How magazine 'trial' turned into $1,000 bill

Woman thought she was just sampling magazines

Like those invitation letters to Hogwarts that showered Harry Potter, the magazines kept coming and coming to the Hornsby Salon, a small family-owned hair salon.

"Starting a business, I have had other worries, and I don't need to be worrying about some magazines that I didn't sign up for or didn't get to pick out," owner Carla Murray says.

Phone caller offers magazine trial

She says it all started with a phone call.

"I was in between customers and didn't have much time, and the lady was talking really fast about all the magazines they had to offer me," she said.

Murray says she never would have agreed to subscribing to almost a dozen magazines for her little salon, and says all she told the woman on the phone was to send her some information. But that "information" apparently translated into "subscriptions." 

Next thing she knew, she had eight subscriptions, and a collection bill for almost $1,000.

"The collection agency, Interstate Recovery Service, wants $925.44," Murray said.

We called the magazine company, Commercial Readers Service, where a woman told me the bill is now out of their hands, and that she could not discuss it further with us. However, the magazine company's Yelp page has a very similar complaint from another salon owner.

The collection agency, Interstate Recovery, meantime, did not return our emails. Interstate's BBB report has similar complaints of collection letters for magazines that had never been ordered.

How to protect yourself

So don't let this happen to you: Be careful agreeing to trial offers. And never give a credit card to someone who calls you: that can lock you in to a lengthy subscription.

Murray is hoping the fact that she never agreed to a subscription will help her get out of the bill in the end.

"I never signed anything, never signed anything," she said.

She also does not believe the magazine company has her credit card info.

So she hopes that telling them "cancel" is enough to stop the magazines, just like Harry Potter's letters.

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