TIME's "Subscribe For $1.99" Offer Misleading

First, we want to say thanks to TIME Magazine for naming us one of their top 25 blogs. Now that’s out of the way, and we can ask why they’re using such a misleading ad on the masthead of their site: “Subscribe to TIME Magazine for just $1.99″ it says! Yes, but when you click through to the sign up form, you see that your “subscription” is for six issues—six weeks—and that the fine print indicates you also agree to an auto-renewed fee of $19.95 every six months. We don’t mind the $1.99 tryout period, but hiding the real subscription fee in fine print is sneaky. Any magazine with the good taste to recognize our blog should also respect its readers enough to be upfront on the details of its subscription offers.

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  1. ecwis says:

    The Economist is vastly superior to Time.

  2. stenk says:

    This is why I come here! I love you guys!

  3. humphrmi says:

    This is another thing I dislike about auto-renewal magazine subscriptions, and why I’ll never use them:

    and, without interruption, for all subsequent terms at the low subscriber rate then in effect unless you tell us to stop.

    So, first problem: you used to be able to subscribe for one year at the “low subscriber rate” and (of course you pre-paid) the rate didn’t go up for a year. Now they want to be able to raise rates every six months.

    Second problem: no need for you customers to worry your little head about how much your subscription costs! We’ll always renew at the “low subscriber rate” then in effect. Now you don’t need to bother reading pesky rate increase notices! We’ll just raise your rates automatically!

    What a load of crap.

  4. It does say you’ll “enjoy” automatic renewal and see below in bold. So it’s not like they’re trying to hide it, they’re just making you shift your eyes to find it.

  5. Mariajl says:

    Uh… yeah.
    They ALL do this.
    No big surprise.

  6. COED-Mag-Online-Gebsta says:

    I got hit hard by Time Inc and their Sports Illustrated automatic renewal program. Like the drunken idiot that I am I signed up for a Bank of America credit card at a yankee game to receive a free blanket and included was a 10 week trial subscription for SI. little do they tell you that you automatically enroll into an automatic subscription renewell program upon sign up that charges your B of A card $29.99 every six months.

    Its a sly rip off and the same tactics that Joe Francis used to be come an multi gazillionaire with his Girls Gone Wild DVD’s

  7. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    They all do this to one degree or another. I’ve pretty much assumed the worst whenever someone is offering a good deal. That doesn’t make what they’re doing any better, however. Hadn’t realized how sneaky it is until now.

  8. aphexbr says:

    This is hardly news. I subscribed for a while 10 years ago under the same kind of T&Cs (although I think it was 3 free issues then an auto-renewing sub after that). No rip-off involved because I read the offer carefully before signing up.

    If anyone gets fooled by this, let that be a lesson to read the small print before handing credit card details to *anyone*.

  9. aishel says:

    @COED-Mag-Online-Gebsta: You’re supposed to cancel the card when you get it in the mail.

  10. rjhiggins says:

    Breaking news: Companies sign you up at low introductory rates and then put you on auto-renewal at a higher rate, unless you cancel.

    Is this the best you can come up with, Chris? Sorry, but whenever I see a weak post in Consumerist it’s usually yours.

  11. NotATool says:

    Auto-renewals are a great reason not to use a credit card to sign up for a magazine subscription. Make them bill you when it’s time to renew.

  12. milk says:

    Who doesn’t know about this? Every cheap offer in existence does this. Geez, and I thought *I* was uninformed about the world.

  13. hi says:

    @no name: Well since you know everything can you please tell me everything I don’t know so that I won’t ever make any mistakes. Please?

  14. Kevino says:

    Mens Health does this too. You sign up and they send you their books every so often to “review”. You have to mail them back or they charge you and from what I seen there wasn’t an opt out option.

    So I chose not to get the subscription. Oh well.

  15. ScarletsWalk says:

    The thing about auto-renew programs for mail subscriptions is that they are not allowed by the USPS. I believe the rule is that anything that comes by mail is not allowed to just continue without your agreement. The loophole here that Time says is that you agreed to these terms.

    I renewed my subscription last year and I did not auto-renew. I then noticed a substantial charge on my card. When I called Time to dispute it, they claimed I accepted their terms. Even supposing I did, that there was some fine print I overlooked (which I didn’t), I never authorized to charge my card.

    And that’s why this site is helpful: we hear about stupid things like this. The companies might be not breaking a rule by claiming you agree to these terms, but it’s sneaky and not customer friendly.