Monday, April 20, 2009

Dear Magazine Publishers Of America

I would be more concerned about your inability to turn a profit right now if your subscription operations weren’t so fraudulent.

For example, just because I signed up for a 5K race back in February doesn’t mean I want to get People Magazine for $119 a year, or National Geographic Adventure for $31. These things were automatically charged to my credit card, without my permission or any notification, without so much as an e-mail or postcard. Suddenly I find I’m $150 in the hole, and while it’s possible I signed up for a “free trial offer” (I don’t remember doing so, but I can only guess that’s what happened) it’s reasonable to expect such offers to END when the trial period is over.

Should I have read the fine print? Maybe. But, you know, it’s obvious you’re counting on people to not read the fine print to make your money. IOW, you’re running a scam.

So, fuck you.

And when I call you to stop this nonsense and end my subscriptions, I don’t appreciate hearing a recitation of bizarre offers that sound an awful lot like I’m going to be out another $150 a year. Or how about the one where you say you’ll cancel my subscription and give me a full refund but send me two issues for $1. I mean, come on, you’re sending me those issues anyway, free, because it takes your fulfillment people that long to get their shit together. I used to work in magazine publishing, honey. I know how fulfillment works.

Or, how about this one, the one where you send some kids to my house who pretend to live in the neighborhood, selling subscriptions for a “school trip.” Ha ha, that’s a good one. Because no matter what magazine you think you're buying, you end up with some cheesy Christian family magazine you never heard of and never in a million years would ever want to read.

Hey, fuck you people, too.

Or, how about this one: if you want to subscribe to a magazine, how come the blow-in card says it’s one price, the on-line price is something else, the newsstand price is something else, and if you call the 800 number and do a little negotiating, you can get a “professional courtesy” price that’s completely different (and a lot lower)? What’s up with that?

No wonder you guys are going out of business. Buying a magazine looks increasingly like buying healthcare. Everything is a scam, they try to fleece you coming and going, and you never really know how much anything costs.

Times are tough for you right now, and I'm really sorry -- no, strike that, extremely sorry, since as a content provider (i.e., writer), I have depended on you for my livelihood. But when your business model depends on acting like con artists, I have to think we're all a little better off if we parted ways.