Minnesota Attorney General's Office
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
M - F 8 am - 5 pm
Magazine Subscription Solicitation
People should be on guard against deceptive magazine subscription solicitations using false representations and phony claims. Some people have been duped into paying hundreds of dollars for magazines that they did not want, or “renewing” subscriptions that they had already paid for months in advance. People should be wary of magazine sales companies that use high-pressure telemarketers or door-to-door solicitors, phony invoices or renewal notices, or deceptive “early renewal” tactics. Be mindful of the following magazine solicitation techniques:
Telemarketing. Be wary of buying magazines from an unknown caller. Some companies that sell magazines may call you out of the blue. They may lead you to believe they are affiliated with your current magazine company to get you to provide payment information to renew or “verify” your subscription, or they may reveal only part of the payment terms to make their offer sound enticing. Some magazine telemarketers may lead with a weekly price of only a few dollars, but later reveal that they bill you each month and that all the payments are due early in the subscription period. To make the offer sound better, some companies offer a shopping spree or gift card that turns out not to be worth much. The end result: you may end up paying hundreds of dollars for magazines that you do not want.
Worse yet, some magazine companies then give your credit card information to other companies, which may lead to unauthorized charges that can only be stopped by cancelling your credit card or closing your bank account. The company may then forward your account to a third-party debt collector that may hound you for payment of the supposed “bill.” Consider this advice:
• Don’t believe the hype. Some magazine telemarketers will say anything in order to get you to buy a subscription, including misrepresenting
the cost or your ability to cancel or making bogus claims about the value of offers that come along with the purchase.
• Ask to read the fine print. Ask the company to mail its offer to you, rather than agreeing to purchase or “renew” over the telephone, so that you can review the fine print of the pricing and the terms of the subscription.
• Be extremely cautious about giving your credit card or banking information out to telemarketers, as such disclosures can lead to identity theft or unauthorized withdrawals from your accounts.
Door-to-Door Sales. Door-to-door magazine solicitations are often conducted in the warmer months by young people who claim to be high school or college students. They may claim to be raising money for a trip abroad, baseball team or some other school activity. Solicitations may promise that some portion of the sales will be donated to a charity, such as a children’s hospital, or to troops overseas. Solicitors generally are eager to close the sale on the spot and ask for immediate payment by cash or check. Consider this advice:
• The details matter. Fast-talking and aggressive solicitors may use high-pressure tactics, deceptive price representations, and gimmicky free offers to gloss over the true price of a subscription. Read the fine print before you purchase anything.
• Don’t be rushed. If you are interested in supporting a given school activity or charitable effort, take your time to research the matter. Any legitimate entity that wants your support will not force an immediate decision at your doorway.
• Don’t let strangers into your home. In some cases, door-to-door solicitors refuse to leave people’s homes until they sign a purchase agreement or give out their credit card information. The best defense: don’t let them in to begin with.
Phony Invoices or Renewal Notices. Some magazine sales companies may send a mailing that appears to be an invoice or bill for a magazine. Some may even make it appear as though your account has been sent to collections. Their hope is that some people will assume the notice is from the publisher and send in payment believing they are buying or renewing their magazine. You may find yourself paying much higher prices than those charged by the magazine publisher for magazines you already receive or do not want. Consider:
• If you subscribe to the magazine, check with the publisher as to the best price.
• Review the notice carefully to determine if it is from the publisher. These types of notices will often have the name of the unknown company in small print.
• If you did not order the magazine and don’t want it, you are under no obligation to pay and are free to simply throw the document away.
Early Renewal Notices. Some magazine publishers send renewal notices in cases where a customer has already paid up months or a year in advance. The “renewal” notice may imply that the subscription is running out. For consumers that accept, the publisher gets the use of their money for months or years without interest. Consider:
• Keep a list on a note card or your computer of all your magazine subscriptions and when they run out. Before you renew, check the list.
• If you receive a renewal notice, check your receipts or with the publisher to find out when your current subscription runs out.
If you have been subject to a magazine scam, you may contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office or the following organizations by phone, mail, or electronically as follows:
Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
TTY: (651) 297-7206
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
Toll free: 1-877-382-4357
Better Business Bureau
220 South River Ridge Circle
Burnsville, MN 55337