I received information in the mail from a man in Houston, Texas. The sender is unknown to me, but the brochure reads like a pyramid scheme to me. Have you ever heard of it? - A.H., Salt Lake City.

We're not familiar with this particular scheme, but like you we think it reads like a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes, by the way, are illegal.The program promises you'll make $50,000 in less than 90 days. All you have to do in this "multilevel mail order marketing business" is order four business and financial reports by sending $5 cash for each report along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. You must not alter the names or sequence of the reports other than per the instructions.

The instructions: Replace the name on report one with your own name and address. Move the name that was on report one to report two. Move the name that was on report two to report three. Move the name that was on report three to report four. Drop the name on report four from the list.

Make photo copies of the brochure and send them to everyone whose name and address you can get your hands on. You may even want to purchase a mailing list for $45 for 2,000 names.

People will start sending you $5 for a copy of report one. Weeks later people will start sending you $5 for a copy of report two, etc. Once you have received 100 or more orders for report two, you are going to make at least $55,000, assuming that 95 out of every 100 people you send the program to put it in the garbage.

That, at least, is the theory.

Reality is a little different. Pyramid schemes are illegal in Utah. Their emphasis is on recruiting people and getting them to pay money in order to join the program. Usually pyramid schemes don't have a legitimate product to sell.

How much money you stand to receive from such a scheme depends solely on how many people are suckered into the deal. If it looks like a pyramid scheme, talks like a pyramid scheme and walks like a pyramid scheme, you better believe it's a pyramid scheme.

Peony problem

Last August I sent an order to Jackson & Perkins in Medford, Ore., for some peonies and a peony tree. I sent a check for $43.15 to pay for them. The company did not acknowledge my order as it has previously done. Approximately five weeks later the company sent me the same advertisement and order form. I returned the order form but explained to the company that if it had received my first order it should disregard the second.

The company didn't acknowledge that order.

I sent the company a letter. It didn't acknowledge my letter, either. I have written it twice since then. It finally sent me a courtesy reply in which it said it could not make the cancellation I requested. It said when the returned shipment reached it it would make the proper adjustment.

I am retired and on a fixed income. I don't feel I can contribute this money to Jackson & Perkins. I hope you can help. - R.C., Sandy.

The company apologizes for the error and has sent you a check for $43.15.