Magazine shenanigans

On the inside back cover of Consumer Reports, there is usually at least one example of a fraudulent or misleading magazine solicitation. My husband’s favorite is the one that was a check. When you endorsed it, you authorized someone to charge you for the cost of a subscription, which was, of course, greater than the amount of the check. I’ve had a spate of solicitations, recently, some more insidious than others.

One, from Cook’s Country, I would like to think is just an administrative error. It took me some time to renew my subscription, I did it online, then our next issue had the “YOUR LAST ISSUE” brand on it. I double checked to make sure we had indeed paid them; we had. So I ignored it, and hope that no more solicitations would be forthcoming. In my other interactions with Cook’s, they have been sometimes slow, but scrupulous, especially about renewing our online subscription.

Another, from Everyday Food, is a little more suspicious. Friends recommended the magazine, and I decided to give it a try and signed up for a new subscription online. I got the magazine promptly, but I also got a bill. And another. I checked to confirm that I paid them; I did. If I get one more bill I’ll probably cancel the subscription. The magazine is fine. It’s a nice digest size, and it has recipes that are easy to shop for and prepare. Unfortunately, as my father is fond of saying, everything is a compromise. I’ve found that the recipes compromise convenience for flavor. This is a magazine for good ideas, but I’ve not yet made a recipe good enough to make again. I was already uneasy about giving money to the Martha Stewart empire. While the magazine is good, it’s not good enough to excuse sloppy or deceptive billing.

Finally, last week I received a “bill” from Yoga Journal, a magazine I subscribed to a couple years ago. It’s a lovely magazine, with good paper quality, good yoga information, and many stories about the spiritual side of yoga that is often forgotten in its trendiness as exercise. Apparently, the spirituality does not extend to solicitation practice. The item I received said it was an invoice for a three year subscription for $65. Funny, I don’t recall having contacted them to request a subscription. I discarded the “bill”.

These are all good reminders of why I’ve cut my magazine subsciptions to almost nothing. Not only are you getting a magazine, you’re getting all their solicitations and sometimes solicitations from others. Subscriptions are a tempting deal. They are inexpensive compared to individual issues. They also play to your fear that you might “miss” something if you don’t get every issue. What I’ve found, though, is that my life is a lot simpler and less cluttered when I don’t have magazines and their solicitations piling up. And I have more time because I don’t have to check whether I’ve paid or not. If I don’t have a subscription, then I don’t owe them anything. I can pick up single issues on a whim, and I buy them rarely enough that they never add up to the cost of a subscription. I must, though, admit to having taken some magazines away from recent doctor appointments. This is not a practice I can really condone as a way to avoid subscriptions.

4 Responses to “Magazine shenanigans”

  1. elle Says:

    I cannot believe your last two lines of this post. I just did that very thing not 2 hours ago, after having had a mental argument with myself over it. Was taking the magazine a wrong that could be righted by the sweetpotato cheesecake recipe? I guess I’ll find out on Thursday.

  2. Becca Says:

    Now I know why the only magazines at my doctor’s office are Reader’s Digest and three-year old Redbooks. You two (and probably many more THIEVES just like you) are boosting them. Thanks a lot!

  3. girldetective Says:

    When I do it, I cushion my guilty conscience thusly: I only take a mag that the waiting room has mulitple copies of, and once I’m done, I give it to a friend or leave it at a coffee shop, thereby passing it on. Perhaps I should even return it to the doc’s office on my next visit, like a library. But I have noticed the past couple times at my OBs that the only magazines there are zillions of copies of Minnesota Baby, or some such undesirable magazine.

  4. Nopenname Says:

    I think the magazines at the OB are meant to be taken. I only say this because there are STACKS of the same issue of Expecting, Fit Pregnancy, Parenting, and Ser Padres at my OB.

    And there aren’t that many chairs that even if every single person in the waiting room was reading the same magazine they’d all be used.

    I haven’t taken any but that’s my suspicion based on the amounts of them at the office.