I just got a postcard from one of the magazines I subscribed to via ValuMags (Red Herring). Apparently, ValuMags had "made an error" and informed them I had requested "lifetime renewals" which means they'll keep sending insues and an invoice. I'm skeptical this was an error, and suspect someone is pulling a fast one. I have not had any other problems with ValuMags or Red Herring, but I wanted to warn others and see if this has happened to others.
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I also got a postcard thanking me for renewing, which I had no intention of doing. (This magazine was fun during the dotcom boom but really stinks now - funny thing that.)
When I called Red Herring, I asked why they had renewed my account. They said that I had renewed on Nov. 11. I said that I had not. They asked if I had called them for any reason; I said no. They then cancelled the renewal, no mention of ValuMags, and no apology either. I smell a scam of some kind, but I'm not sure whether I attribute it to ValueMags or Red Herring.
The scam is Red Herring originated. We subscribed but not through Valuemags and had the same issue. First we received a post card thanking us for the renewal, then received a second asking us to call as the credit card that had been used had since been cancelled. The couldn't explain who authorized the renewal, just that we'd indicated a lifetime renewal option when subscribing which is a no way situation.
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I think Atlanta consumer advocate Clark Howard (who does a radio show heard in a number of other cities as well) has been warning people off subscribing to some of the major Time Warner AOL titles for suscriptions because they've imposed "auto-renew." (i.e. customer must opt out of renewal rather than opting in). IMO this is an abuse of the trust consumers have in giving out credit card info, and also the kind of self-serving practice that it unfortunately takes boycotts to stop.
If this is the case with RH, I think it's also legitimate to complain to ValuMags. They're serving as the conduit and can't escape being a party to it. The right thing for VM to do would be to stipulate to publishers that auto-renews don't apply or VM doesn't carry the title, but that kind of backbone is too rare in business today.
I got the "lifetime renewal option" foisted on me as well. I thought I had cleared it up, but now I see a mysterious charge on my Visa bill for $29.95, which just might be the one-year renewal price for Red Herring. The charge is from "Ebiz Solutions", dated 10/18. Has anybody else gotten this, or is it more likely a non ValueMags/Red Herring related credit card scam?
I ran into this over the last 2 years, and have had a real fight on my hands every October...
Mine was with Conde Nast/Classmates/3rd party subscription service: turns out the source of the problem was a joint-run pop-up offer on the Classmates site.
Even though the offer was initially refused, it used the same cc# as the Classmates subscription and intiated an auto-renew to CN!
It took a really long time to track this down, and then an honest person at the subscription company to tell me what had happened so I could pursue it properly.
Cancelled/dead issue right? Wrong!
Next October, charge on account!
Not one, but two magazines this time!!!
Seems that once you have a subsription service involved even the magazine can't lock them out of making changes on your account- they just file a bogus address update, and voila access to your file again- which they then reactivate.
CN was BESIDE themselves over this, since is very much not their style, but just could not keep these people out of their computer database
"The scam is Red Herring originated. We subscribed but not through Valuemags and had the same issue. First we received a post card thanking us for the renewal, then received a second asking us to call as the credit card that had been used had since been cancelled. The couldn't explain who authorized the renewal, just that we'd indicated a lifetime renewal option when subscribing which is a no way situation."
I asked them who authorized the lifetime renewal, ValuMags? To which RH said yes. But I tend to believe your theory that its a scam by RH, not VM. I think I just supplied a possible culprit who they conveniently blamed.
Mag subscriptions are one of the few things in this world that I purposely go out of my way to pay for with a check. That way I know they can't jam me up for more money without my knowledge.
A couple of years ago, I was getting Time Magazine for about four months after my subscription ended. I told them about three times I didn't want to renew. But they kept sending magazines and nasty letters saying that "This is your LAST magazine - really, we mean it this time!" for about four more months...
Next time I get a subscription, I will definitely use the one-time CC number. That is a great idea.
I too received a "thank you for renewing" from RED HERRING. I called them and they said it was renewed 11/11/02 (the same as a prior post). They cancelled the renewal.
Red Herring 800 number: 800-627-4931