Over the past few months, several members of my family started receiving magazines that we did not want or request. In some cases, we had duplicate subscriptions. My teenaged daughter and I, for example, were each receiving a identical issue of People magazine. I spent the entire weekend investigating this, and discovered that charges had been applied to my credit card without my knowledge. These charges were for three reputable magazines. When I checked on the status of my "subscription" for these magazines online, it directed me to a company called Synapse. I should also note that we are receiving unwanted magazines from other companies as well, including Subco and Valuemags.
I called Synapse and talked to some guy who was obviously working off of a script. He asked me several times why I wanted to cancel, even though I kept telling him that I never ordered these and didn't want them. I went to the Synapse website, which looks very legitimate. It is owned by Time Inc., and supposedly a good place to work and generous with charities. The BBB rates them as A+. They are proud to have patented a system they call "continuous service". It "eliminates the inefficiencies and inconveniences of the traditional model". I suspect that this allows them to renew subscriptions with minimal input from the consumer.
I talked with a representative of my credit card company, and he shared some very interesting information. Apparently most magazines are now owned by giant media conglomerates who use distribution companies like Synapse. Once they obtain your credit card info, they do so in a manner that allows them quite a bit of lee-way. He said that if I authorized a subscription to a magazine years ago with my credit card, it is very possible that they might use that same card to pay for other subscriptions now...even though I didn't want the new subscriptions or consent to the more recent charges on my card. Apparently this is perfectly legal.
So...if you are receiving any unwanted magazines, this is what I would suggest: Cancel each one via snail mail, online and phone. Deactivate your current credit card. And don't ever purchase any magazine subscription with a credit card in the future. After this misadventure, I think it's safe to say that I will never purchase any magazine subscription under any circumstances ever again.
It's outrageous that we should have to waste our time and effort on such ridiculous issue. But this is no boiler room operation or some gang of Russian hackers. This concept is straight out of Corporate America. So I would strongly recommend to anyone affected by this that you contact your members of Congress and encourage them to enact more effective oversight and regulation of this industry.