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September 5, 2016

“This is Not a Bill”

Filed under: Business,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:03 am

Most people have no idea when their newspaper or magazine subscription is set to run out. So when you get a bill in the mail like this, it must be time to renew, right?

People around the country have been receiving bills like this:

Invoice frontClick to enlarge

Not so fast. The back of the invoice says the following.

*MOUSE PRINT:

“This is a magazine subscription offer, not a bill or invoice. You are under no obligation to either buy a magazine or renew at this time.”

And despite the appearance of this “bill,” the front bottom left hand corner says in small letters “RENEWAL OFFER – NOT A BILL.”

If it looks like a duck, it’s a duck, no matter what the fine print says. That’s the opinion of the Federal Trade Commission which recently filed a lawsuit against a web of companies for sending out these notices to subscribers of newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Seattle Times, The Denver Post, and over 350 others.

The notices claim that that the price is one of the lowest available rates and is authorized by the publisher. In fact, the FTC alleges the defendants do not have the publishers’ authorization and they charge up to 40 percent more than the newspapers typically charge. Purchasers often overpaid, got the wrong publication, and had difficulty getting refunds.

We say: go get’m!

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5 Comments

  1. I am always curious about people who pay bills that arrive in their mailbox if they don’t have any obligation to pay them.

    When I receive a bill in the mailbox or email inbox I always think about whether or not I should be paying it, and not about HOW I should pay it.

    My credit card keeps sending me balance transfer requests even though I haven’t used them in 8 years. People will never stop trying to get easy money from folks.

    Comment by Wayne R — September 5, 2016 @ 8:31 am
  2. This scam has been going on for well over two decades, but a telephone version of it seems to be gaining in frequency lately. Like the mail solicitation, the phone scammer purports to be “from your magazine company” or “an agency authorized by your magazines”.

    The call usually starts by the scammer solicitously asking whether you are enjoying your subscriptions or having any delivery problems Then comes the pitch for renewal or an offer for new subscriptions to other magazines because of “your good customer loyalty.” These subscriptions are generally at inflated prices, often disguised by “bundling” or quoting a per issue or per month price.

    While you may or may not actually get the magazines you renew/order, you will pay more than you need to and expose your credit card number to a potential thief. Don’t do it.

    Either renew through your magazine or look for possible savings on sites like MagazinePriceSearch.com which will refer you to honest subscription agencies, often offering a discount.

    Comment by Jon — September 5, 2016 @ 10:06 am
  3. Magazine scams are nothing but growing.

    Comment by richard — September 5, 2016 @ 3:26 pm
  4. Maybe it just me but I think the most alarming issue here is that someone has $599.95 to spend on a NEWSPAPER!

    Comment by Todd — September 5, 2016 @ 10:07 pm
  5. Even Costco is guilty of this. I got a renewal notice from them but it conveniently didn’t tell me when my membership was going to expire. Thinking it was imminent, when shopping there I went to the service desk to renew (this was in early July). I was told that it didn’t expire until the end of October!

    Comment by Ronnie — September 10, 2016 @ 10:58 pm

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