Coffee heat rising


January 9, 2009

Michael Florek
General Manager
Scientific American
415 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Florek:
I believe your circulation department finally succeeded in snookering me with its flurry of hysterical “your-subscription-is-expired” mailings sent months before the real expiration date.
Because this dishonest tactic has become the custom in magazine fulfillment, I started using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of when I actually pay for subscriptions. However, your flurry started before December, and in the holiday rush I neglected to look up the last date I paid.
Note the enclosed, stating that my subscription has “officially expired,” which arrived last month. Don’t think so. A belated look at the spreadsheet (also enclosed) reveals that I paid for a year’s subscription on 2/20/08. This means that at the time I sent you another check, on 12/9/08, my subscription still had almost two and a half months to run!
This is a rip-off, and I highly resent it. I work for a university, and believe me, my friend, I am not paid what some publishing executive on Madison Avenue earns. I cannot afford to be gouged two or three months in advance for a bill I do not owe.
If you want to keep me as a subscriber, you need to credit me for the extra two months and 11 days I’ve paid for. I will resubscribe (maybe) in February of 2010, which is when the two subscriptions I now own will expire.
You and your fulfillment contractors should be ashamed.
Sincerely, (etc.)

Attached: Letter from Mr. Florek exclaiming the subscription expired, received in December
Excel spreadsheet showing payments on 2/20/07, 2/20/08, and 12/9/08

Well, here’s one of the problems of senility: if your notes to yourself are to work, you have to readthe notes! You can’t read notes to help you remember things unless you remember to read the notes.

Related post: Stay on Top of Magazine Renewals

4 thoughts on “Snookered!”

  1. You have hit on a very sore spot for me. About two months ago, I received a notice from a collection agency stating that if I didn’t pay the money they were claiming that I owed to them on behalf of a magazine, they would puruse collections through the courts and noting this on my credit report. I was outraged as this is a magazine I conciously did not renew for I felt no further need or use for it. A call to the magazine revealed that they assumed that I was renewing because I didn’t tell them I wasn’t renewing. So they “sent me to collections” for failure to pay the renewal fee. Mind you, they weren’t sending me magazines, just bills. A scathing (but polite) letter to them has gone unacknowledged. Surprise, surprise. And ultimately, the publisher of the magainze was Rodale – BIG disappointment.

    Thanks for the post and the thoughts on a spreadsheet.

  2. Isn’t that outrageous!

    The Arizona Republic pulled a similar scam on me. I actually had called and told them to cancel the paper, and they kept right on delivering it. I did not pay for a renewal, and I refused to pay for the papers they delivered after I canceled. They had a collection agent call me up and harass me. A call to the state attorney general’s office solved the problem.

    There are some shady operators out there who prey on legitimate magazines. They send you renewal notices and ask you to re-up, getting you to send the money to their fulfillment operation instead of direct to the magazine. You’ve then paid for a subscription when you get another bill from the real rag, whose circulation department is unaware that you’ve already resubscribed through a different fulfillment house or simply thrown money down a rathole. It’s possible this is what happened with Scientific American. If so, then I’m out a year’s worth of magazines, because I’m not paying twice, even if the first payment went to a con artist.

  3. I love that you wrote in. I hate when they send those letters, knowing that most of us won’t check. It makes me angry and much more likely not to re-up, just on principal. I’ll be looking forward to reading what, if any, response you receive!

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