Consolidated Media Services Scams “Subscribers” warns of Consolidated Media Services, a magazine-subscription telemarketing service that is unscrupulously scamming hundreds of dollars from customers who never subscribed to their publications to begin with:

Numerous consumers have contacted in recent weeks to say a collection agency, allegedly acting on behalf of Consolidated Media Services, has demanded as much as several hundred dollars for charges they say go back as far as 1997.

“I received a phone call in 1997 from a telemarketer. I can’t remember all the details exactly, but a short time after the call I started receiving many magazines that I did not request. I tried to cancel but was told that I could not and I ended up paying them over $200,” said Laura, of Pembroke, Massachusetts.

This is way too common, actually. In 1997, I worked for a telemarketing firm (but not as a telemarketer) that specialized in phoned-in grants and human resources publications. Their entire business model was based on the concept of unwitting subscriptions. Telemarketers would call up busy companies and institutions and offer a certain number of free issues to one of their publications. Whatever frazzled receptionist that answered the phone usually took the easy out in getting rid of these cloying hucksters: just saying, “Yeah, send us whatever” and hanging up the phone. The course of free issues would then be mailed off to these organizations, usually addressed to no one in particular, with a small card inserted into the spine warning that if they didn’t physically call and cancel before their free trial ran out, that they would be charged for the subscription.

What this telemarketing company depended on was that the subscription, usually being addressed to no one, would essentially remain unnoticed and that the subscription, when billed, would be unthinkingly paid by someone who didn’t know if the subscription was valid or not. It’s good to see a company finally getting nailed for this practice.