Telemarketers call consumers daily in an attempt to sell everything from vacation packages to household services. Consumers should exercise caution before purchasing products or entering into agreements, like those involving magazine subscriptions. An impulse decision to buy a subscription could leave you on the hook for years of monthly payments for magazines that are overpriced and that you may not even want. Thus, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert to help you avoid getting tricked by an unscrupulous magazine salesperson.
"It should be noted that there are telemarketers who offer real deals on subscriptions," said McDaniel. "But there are also telemarketers who target our seniors and vulnerable citizens and mislead them into buying multi-year services that they don't want and don't need."
While sales techniques vary from person to person, there are general signs that point to a possible subscription scam, including:
* A failure to disclose the total cost. A salesperson may try to sell a subscription for "only a few dollars a week," without acknowledging the total cost per year, which might be greater than buying off the rack.
* An offer of a free or pre-paid subscription. Salespeople may try to convince potential customers that the only cost they will incur is for a "processing fee," which, in actuality, may be more than the retail value of the magazine.
* A reluctance by the seller to identify himself or his company. Salespeople may mislead consumers into believing that they represent publishers or that they are calling for reasons other than selling a service, when in fact they are not.
* An offer to "renew" your subscription. The telemarketer may use this offer to imply that your subscription is about to run out when that is not true. You may end up buying years of subscriptions that you do not need, or multiple subscriptions to the same publication.
If you are considering buying a subscription to a magazine from a telemarketer, do not be afraid to ask questions about the service. If the seller is not willing to back-up the offer and disclose the details in writing, you should consider alternative sellers or services. You can always end the conversation by requesting that the caller add your number to his company's "Do Not Call" list, or remind the caller that you are already on the national "Do Not Call" list. You should contact your Attorney General's Office at 501-682-2341 to report a "Do Not Call" violation and to report any incident involving a magazine subscription scam. You can also file a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission's "Do Not Call" Web site, which can be found at www.donotcall.gov.