Wired Editor Reveals Magazine Subscription Card Lies

Wired Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson annotated a typical magazine subscription card to showcase its numerous lies. He asks, “Why do magazine circulation departments treat people like idiots?” Then he answers his own question: “because it works.”

When Is My Industry Going To Stop Lying? [The Long Tail via BoingBoing]


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  1. darkened says:

    Wow i feel really stupid after finding out I can get 3 year magazine subscriptions on ebay for $7 and $8…

  2. savvy999 says:

    I actually appreciate the genius of marketing language; it’s the art of persuasion, pushed by the free market, to its bleeding edge.

    As long as the company doesn’t lie in a fiduciary sense (e.g., only send 10 issues when you paid for 12, etc), they can make all of the outrageous claims they want on a worthless card, and it’s up to us Consumerists and our steel-trap minds to catch their tricks.

  3. BigNutty says:

    This kind of marketing is aimed at a 7 year old. It’s like a product you see on an infomercial.

    Included in this offer for the first 500 callers absolutely FREE is:

    1. Instructions.
    2. A display box.
    3. Anything else you are so stupid to believe.

  4. Tim says:

    They forgot one “100% Satisfaction guarantee” LIE.

  5. tubby says:

    there’s a postcard in Wired every month that blows my mind. It’s something along the lines of “Buy a gift subscription and get one for yourself for one low price!”…and it’s just the cost of two regular magazine subscriptions.

  6. mammalpants says:

    how and where can i purchase all of these lies circled above? im am very interested.

  7. badteaparty says:

    I didn’t know about ebay, but I always thought it was funny that our “this old house” subscription is always sending us these “special” renewal offers, which are much WORSE rates than what you can get by going to the newsstand and ripping the 9.95/year offer out of the magazine. Usualy the rate they offer me as a subscriber is more than double that.

  8. jrdnjstn78 says:

    I have been getting magazines off the internet for free. As soon as my one year subscription is up they start sending me those “special offers”. I don’t renew, I just wait until they are offered free again.

  9. MeOhMy says:

    My favorite are the ones for magazines like InformationWeek where you get the card that says that since you’re a highly respected and awesome professional in your field, they’ll send you a year’s subscription for FREE! If you forget to sign up by the deadline, don’t worry, you can still subscribe for the awesome rate of $200 for the year!

  10. DrGirlfriend says:

    I love all the “special rate for professionals in the field” I get. I am aparently a professional in foreign affairs, politics, fashion, and who knows what else. I’m just slumming it in my current job right now, because I’m not sure the world is ready for my wide and diverse array of professional knowledge.

  11. mattshu says:



  12. scarletvirtue says:

    I tend to get several different offers from the magazines that I currently subscribe to, so I usually look at what Magazine X is offering to renew my subscription, what their rate is through that magazine postcard, etc.

    Sometimes, I’ve just renewed the magazines through the cards in the magazine because it’s cheaper than what they’re offering me in their boilerplate letter.

  13. iamme99 says:

    Speaking of subscriptions to magazines, there are some mags that automatically sell your info to others, even if you tell them not to. You have to then find out that they are at the root and hound them to stop doing it. One example is the magazine Smithsonian, which I subscribe to.

    I had managed to stop most junk mail until these guys sold my info to a slew of others. Sheese.

  14. niteflytes says:

    I read my magazines at the library. If you don’t mind reading them when they’re not the most current issue you can even take them home.

  15. jmschn says:

    Slickdeals.net & Fatwallet.com = free mag subscriptions. Maxim for free through 2010 (had it since 2003)

  16. theblackdog says:

    @iamme99: I just had that happen to me thanks to those Smithsonian Magazine bastards.

  17. GearheadGeek says:

    Another thing to do if you subscribe is to renew late. I’ve noticed that most magazines send progressively cheaper renewal offers as you get closer to your last issue in your current subscription.

  18. mammalpants says:

    ive noticed a few great magazines that must have horrible database management and i still get them for free!! (i would tell you which ones, but i don’t ever want it corrected!)

    my suggestion…get free subscriptions online and never renew them. see if they keep coming and when they stop, just find more free deals.

  19. Electroqueen says:

    Bah! I never got my PC Mag CD, and those rat @!#$#$ at the subscription dept. bothered to charge $25 when the going rate is $19.
    I’m sticking with free mags or eBay.

  20. Craig says:

    If truth in advertising were applied to infomercials: “Order before midnight tonight or you’ll have to order tomorrow!”

  21. TangDrinker says:

    All of the above tricks for getting cheaper subscriptions are good advice. I would advise you to talk to your parents or other older relatives who subscribe to print magazines such as Time, Fortune, etc. They are notorious for sending you a renewal, getting you to pay, and then sending you another renewal tricking you into paying twice. It happens all the time, even to those of us in the library field. You can often tell when your renewal date is by checking the address label – it should list the date of expiration on the top left line.