Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Publishers Services Center: Don't Fall for It

Do you get subscription renewal notices from "Publishers Services Center"? I hope not.

We've never done business with this company, but we've gotten their notices frequently for many years. I usually toss them out unopened. At least a year ago, I got fed up and called them, spent the requisite 20 minutes on hold, and asked them to remove us from their list. They said they would, but did not.

I felt like opening the one that arrived to today. Talk about a rip-off:

A one-year subscription to Mac Life, straight from the publisher, is $24.95, according to the website, and $19.95 if you read the fine print in the magazine. You can always get a deal, of course. I found a subscription offer online: less than $11 for 12 issues.

So who pays $74.85 for a year of Mac Life — with automatic renewal?

People who are busy and not paying attention, that's who. People who mistake these notices for actual invoices from the publisher. People who didn't parse this statement on the "invoice" correctly: "You're receiving one of the lowest available rates WE can offer for your regular subscription."

They can't offer you the much lower, retail price of a subscription because they wouldn't be making an easy $50 or $60 a year off you. Every year. With automatic renewal.

To stop that automatic renewal, you'd have to call them. Good luck with that.

The sad thing is that what they are doing is probably perfectly legal. It's just taking advantage of people who aren't sharp enough to smell a rat.

As I wrote this, I was on hold with Publishers Services Center. (I have a speaker phone so I did other things as I waited, too.) After 20 minutes, I was shifted to voicemail without their mentioning it, and then I was disconnected. They got to hear me typing this for several minutes, anyhow. I'll call them again later to ask, among other things, what they are doing while they put everyone on hold for 20 minutes. I suspect they are sitting there, reading cheap magazines and twirling their long, black dastardly mustaches. I can't imagine their call volume is that high, so it must be their standard ploy to frustrate people. But I have loads of time and lots of curiosity, so I'll be be trying them again, when I'm in complete command of my temper. I just think it's such a nasty way to make a living. If I find out anything amusing, I'll post it here.

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