your money back, take a look at this link which explains how to cancel a sale.

If you've had an experience, good or bad, with these vendors and want to share it, please write. Here are a few letters I have received:(most recent letters are at the top of the list). I do not publish anonymous letters.
Letter Fifteen
Letter Thirteen Letter Forteen
Letter Eleven Letter Twelve
Letter Nine Letter Ten
Letter Seven Letter Eight
Letter Five Letter Six
Letter Three Letter Four
Letter One Letter Two

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Last modified on 02/04/03


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