Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Profit prohet part 2 - Magazine subscriptions

I hadn't planned this post, it just came up yesterday. In the morning, I went to fill my tank ($1.65/gallon - woohoo!) and my credit card was denied. Later in the day my wife said one of her Christmas purchases (online) was returned. Being the master sleuth, I looked at these two events and recognized a pattern.

My wife called the credit card company and after speaking to one of India's finest found out there was a charge from a "highly fraudulent" company, so the card was put on hold. (Why didn't they call me to tell me this? That's work for another day). Anyway, it seems a subscription renewal service had charged $94.64 for a magazine. I won't publish the name of the mag, but let's just say it's devoted to sports and is very well illustrated. I like the photos and my son likes the stories.

So, my wife called the magazine to find out about the charge. I distinctly remember getting a "courtesy card" a few weeks ago telling me the renewal was coming. I didn't know if it was a 2 or 3 year renewal. When she asked, she was told this was for 1 year. She explained that she thought this was a lot of a year and was asked if we had received any promotions. No, she explained, this was an automatic renewal.

After thinking a bit, the gentleman reduced the price to $49.84, a 47% savings. Two more calls to India's finest at my credit card company and the card was reactivated.

Now, the magazine is definitely entitled to a profit. They have some of the best photography I've ever seen. They have to pay those photographers and a lot of writers. They have to distribute the mags. And some investor wants to see some return on his/her money. But they don't have to have over 100% profit and they don't have to get it from me.

So, here's the moral of the story (that I learned yesterday). Never use automatic renewal on the magazines. Always ask for a lower price. The savings will buy my wife and I dinner.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the grins! Glad you got it worked out.

Yes, why didn't they just call the card owner?!

Brooke said...

I have a couple of mags I enjoy, and I always let the subscription run out and wait for the "here's the bargain basement if you puh-lease come back" letter.


I can't believe that SI had the cajones to charge you $100 for a one year renewal. Dayam.

Adam said...

I had a similar (without the credit card issue) situation with my Golf Digest subscription. My 2 year subscription is set to expire, so I got a 1 year for $24 promo on autorenewal. I called to say no, and they gave me 2 years for the same $24 just because I asked!

Anonymous said...


David said...

That company is horrible with their customer retention policies it seems. Several years ago my family decided to let a subscription expire and they sent us a little piece of junk mail (the kind that usually goes straight to the trash) telling us that "for our convenience" they would create a Sports Illustrated MBNA credit card in the subscribers name and bill our re-subscription fee to it unless they heard back from us (and then I guess they'd send us the paperwork).

Nena said...

So since I saved us a dinner out on the town, when can we go? :)

Randy said...

Wow, six comments - I think that's a personal best.

Neil, I've been trying to figure out why they didn't call me. I need to make another call to India and have a discussion. Fodder for another blogpost.

Brooke, a lesson learned, I'll do that next time. The cover price is actually over $250 for 56 issues, so I guess the normal subscription price is 63% discout. My new price is 80% discout. Sadly, I've now seen prices on the web at 85% discounts and a new fleece jacket was included. Next year....

Adam, ditto everything I just said.

Anonymous, mmmm as in good, or as in thought? Thanks for stopping by.

David, I think I would have threatened legal action if someone automatically signed me up for a credit card. In today's world of identity theft, I would have at least gotten a few MBNA trinkets.

Nena, Dinner was last night. Hope you enjoyed it.

Nena said...

Who would ever think my "BIG" dinner came from El Tejano's. I enjoyed being with you & Adam.

I Love You.

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Randy said...

First, welcome to my blog. Thanks for commenting.

Second, I'm curious how you found this old entry? Pleased, but curious.

Third, Your idea of a combination of offline and online marketing makes sense. I would think offline marketing (newspapers and magazines) would be a bargain these days. I've also noticed radio & TV ads for advertising, makes me think those guys are hurting too.

Final comment. You mentioned that you have a product you sell online and didn't try to plug it. Kudos to you!! I get a fair number of spam attempts here. You win a free prize for avoiding the temptation. If you'll tell me your product and website, I'll look at it. Either post it here (but I reserve the right to comments as I see fit) or find my email address in my profile and send me a note.