We’ve received two letters claiming that Hollywood video is signing their customers up for magazine subscriptions without their consent. The scam sounds similar to the ones that Best Buy is accused of in their on-going racketeering lawsuit.
I’m currently out of town on a long business trip, and my wife told me about a somewhat disturbing thing that happened.
While I’ve been gone, I started receiving issues of Entertainment Weekly (which neither I nor my wife have any interest in reading). The label had my name on it, so it wasn’t a matter of us getting someone else’s magazine. My wife, who is rather wary of such things, called up EW and asked what was going on. The EW employee with whom she spoke told her that Hollywood Video had run a promotion, where customers received eight free issues of EW. The next logical question, of course, was “what happens after those eight issues?”
My wife was told that unless the customer canceled, they would be billed for a one-year subscription of EW. Now, I had never heard of the promotion, and never would have agreed to receive the free issues in the first place even if they had been offered to me. I don’t know whether this has happened to anybody else, or whether this is an isolated incident, but I thought it might be worth sending in.
Apparently its not an isolated incident because we just received this email from reader Stephen:
My wife recently set up an account at the local Hollywood Video branch. We haven’t had this membership two weeks and today I got what looked like an advertisement from Entertainment Weekly Magazine in the mail. It was a glossy post card that I almost threw away. Instead I read it and noticed that it was a notice about my “subscription” to Entertainment Weekly and it had a Hollywood Video logo on the front of it.
Apparently when my wife signed up for the video rental account they automatically (as in without asking her permission) signed her up for a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. The notice I received said we would be getting 8 free issues and then they would bill our credit card $29.95 under the Automatic Renewal program if she didn’t cancel. I wondered how they would bill a credit card number they didn’t have so I went to the website they pointed me to, http://ww.ew.com/customerservice and logged in with the account number on the post card. Sure enough there was my credit card number and an outstanding balance of $29.95. I quickly canceled my “account” with EW.
I can’t believe Hollywood Video would be so bold as to hand over my credit card number to another company without even asking first. If this isn’t dirty I don’t know what is.
Thought you guys might like to know.
It sounds as if there’s something shady and possibly illegal going on at Hollywood Video.
Has this happened to anyone else? Please tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Hollywood Video” in the subject.