Buyers Tips

Magazine Subscription Solicitations

Your BBB receives thousands of complaints each year from consumers who have unknowingly purchased multi-year magazine subscriptions. Unscrupulous telemarketers and door-to-door salespeople sometimes trick consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for multi-year subscriptions to magazines they don't want or can't afford. Oftentimes, the presentations are so slick that consumers aren't even aware that they have bought several magazine subscriptions until they receive the bill. When a salesperson offers a package of magazines for a few dollars a week, it may sound like a real bargain. Yet the deal may include inflated prices and subscriptions stretching over several years. Extremely late delivery or non-delivery is also a common complaint.

Young people may also approach you in public places and tell you they are trying to raise money for a trip or a certain cause. These solicitations typically do not involve extremely high costs for the magazines but complaints reflect delivery problems. People often do not get the magazines for an unreasonable amount of time or never receive them at all.

If you're contacted by a magazine telemarketer or door-to-door salesperson, listen carefully to the initial sales presentation. Don't be afraid to interrupt and ask questions. If you're not interested, say good-bye and hang up. If it sounds like a good deal and you're interested in buying, ask the caller for his or her name, and the name, address and telephone number of the company. Contact your BBB for a reliability report on the company. Before buying anything, ask for the total yearly cost of each magazine and of the whole package. Compare those costs to regular magazine subscription rates. Also, ask to receive a written copy of the sales terms offered.

Don't give your credit card number or bank account number unless you're certain you want to buy and you know that the company is a reliable one. Otherwise, your account numbers could be used to make unauthorized purchases.

While there are legitimate companies selling magazine subscriptions over the phone, watch out for salespeople who avoid giving you their name or the company's name. These people may not even say they are selling magazine subscriptions. They may even imply they represent a major credit card company or magazine publisher.

If and when you agree to buy, some sellers may want to tape your telephone conversation to prove you understand all the terms of the agreement. In some states, your verbal agreement to buy may become an immediate legal contract. If you wish to cancel your subscriptions, you must do so in writing. Under the Federal Trade Commission's Mail Order Rule, you may cancel your order within three days of the receipt of the agreement.


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