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Woman charged more than $14,000 for subscriptions

12:11 PM, Oct 2, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis (KSDK) -- The Better Business Bureau says an 82-year-old widow was charged more than $14,000 for magazine subscriptions, many which she never read.

The BBB says the 82-year-old woman's daughters found the charges when they inspected her credit card statements and checkbook records.  She told them she was too overwhelmed and embarrased to let them know what was happening.

The victim said she was often confused by the companies' sales pitches and did not realize she was ordering new magazines or extending subscriptions on old ones until she received the bills.

Her daughters are trying to get refunds but have only managed to get one $200 refund from one company after canceling a subscription.

The BBB has received several complaints about magazine telemarketers, often from seniors or their families.  Most involve third-party marketers who sell magazines on behalf of publishers.

The BBB and the Federal Trade Commission offers this advice when contacted by magazine sales telemarketers:

  • Be wary of salespeople offering free or reduced-price deals. While they may seem like good buys, the subscriptions can ultimately cost hundreds of dollars.

  • Buy only publications you want, and know exactly what you are paying for them.  Be cautious of sellers who offer to extend subscriptions years into the future by promising discounts.

  • Make sure you understand your cancellation rights and get that information in writing before you buy.

  • Find out how you will be billed for the subscriptions. Avoid giving banking information that allows direct withdrawal from your account.

  • Compare the quoted prices with standard subscription rates by contacting the magazine directly.

  • Do not feel pressured into making immediate decisions. Get a phone number and tell the caller you will phone back if interested.

  • If you do purchase a subscription, pay by credit card in case you wish to challenge the charge in the future.

  • Make sure you get the name of the soliciting company and check with the BBB for a Business Review by going to or by calling 314-645-3300.

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