August 25, 2010

Sneaky Subscriptions

Quick, check your magazine labels. Or better yet, if you have elderly family members, check their magazine subscription labels.

Even though we canceled my Dad’s subscriptions when he passed away five years ago , my Mom recently told me that US News and World Report is still sending their magazine to my Dad. The first thing I did was check the mailing label. My mind spiraled in shock when I read the expiration: “FEB40.”


My Dad was an extremely smart man, but as he got older, his health declined, and he would get confused. Telemarketers assured him they were saving him money with each renewal. They just never bothered to tell him when his subscriptions expired.

Of course, I made an immediate call to US News & World Report. The customer service representative apologized and offered to stop delivery, which I accepted. Then, she proceeded to give me phone numbers for three different telemarketing companies.

Three!

Each company sold him several renewals. Thirty plus years of renewals!

So, I called the next company, locating five different renewals. BUT this company was only a data processing center, and NOT the agency that sold the renewals. That representative gave me three more phone numbers to call.

Are you counting? Now I had six numbers to call!

After an hour of calls to nine different companies, I managed to cancel six years of the subscription. And those six years were through the same company. Another company never answered the phone. It just rang and rang. Not a good sign.

The last company I called shed some light on how a subscription might be renewed for over thirty years—an unconscionable act in my book. A few years ago, US News & World Report switched from a weekly to a monthly publication, changing a one year subscription of fifty-two issues to over four years worth of magazines. I did the math. A six year subscription became a twenty-six year subscription with that one decision.

The question is whether the six years that I managed to cancel today was six years of a weekly or monthly? I’m guessing that I’ll never know.

So, go check your labels. Let me know if you find any surprises.

5 comments:

Terri said...

Very interesting!! I have magazines that come to my house that I never paid for....

Valerie said...

Call Clark Howard, the money-saving guru. I'll bet he'd put this situation on his TV show--and maybe give you a hint on how to get out of the mess. Good luck!

Susan M. Boyer said...

What a mess! I'm amazed you got to talk to people that fast. Usually, with that type of situation--one involving straightening out a billing issue with third parties likely in another country--I end up talking to computers for hours before I get a person on the line. Sheesh!

Barbara V. Evers said...

Valerie, I'll keep him in mind. I was going to share this with Dave Ramsey--another financial guru.
Susan, I was surprised too. I only had to leave a message with one of these companies -- the one that explained it to me when they called back.
Terri, watch out for renewal notices. That's another ploy.

Carole St-Laurent said...

What a scam!