Friday, February 18, 2005

Expensive Magazine Subscription

A door-to-door salesman caught me at home, which is unusual since I'm not typically home when they call. This one was a young man selling magazine subscriptions. I listened to his spiel, in which he basically said 1) I get points for how many people I visit, and more points if they subscribe to a magazine from me, and 2) at a certain number, I get a scholarship, which sounded to me like reduced tuition at a community college.

I thought sure, why not, I can renew a subscription for a magazine I already take. So I picked out a computer gaming magazine that I need to renew (coincidentally, I had received the renewal information recently), and he wrote up the sales ticket. He presented the bill - 2 years renewal for... $225.

I was shocked - how can 2 years of a magazine be $225?! I had a renewal for the very same magazine upstairs, and it was $35. That is one enormous markup! I looked closer at the receipt and under "number of issues" he had written 120. So I asked if I was getting a decade-long renewal - 120 magazines is 10 years worth. He flipped through the booklet and said no, that is how many issues come out in 2 years. 60 issues per year.

This was of course surprising, as 5 issues a month is more often than a weekly magazine. Plus, I know the magazine in question only comes out once a month. We went back and forth on this, he insisted that according to the subscription information he had in his booklet, that particular magazine was published 60 times a year.

I felt a little bad. I did want to subscribe through him - I'm not sure if the story about a scholarship is true, but on the off chance it was, I wanted to help him reach his goal. On the other hand, there was no way I was spending $225 to renew a magazine that was $35 to renew straight from the publisher.

So I told him I didn't have $225 for a magazine subscription, and I'd need to find another one. I eventually found another computer magazine I could renew, for $60 a year. This of course works out to buying the magazine at the newsstand, but again I figured I could at least do that - even though the regular subscription would be half as much.

The final total came to $68 ($8 processing free - another ripoff). We'll see if the subscription actually gets renewed. In some ways I mentally wrote this off as a very elaborate donation to charity - half to the charity, and half to my magazine subscription. That's cool, I can live with that.

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