When magazine subscriptions attack


Publishers Clearing House is known for its prizes. You've seen the commercials. The prize patrol is driving around, looking for you, hoping to give you a big fat check for entering its sweepstakes.

Well, television consumer reporter John Matarese, very well known in my neck of the woods (Cincinnati, Ohio) for looking after the little guy -- has an interesting report about how collections letters from magazines are becoming increasingly common.

Nice guy, too. As a former features writer for the now-defunct Cincinnati Post, I used to run into Matarese, who works for ABC's Channel 2, downtown occasionally. But I digress.

Matarese interviewed a Cincinnati man, Matthew Roberson, who received a letter saying he owed $61.92. Roberson was puzzled, certain he hadn't ordered any magazines, and so he contacted Publishers Clearing House, only to learn that a Reader's Digest subscription of his, which had been a gift from his mother-in-law, had lapsed, and he didn't renew it -- hence, the stern letter making it sound like he owed them money.

Originally published