|Wired Subscriber Gets a Jolt|
|David Lazarus (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
Mon, 11 Jul 2005 14:40:08 -0500
Wired magazine, the bible of the tech set, may have its finger on the|
pulse of all that's cool. But the San Francisco publication has been
using decidedly uncool tactics when it comes to getting some people to
renew their subscriptions.
San Francisco resident Bob McMillan discovered this after choosing to
First came the usual letters warning McMillan, 36, that his
Then Wired's correspondence took a different turn.
In May, McMillan received a letter from North Shore Agency, a leading
"Our objective is to clear your bill quickly and fairly," it said.
A more assertive letter from North Shore, headed "Request for
Then, the other day, a third North Shore letter arrived, headed
"Your account appears as delinquent on our client's files," it warned.
The letter added, ominously: "Respond to this letter or continued
McMillan had ignored the first two letters. Now, however, he's worried
"I'm very angry," he said. "This isn't a real debt. It seems like
Turns out McMillan isn't alone in feeling strong-armed by Wired. A
In each case, the erstwhile Wired readers were told that they had an
In each case as well, the recipients were told that paying the $12
"Since when is letting a magazine subscription expire a debt?" one
Said another: "Talk about a low way to get subscribers. This is
So what does have Wired have to say?
When I first contacted Joe Timko, the magazine's consumer marketing
Timko insisted that it isn't Wired's policy to use a collection agency
"We don't do that," he said. "Or at least that's not our intention."
I asked a North Shore spokeswoman to comment on the matter. She never
In any case, Wired has been using North Shore for a number of years. I
I spoke with Timko again on Thursday. This time, he offered an
But if you read the fine print of these offers, they say Wired will
This is common enough among newspapers. The Chronicle, for example,
But most magazines require readers to renew their subscriptions every
Timko said he checked his files and found that McMillan's subscription
For his part, McMillan said, he couldn't recall being told about an
Wired's Timko said the magazine typically sends out a half-dozen or so
The collection agency was intended solely to spook people into
"We're not going to do that to people," he said. "This was just
Now, Timko said, Wired will rethink the whole thing. He said the
In fact, he said Wired will likely end its relationship with North
It's probably something we shouldn't have done," Timko said of using
I arranged for McMillan and Timko to speak with one another. McMillan
"I turned it down," he said. "I still don't have time to read it. But
David Lazarus' column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He also
Copyright 2005 San Francisco Chronicle
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