Reporting Susan Koeppen
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you get a notice in the mail telling you it’s time to renew your magazine subscription, make sure you read that renewal carefully.
You could be getting ripped off!
Consumer Editor Susan Koeppen talked with a local man who says he feels duped by a magazine renewal he received in the mail.
Casey Lilly has been a long-time subscriber to Smithsonian Magazine. “We got I guess you could call it a mailer and it was from Magazine Billing Services,” says Lilly.
His wife sent off a check for $99.95 to the company. But a week later – a renewal notice arrived directly from Smithsonian.
“And the actual price of the magazine was like half the price, more than half the price.”
The real price for Smithsonian magazine was $34. The Lilly’s overpaid Magazine Billing Services by more than $65.
“Since it said billing services, we thought it was tied to Smithsonian Magazine,” recalls Lilly.
The mailer from Magazine Billing Services looked legit. It had “notice of renewal” in big red letters, but the company has no actual ties to Smithsonian Magazine. Casey Lilly says the service took his money but never renewed his subscription.
Turns out, the Better Business Bureau has received hundreds of complaints about Magazine Billing Services. And according to the BBB, the company goes by dozens of other names like Circulation Billing Center, National Magazine Services and Publisher’s Billing Services.
“Just because you received a solicitation that mentions the name of the magazine or the publication that you are already subscribed to, it may not be coming from that magazine,” says Caitlin Vancas of the Better Business Bureau.
Under federal law — solicitations that look like bills must clearly state: “this is not a bill” and “you are under no obligation to pay”.
Casey Lilly says he never noticed the disclaimer on the solicitation he received.
“Go through the magazine, don’t go through a second billing service like this,” advises Lilly.
He contacted Magazine Billing Services for a refund but he is still waiting for it. When KDKA contacted the company, we were told a supervisor would call us back, but we never received a phone call.