As a household, we subscribe to a few magazines. Hence we get renewal notices for those magazines regularly, and, the magazine subscription industry being what it is, we usually get two or three renewal notices per magazine subscription. On average maybe a couple per month. All well and good, no problem.
In today’s mail I got this renewal notice for The Economist:
The only issue is I do not actually subscribe to The Economist. I did, a few years ago, and liked it, but I never really found time to read it (it’s a weekly publication after all, with many in-depth articles that reward intelligent reading). Oh, for the days of commuting by Tube to/from the City of London…
Anyway, back to the notice. Because I no longer get The Economist, my guard was up already. Also, it wasn’t from them and didn’t have their branding. Just some outfit called “Associated Publishers Services”, whose website was publisherspayment.com, and who wanted checks writing to “ASPS” (which is not an initialism of their name). The overpowering smell of week-old cod filled the room. Yep, it was certainly fishy.
And there at the bottom of the page in ye olde 8pt font (cf. the 16pt font of “NOTICE OF RENEWAL/NEW ORDER”) we have “RENEWAL OFFER - NOT A BILL”. On the back, in the middle of a bunch of dense text is, “This is a magazine subscription offer, not a bill or invoice.”
Yes, it’s a, er, “renewal offer” (with the legal get-out-of-jail-free phrase at the bottom and sentence on the back) that is designed to look exactly like a renewal notice. In the hopes – obviously – that the person receiving it thinks it’s legit and just pays up to ensure their continued subscription. Nice. Reminds me of these guys.
For fun, I went to The Economist’s site and looked up how much subscribing to 51 issues would be direct from the publisher. Ready? $126.99, for both the print publication and digital delivery. This Renewal
Notice Offer is for $179.95! In two installments of $89.98, if you so wish! And no mention of digital delivery! A friggin’ bargain at only $53 more than the official site; or, if you like, a markup of a mere 42%. Are you ready to pay an extra fifty bucks (a dollar per issue) to have these people as “independent agents” (that’s the phrase they use on the back) between you and the magazine? No, I thought not.
Let’s just check the text on the
notice offer: “By acting now, you can lock in at one of our lowest rates”, “You’re receiving one of the lowest available rates we can offer for your regular subscription” (emphasis mine). Nice evasions there, I must say. On the back is more goodness: you only have seven days to cancel should you have been foolish enough to send them any money, and, “it will be subject to a $20 cancellation fee”. Ooh, super nice.
In my opinion, then, pretty much a scam. Sorry if you got caught by it, but, if not, please watch out for these nasty little
notices offers in your mail.