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Local newspaper chain finds new way to make money: Send you something you didn't ask for, then charge you for it

Dan Kennedy reports GateHouse Media has begun sending subscribers to its weekly newspapers a new magazine-ish thing - and then adding the cost of it to their bills, which means their subscriptions start running out sooner. And because many subscribers have their bills set to auto-renew, they might not even notice what's going on.

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Analogue media figured out a way to compete with digital, use the same shady opt out features present in so much on the internet.

I got a freee credit report once then a few months later noticed they were charging me 10 dollars a month for "access" that I do not remember asking for BUT I did not opt out from. Even worse they charged my card the day before my billing cycles ended at 11pm every month. So when I went to go do my regular sweep on spending on my card I missed it because it already cycled over to the next month. I only noticed as early as I did because I sat down to balance my accounts out after 3 months and saw a weird recurring charge. Bank of America took it off my bill and forced them to cancel it but it was eye opening.

How did Gatehouse think it was going to go over when people realized that their paper bill went up by 40 percent over the course of the year because of some magazine nobody ever heard of?

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When you sign up for a subscription, you're paying for a stated duration of service. It's in the contract. When they quietly upcharge you for the "premium" add-on, they don't have the legal ability to unilaterally change the terms of your original contract. It's especially galling that they use language like "up to 12" editions of the "premium" publication. That's not how contractual language works.

I don't know how long they've been doing this, but it's all sorts of illegal. If Healey doesn't go after them for it, the class action suit ought to be enough to destroy the company and salt the earth beneath it.

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Very slimy.

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I had no idea I was paying for it. It struck me as a crappy, advertising-heavy mag aimed at Millennials.

I'll be calling to get that crap taken off my account.

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my last two print media supscriptions because of their billing practices.

Every month- from two different publishers, even when my subscription was nowhere near expiring-I got a fake "Past Due", "URGENT PAY NOW!" bill, saying that I needed to maintain my subscription by paying NOW or risk losing it. They were phrased to look like real bills, deliberately obfuscating the publisher and the expiration date of the subscription on the letter and on the envelope.

Then, once one of the subscriptions lapsed (I had no idea, because I got bills every month for two years saying the subscription was expired and couldn't tell which were real any more,) I started getting e-mails that read this:
"Your balance due for MAGAZINE is now several months outstanding.We anticipated you would remit payment for your order when billed. We have sent you numerous bills that have gone unpaid. Please submit your payment immediately."

I decided I didn't need the hassle of being harassed like a deadbeat over a fluffy magazine subscription, and canceled them both.

I very deeply regret that I didn't save all of the letters and submit them to the Attorney General's office as evidence of billing fraud.

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If some other business charged customers like this for products they didn't order, I'd expect my local paper to write it up as an exposé of consumer fraud.

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....no need to subscribe to ANYTHING in print anymore.

even I preferred newspapers/magazines in print form, I'd be inclined to get them at my corner store or news stand. Supports a local business and no dealing with invoices, tip solicitations or shady billing practices.

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