Friday, June 18, 2010

What a Scam!!

Better Homes and Gardens has been one of my favorite magazines for a long, long time. I usually have a subscription, but over the years I have let it lapse from time to time until a really good promotion to pops up.  That's where I am right now.  As with any magazine, it used to be that you would get several mailings warning you that it was time to renew, and then maybe a couple begging you to "come back" (usually with an even better price than they offered in the first place).

This time, however, I see that they have really gone hard-core and resorted to questionable practices.  This is what I've been getting in the mail lately:


PAST DUE:  Payable upon receipt.

The note is labeled as a bill and instructs me to "pay this amount".


It also contains this admonition:


The only problem is I did not renew my subscription (and of course they have not mailed any magazines since my sub expired)!  They, however, have "been very patient" and "expect" me to "resolve this....honorably" and "pay my debt". 

Last time I checked, you could not bill someone for something they had not ordered.  So, my question is, who is behaving dishonorably here?  Not I, methinks.  Seriously, this sounds like the kind of scam that makes it on to primetime news shows because it fooled a bunch of gullible people.  Okay, well, usually that kind of thing would have involved thousands of dollars, but I think the principle is the same.  It just seems kind of shady, and it's put a bad taste in my mouth.

I did find this in small print on the website: Continuous Service Guarantee: Your subscription will continue unless you ask us to stop. Each year you'll receive a reminder notice followed by an invoice for the low renewal rate then in effect. You can cancel at any time and receive a refund on all unmailed issues.  But I still think this is a dubious tactic...after all, my subscription did not really continue.

I guess I'll go to the website and cancel my non-existent subscription so they will stop sending these things.  That'll show 'em!

21 comments:

Maillardville Manor said...

That's ridiculous!!! I would be so angry! Make sure to let them know!

Melissa said...

I've seen something like this; I forget which magazine it was. But I had the same reaction as you: what a scam!

Patti said...

I have had the same thing happen! and with a few other mags. What are they going to do next? Repo my magazines????

Paula said...

I hate that continuous renewal system. I had a problem with Country Living doing the same thing to me but they didn't send a "past due" notice.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Scam!! That's just plain awful and deceitful. Someone like my grandmother would see that and send money b/c it makes it look like a past-due bill. I would be so angry!

Angie said...

That is just wrong! Disgusting!

Pine Tree Home said...

I hear ya. I encountered the same thing!

Jenny said...

oh no way! that is the pits!

Twilight40 said...

They did that to me too! As well as some other "reputable" mags:( I called the customer service line and threatened with legal action and they dropped.

Jenn @ WestSacHoney said...

I've gotten those before! I got one from Cosmo yesterday and I know I cancelled that but they gave me a new offer for $10 for 2 years! Lol!

arkie said...

If you check those special price offers, they always have in fine print somewhere, that it will be a continuous service offer. Sadly, I found this out with Southern Living magazine several years ago. It was a hassle to get them to cancel my subscription. I've almost given up on magazines because of this.

lise said...

I'm so glad you posted on this as I too have been receiving bills for magazines I never ordered- Time, House and Garden, etc. I have never subscribed to any of those yet they send a bill. I just told my husband that it was a clever marketing scheme. Some unsuspecting customer could just pay the bill and never question whether they had ordered the magazine.

Anonymous said...

I think they are just desperate. So many people are going online for magazines. I LOVE magazines - I know I am addicted. But, they send these offers for 9.99 for a whole YEAR! Ha! I also give them to the hospital or Goodwill when I am done...but,there is just something about opening the mailbox and seeing a Redbook or Good Housekeeping waiting for me that just sends my heart a-flutter. Elle

CBelle said...

Wow...Makes me wanna boycott that magazine!!!

gail@myrepurposedlife.net said...

Holly, I can totally relate to this. I entered a giveaway on Redbook. I unknowingly ended up subscribing to their magazine. I immediately wrote them and told them what had happened. They sent me the mag any way, and now are billing me for it.
thanks for sharing this!
gail

atbquilting said...

Reader's Digest did this to my 15 year old son, and my husband thought it was legit. Thankfully he talked to me first. I found their email address and strongly suggested they stop sending bills for something we didn't order. The original subscription was a gift -- very annoying. The "bills" stopped coming after I emailed them.

Cass @ That Old House said...

Same thing happened to me. I am just ignoring it. Let them try and collect -- that would be interesting.

I know that magazines are stuggling now but this is NOT the way to win friends and get them to subscribe. Ticking people off is never good business.

Cass

FrouFrouBritches said...

That is infuriating!!! UGH!

Ginny said...

I ended up keeping my subscription with them for years over this. I would pay the collection bill & it would happen over & over. I finally got around to actually canceling & will never subscribe again to them!

netminnow said...

Same thing happened to me. I contacted the 3 credit bureaus to let them know about this as BHG has tried this crap on me before. The Transunion lady said they are aware of this and won't post anything from BHG anymore so they are cutting their own throat in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I just reported BHG to my state's Attorney General (doj, or dept of justice) as well as the US Postal Inspector's complaint website (both were easy to find using google.)

In my case, it was "just" that they'd suddenly started saying I'd agreed to auto-renew (which I would NEVER do). They said when an invoice came, to write CANCEL and send it back, which I did, and of course the envelope they provided required a stamp at my expense.

A month later, they sent a bill "Payable immediately" even though my subscription is good for several more months - AND, the price is 33% higher than last year.

Definitely, I will never subscribe to BHG or any of their magazines again. And I've been a subscriber for over 20 years. Way to go, BHG.

I had just found a really great magazine called "Wood" which I was going to subscribe to till I saw it was part of BHG. Forget it, I'll check out copies from my library!

Ah well, it's been clear for many years that BHG is really nothing more than a front for the murderous pharmaceutical companies. Glad to have them out of my life. But I'm also glad I reported them to the authorities.