Before I get into my experience with Magazine Services of America (MSA), I'd like to first share with you a shocking look at their business in a larger scale.
Going unnoticed from your checking account or credit card, debiting $38.32 a month can translate to approximately $500 a year for magazine subscriptions!
Imagine if their database has over 250,000 if not more, being abused. This translates into big business. Approximately $115 million dollars a year. There are over 300 million people in the United States. This represents a little less than 1% of the population.
This is the dishonest business goal of Magazine Services of America (MSA.) They are in the business to latch on to consumers' pockets at a relatively unnoticeable monthly amount; dishonestly and ruthlessly for as long as they can.
Even if you didn't agree to magazine subscriptions, they will find a way to get into your checking account or credit card, employing deceptive tactics, such as lying and scaring the elderly into alleged "unpaid" bills they never agreed to, costing them close to $500 a year for a product they possibly never received.
I audited my parent's bank account and noticed the electronic charges of $38.32 every month(other Rip-off reportees were also charged this very exact amount.)
I'm sure you know the frustration in calling MSA to end the charges. Many hang-ups. Asking to speak to "supervisors." Asking for their corporate credentials.
When you call, you ought to write down who you talked to, the time, date and what was said. Threaten that you will call the Florida Attorney General.
Now days, mobile phones are made with capabilities to record a conversation or you can put the other party on your landline speaker phone and record the conversation directly into recording device. This will help in small claims court.
They have their bases covered when you call, to ensure that you will just give up with no hope. Don't frustrate yourself. Hang up and take action. I'm here to tell you that there is hope to pinch their unscrupulous business practices.
CORPORATE SHELL GAME
I looked up MSA's corporate filing with the Florida Secretary of State and found two companies. Both located at the same address in Tamarac, Florida. 1) MSA LLC 2) MSA Inc.
Both MSA entities changed their address as of May 3, 2006 to 8301 W. McNab Rd., Tamarac, FL, 33321.
MSA LLC's address on my parent's electronic check view is7378 W. Atlantic Blvd. #222, Margate, FL 33063 as of May 2006. I didn't see a file of a change of address to Tamarac, FL, so the Margate address could still be their physical location.
On August 4, 2006, MSA LLC filed a "foreign limited liability" status with the Secretary of State. This helps to avoid liability as well.
MSA LLC's registered agent is Bruce Newman. The registered agent is the person who will receive your small claims complaint on behalf of the defendant.
From the corporate details of MSA LLC, another company named Terramar Management LLC acts as the main operator/manager of MSA LLC. This is, so that Bruce Newman avoids personal liability.
MSA Inc. formally requested their name change on August 11, 2006 to Gem Global Industries, a "Florida profit" company---probably a shell company.
MSA Inc.'s registered agent is Christopher Nelms with an address of 901 S.E. 7th Ct., Deerfield Beach FL 33441. He is also the Director/Officer of Gem Global Industries.
If you research the corporate filing of Christopher Nelms, he also has another address of 5609 NW 84th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33351. This address supposedly was a previous place of business.
My story begins..
My parents are in their mid-seventies. They are victims of Magazine Services of America. My complaint has been made with the Florida Attorney General. I urge you to do the same.
Magazine Services of America claims to sell "pre-paid magazine subscriptions." I do not know how they accessed my parent's checking account to electronically charge them $38.32 every month. My mother and father say they did not give them permission.
STOLEN MAILING LIST?
I suspect and, do mean suspect, my parents are on a large mailing list somewhere. The only entity that seems suspicious and shows up in their mail is Publisher's Clearing House. They sell and offer magazine subscriptions! I wonder if someone inside of this company is selling names. Just a thought.
Anyway, the total of $459.84 a year may not seem much, but to seniors whose income is dependent on social security, every penny counts. To my knowledge, MSA has been doing this for one year.
CANCEL THE ACCOUNT
When I called on June 1, 2006 to "cancel their account", the representative said, they were shy three days of their cancellation date."
This does not make sense. It is an industry norm to ask a newspaper service or utility company to stop at anytime. They always oblige. How is Magazine Services of America different? They are dishonest.
The representative refused to "close their account", as well as charging them monthly. The company representative insisted on playing a recording of my mother agreeing to the "pre-paid subscription for 3 years. They never did play the recording.
I think they use this tactic to scare people. This is ridiculous. What if my parents passed away? How would a love one "close an account?" Would they continuously charge their account until it closes or until a loved one notices?
CLOSE AND REPOEN YOUR BANK/CREDIT ACCOUNT
This is exactly what occurred. With the help of the bank manager, I closed their checking account and opened a new one. You ought to think about doing this too.
To date, I haven't seen a threatening letter or any kind of new charge on their new checking account. If my mother truly agreed to these magazines and made a commitment, wouldn't they make an effort to keep her so-called monetary commitment? To that end, Magazine Services of America is a sham.
MSA'S CORPORATE IDENTITY
I asked MSA's representative for the company's Secretary of State corporate ID number when I called to "close the account." They refused to give it to me.
In fact, they retrieved my telephone number from their caller ID and called me, a woman from Magazine Services of America cited that she was from their legal department. This is harassment.
I believe the call from the "legal department" is a tactic they use to scare people into continuously charging them a discreet amount, such as $38.32 a month.
I immediately hung-up and went to my computer to file a complaint and find everything on MSA.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
I immediately hung up and sent correspondence via the Internet to the Florida Attorney General's office. You can do this too.
Write your complaint. You will get a response from them.
They will ask you to send them copies of documents, notes, billing records, etc via mail. This will help them build a case.
If you cannot use the Internet, you can call or write:
Office of the Attorney General
PL-01 The Capitol
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050
Telephone: (850) 414-3990
Toll Free within Florida: 1-866-966-7226
MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION COMPANIES
MSA is the second magazine subscription company that has taken advantage of my parents. The first one is located in Colorado. They are called Subscriber's Services.
I went in circles with the Colorado Better Business Bureau (BBB.) They do not have legal authority to retrieve your money, except to act as an arbitrator with the perpetrator. lol!
You have to take your complaint to a higher source and possibly small claims court---and the media.
Believe it or not, Subscriber's Services responded to my complaints to the Colorado BBB. It's out of the BBB hands. I will now have to take them to small claims court to retrieve my parent's funds.
I believe these kinds of companies make it frustrating for anyone. They want you to just put down the phone and accept the monthly charges, especially seniors.
Don't let them do it. You have the power in your state and county to get justice through small claims court and by reporting them to state and county authorities.
Close your bank account/credit card accounts and reopen. You have to follow up. This takes will. Make sure you document everything BEFORE you close your account. How many times did they charge you? This should be on your bank or credit card statments. Don't throw your old bank/credit card statments away when you open a new bank or credit acount
NO WEB SITE?
MSA doesn't have a Web site to date. They prefer to remain in the shadows. Typically, Web sites are communications tools to interact with customers and present corporate information to gain credibility. To that end, MSA chooses to remain hidden and dishonest.
Last words. Don't be intimidated. Build a case. Get your money back from your bank or credit card company. Let them wrangle with MSA. If you can't, build a case against MSA and use small claims court in your county. sorry, allowing you to give a competitors name would instigate others to just file against their competition, to only come back later to suggest their company your comments on this policy are welcome! CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report.
Newport Coast, California
U.S.A. STOP! ..before you think about using the Better Business Bureau (BBB)... CLICK HERE to see how other consumers were victimized by the BBB's false or misleading information. Don't be fooled! It has been reported, when there are thousands of complaints and other investigations underway by authorities, the BBB has no choice but to finally give an UNsatisfactory rating to a BBB member business that is paying the BBB big membership fees every year. When a business is reported that is NOT a BBB member, BBB files WILL more likely show an UNsatisfactory rating, then reportedly shake down that company to become a member of the BBB. One positive thing about the BBB is, either way, if a business has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB, you can be sure, the business is bad. But what about all those BBB member businesses that had complaints filed against them? Consumers never get to hear about them. What about the BBB advertising to the public? Is this a false and misleading perception they are giving about consumer confidence when dealing with a business? Click here to understand more of what consumers and business alike are saying about the BBB. You decide. ..Remember. The BBB membership is not earned, it's paid for!