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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.