A Common Magazine Scam

I used to get many magazine and newspaper subscriptions, but now I get almost none because I cannot keep up with the schemes of the publishers. I admit they are smarter than I am.

Here’s how the most common one works: You get in the mail an offer of an extremely low subscription rate for a magazine you would not normally be interested in, but maybe it is on something general, like gardening, that a friend would like. It would be nice to surprise them, so you send in their name and your credit card number. The cost is less than $10 for a year, so why not? Or give it to yourself as a present.

But they say in the very small fine print that if you do not cancel during the special trial rate, the rate will revert to the normal rate and your subscription will automatically renew for another year. The normal rate could be $100 a year. But which magazine subscription will you cancel? You probably forgot by now.

So a year later, you get a charge on your credit card bill for another year’s subscription at the exorbitant rate that you may not even notice. Even if you do notice it, the name of the company may be something general like “Preferred Reader’s Club” that does not give you a clue of what the subscription is about. (Companies like this are subscription brokers; they do not actually publish anything, themselves; they only solicit the subscriptions and pass them on to the real publishers.)

The real publishers shrug their shoulders and say, You requested a subscription and you got one. It’s not our problem.

Pshaw! They know what’s going on.

Do you think this will be simple to straighten out? You will probably decide it is not worth the hassle and eat the charge every year. This is not accidental, not a simple oversight on your part. You were purposely duped, and all of the publishers do it.

I always pay for subscriptions by check a year at a time, no matter how tempting the offer, but they don’t make it easy. I can easily spend an entire morning on the phone. Often, the discounted price is right, but the subscription is not worth the trouble I know I will have. (I forgot to warn my wife of this scam.)


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
This entry was posted in Popular culture. Bookmark the permalink.

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