No Thanks, Magazine Subscription Service Company!

Around two years ago, I wrote about how we were able to keep our frequent file miles from Delta alive by putting activity on the account via a magazine subscription.  At the time, if you went so long without some sort of addition or subtraction of miles, they simply wiped you out of their system (they’ve since updated the policy and miles no longer expire).

At the time I wrote about how I redeemed some of the miles for a one year subscription, and also wrote about how awesome it was that I was able to add a second year for the price of two dollars.


Look like I spoke too soon.

Because, as it turns out, that two dollar agreement also must have specified that you would auto renew the subscription at the end of the term.

I found that out when I logged into our bank account and found a $49 charge, that I quickly tracked back to my Entertainment Weekly subscription.  Logging on to the website informed me that the subscription was being managed by a third party vendor (can’t recall the name) and gave me a 1-800 number to dial in reference.

And dial I did!

After verifying my information, I politely told the rep that I had a charge on my bill for a renewal that I did not authorize and wished to have cancelled with a full refund.

He looked it up and verified that, sure enough, they’d taken the funds, but he wanted to make a deal.

First he offered to give me the renewal at a rate of $20 per year, and would refund the $29 back to my card.

For some reason, this actually annoyed me more than enticed me, because it basically told me that they were overcharging and they knew it with the original rate.  So I said, no thanks.

And repeated my request.  I was still polite but I realized I’d have to be a bit more firm.

He still had to take one more shot.

He basically tried to tell me (without asking) that, because I’ve been such a great customer, he was going to give me a six week ‘free subscription’ and that I could call back to cancel any time during the six week period.

In other words, the same thing.  Counting once again on people forgetting to call back or whatever.  And, the way he did it, he basically tried to tell me that’s what they were doing and was ready to end the call.

I didn’t even bother to sarcastically ask whether the renewal would be at the rip-off price of $49 or the miraculously discounted rate of $20.  I told him in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t interested and that I wanted to continue with the cancellation and full refund.

Defeated, he put me on hold for a couple of minutes, and came back to tell me that it had been processed.

So, let’s see their strategy:

  • Put something in place that nobody is going to remember two years later.   Hope that people don’t even bother noticing or doing anything about the $49 charge.
  • For the people that do call in, try to keep them around with a 60% discount.  I’m guessing that a good percentage of people do this.
  • Try once again to get people to forget themselves with the dangling carrot of ‘six free’ issues.

I wonder how many people they sink their teeth into by getting people to stick during one of these ‘steps’.

They didn’t get this one.

Two days later, the credit showed up.

18 thoughts on “No Thanks, Magazine Subscription Service Company!”

  1. That’s the worst! Salesman can be exhausting. I had a similar situation when they were trying to sell me my car warranty – they wanted to charge me $3,000, then when I refused they told me they would knock it down to $2,400, etc. I was at work, too, which I told them, so I couldn’t talk for very long and he chose to give me a long lecture of why I should always buy warranty.

    I forgot to cancel a gym membership after the trial period and they wouldn’t let me cancel. Automatic renewal is the worst!

  2. I absolutely loathe auto-renewal contracts. I have lost too much money from being dumb and not paying attention to these things. Drives me crazy! I think they should be outlawed!

  3. Good for you that you were persistent in getting your money back. Those automatic renewals can creep into “deals” such as this, and can be annoying to deal with when trying to cancel or avoid. I generally don’t go for such deals at all, though I went against my standard practice and actually did sign up for one not long ago. Hopefully this doesn’t come back to bite me, we’ll see!

    • Definitely a case of where I should have read the fine print. Looking back, I guess I should have found it as somewhat odd that there were not renewal offers earlier, as they usually start a few months in advance of your end date.

  4. Sadly when I was in college i worked for one of those company’s that did this. They would have you sign up for what would appear to be a great deal with the catch that most people miss of auto renew for a much higher price. The thing is that the subscriptions are just icing on the cake as the make most of the money from ads and could really afford to give the magazine away for next to nothing. And those rep act like they are hard of hearing when you say cancel and full refund. No I dont want a deal.

    • Insider secrets! Lol! I don’t blame the individual rep, they’re just doing a job. It’s the whole concept that’s fishy and that’s put in place by someone much higher up than who I talked to on the phone.

  5. This kind of stuff drives me nuts! I have had two instances in the last year of this type of business practice — once with a cell phone company and once with a pop up ad from a website. And…I had to jump through hoops to cancel the darn stuff.

    • Ugh the popup from the website sounds much more problematic than anything else. Once something like that gets their hooks into you…

    • They’re counting on people not noticing or being too lazy to do anything about it. Definitely won’t make a most trustworthy company list, but I guess that’s not their objective.

  6. “FREE 10 Day Trial”
    “Try It At No Cost For 30 Days”
    “You Pay NOTHING For The First Two Weeks!”
    “30 Days Same As Cash”
    “Zero Interest As Long As You Pay It Off In 36 Months!”

    All of those are the same technique…repackaged for different products/services. The only way I’ll “try” something is if I don’t have to provide them with payment info up front.

    I mean, if your product/service is that great…then you shouldn’t have to worry about a low conversion rate from a free trial, right?

    • Well I did pay them the extra couple bucks for the second year of the subscription but I didn’t know they were going to auto-renew. And, yeah, once they did that, there was no free trial long enough that was going to keep me interested!

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