When Johnny started receiving different magazines in the mail, he was a bit perplexed.
With titles like Family Fun, Budget Travel, EveryDay, and Better Homes and Gardens, he set them aside. He’d never ordered these magazines.
“But when I got an early renewal notice for Woman’s Day, I knew something was wrong,” the Pocatello resident says. “So, I started calling around.”
Johnny says he can’t recall receiving a phone pitch, door-to-door approach, mail offer or clearing house sweepstakes flier.
“That’s why I started calling back to the subscription departments,” he says.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, some unscrupulous salespeople trick consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for multi-year subscriptions. In addition, subscribers unwittingly respond to prize offerings, or special drawings, with the thought they must buy a subscription to enter. Both can create trouble for consumers.
When Johnny called, Woman’s Day, he was told the subscription information was provided by Priority One Clearing Services (727-443-2200) of Clearwater, Fla. Priority One official said the information for the subscriptions were provided by Direct Clearing, of Farmington, Minn. (866-494-1010). Direct Clearing says they received the order from Your Magazine Services.
During a call back from Your Magazine Service, a representative told him he had to pay immediately or go to court, and that they had his bank account information and the amount owed would be taken from his account. Your Magazine Service is in Chaska, Minn. (866-915-9921).
Johnny has not received a bill or paperwork from any of these companies. When he asked them to send paperwork, they’ve refused.
He’s recorded several calls daily from 631-604-0448 and 514-822-3503 wanting to collect for the magazine subscriptions. One caller said if he doesn’t pay $400 by phone immediately, “they will take me to court for the unpaid subscriptions.”
BBB called the numbers, and the men who answered refused to answer questions and seemed angry and acted rudely on the phone.
John Benjamin, from American Readers’ Club, is identified when calling the 631- number in the New York area. BBB tried several times, but the same man answers the phone, or BBB has been directed to a voicemail box. The voice, in a heavy accent, says he is from the collections department and if you have this number, “you owe money.” He ends with “have a blessed day.” The second number is in the Quebec, Canada, area code and is a cell phone number that goes to voice mail that has not been set up.
There is no BBB listing for “American Readers’ Club” and the phone number does not match a business name. There are, however, two listings for American Reading Club, in Illinois and the other in Georgia also dba North Atlanta Magazine.
If you think you’ve been victimized by a magazine subscription scam, contact the BBB to file a complaint. You may also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Write: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580, or go to www.ftc.gov. Although the FTC does not intervene in individual disputes, the information you give may show a pattern of possible law violations requiring action by the commission.
If you did order magazines, or if the cancellation period has expired, or you paid in full, the company may not be required to refund your money or cancel your subscriptions.
If you don’t make proper payments on time, you could get demand payment notices and calls from collection agencies, threats of legal action, or a bad credit rating.
If you don’t want a subscription, and you don’t want to be called again, tell the callers to put you on the company’s “do not call list.” If the company calls again, hang up. It’s breaking the law. Report it to your state Attorney General and the FTC.