Report: #167649

Complaint Review: Synapse Connect

  • Submitted: Mon, December 12, 2005
  • Updated: Wed, May 07, 2014
  • Reported By: Boulder Colorado
  • Synapse Connect
    PO Box 30477
    Salt Lake City, Utah

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

When I purchased an Apple iMac les than a year ago, Apple included a registration card for free magazine subscriptions. I filled it out and chose four. Synapse Connect sent me a postcard that looks like a solicitation. I almost threw it out without looking at it. I didn't recognize the company name and it didn't occur to me that I had a business relationship with them.

When I read the fine print that they will automatically renew the subscriptions and charge my credit card unless I called there 1-800 number I was really unhappy. The automatic phone directory is a nightmare. The third time I called I got around it by making a series of unintelligible grunts. The system announced another number to call: 800-601-1958. The automated system came up again, I made more unintelligible grunts. A live operator came on. I was able to communicate a non-renewal on all the subscriptions.

Whether or not they actually stop the subscriptions and NOT charge my credit card remains to be seen.

Apple should be ashamed of associating itself with such a rip-off company that surepticiously steals from people's credit cards. I've never had a magazine or newspaper subscription I did not have to overtly and consciously renew. The post card is tricky. The phone system is disgusting. They maintain a false front PO Box in Salt Lake City, but the folks who answer the phone at 800-601-1958 are in Lewiston, Maine. isn't a registered web site. Google doesn't turn up a web site, just the rip-off reports here.

Honest companies don't behave like this. I hope these morons rot in hell.

Boulder, Colorado

EDitor's Suggestions on how to get your money back!


Go to your bank within 60 days of the charge, or as soon as you know about the charge, don't delay, and tell them that there has been fraudulent activity within your account. Explain that you wish to file a dispute, and demand that they assist you in accordance with Federal Regulation E.

According to the majority of victims interviewed by Rip-off Report, those who immediately called their banks to dispute the charges did not get very far. Many victims got the following responses from their banks: we could not do anything for you or you waited too long; it has been more than 60 days.

If the bank is says that you have waited too long, explain to them how you called their 800 number as soon as the charges were found, and were told by the bank that nothing could be done. Remind the bank that they failed to assist you properly at the 800 #, and instead, provided you with an inadequate explanation of your right to dispute. Tell the bank that it's their fault time has expired, and since they gave you the wrong info to begin with, they will just have to deal with it, take the loss and reverse the charges.

Tell them the truth; this was unauthorized and your account was NOT to be charged! Keep emphasizing how you never authorized anything! Direct them to the hundreds of victims reports that were filed on Rip-off And if you're at the bank, walk them over to their computer and make them go to this site! If you are on the phone with them, tell them you will wait while they access this site! Either way, be persistent!


Let them know nicely, that you were advised to Report them (the Bank) and this situation to the Banking Commission in your state. Since each state has a different name for the agency/controller over banks, find that name before you call or get to the bank so you can throw it in their face. The more knowledgeable you appear to be, the further you will get.

And just continue to demand the Federal Regulation E form! The bank CAN, MUST and WILL reverse the charge! But, you must be persistent; ask to speak to the supervisor or the area manager for all the branches in the state.

Let the bank personnel know you are meeting with the media later in the day, that you would much rather they do the right thing (as most other banks have) by looking at the complaints and immediately reversing the charge(s) to your account; no matter how long ago it was. Be sure to call the Media if necessary so you are telling the truth.

If you have to, be loud (but nice) in front of other customers. If you are just calling by phone, the above tactics should still work. The bank can easily fax or mail to you the Federal Regulation E dispute form.


If the charge was to your credit card (not debit card, check card, or checking account), contact the credit card company as soon as possible to request a dispute form. Consumers usually have a little longer to dispute fraudulent credit card charges (up to 6 months), but it is better to act right away. In this type of situation, credit card disputes are usually successful since fraudulent companies often won't contest the disputed charge. In rare cases, credit card companies will review disputes, but refuse to reverse the charges. If this occurs, complain to a manager and let them know you will be filing a report here.

Remember Don't let them get away with it! Make sure they make the Rip-off Report .. The more Reports filed on a Company or individual, the more likely it is that the authorities, media and attorneys will want to take action.

And good luck Let us know how you do!

ED Magedson Founder, Rip-off & Author of

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/12/2005 11:03 AM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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Updates & Rebuttals


#1 Consumer Comment

Faulty 000 Dialing

AUTHOR: cest moi - (USA)

This isn't a rebuttal as such.  I'm addresing what was written about phoning SynapseConnect, Inc.

I read a few customer complaints about SynapseConnect, Inc. Included was a comment that provided a toll-free phone number and the instruction to dial "000" at the beginning of the recording, which would connect the caller to a human being. The person providing that information apparently had success with this procedure.

I called the toll-free number and selected 000 when the recording started.  I wasn't connected to a human being, and the recording continued.  I tried this three times and got the same result each time.

Now I'll call another number and just grunt in response to any questions.

Color me extrememly irritated with this company!!!!!  I will never order another magazine from a third party again!!!!!


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#2 Consumer Comment

Not an ignorant consumer

AUTHOR: clvertin - ()

It has been suggested by a few consumers on here that this company is not fraudgulent, but in fact these charges are the result of ignorant consumers.  Oh I beg to differ! This is the second attempt to by this company to aquire funds from my account in less than two weeks time.  I have not applied, received, or signed up for any "free" magazine subscriptions so it is very unlikely that I fall into the category of an "ignorant consumer".  The first time I seen this type of charge I immediately called my bank and questioned the transaction, and they gave me the name and also a contact number, according to the charge.  The phone number led me to "", which is a site to sign up for local marathons in your area.  I did use this service to sign up my husband and daughter for a marathon, but no magazines were included in this, only a marathon.  When I called "" they stated that this was not a charge from them directly, but another affiliate regarding magazine subscriptions, and gave me their number.  When I spoke with this company they stated it was indeed for a magazine subscription that we never received or requested, and when I asked how on earth they had gotten our information the women kept redirecting the conversation to not answer that question.  Good news is that the charge was credited back to our account, but not even a week later I wake up to a text alert from my bank asking if I made this charge transaction this morning, which was impossible as myself and my husband were both sleeping.  Good news here is that my bank is amazing and took fraud precautions before I even rubbed my eyes.  They put a temporary hold on my debit card, declined the charge, and ordered a new card with expedited service to receive quickly.  Not to say that some people may actually sign up for this service and just ignore the notices that are sent, or not sent, to them, but it is an irresponsible comment from another consumer to say that everyone is an "ignorant consumer" regarding this company.  No "sir" we are not all "ignorant consumer's", and fraud happens ever second all around the world.  Hackers are getting access to larger corporations that hold all of our personal information, which is scary.  My advice to anyone on here is check your checking or savings accounts several times a day if you can, and question unfamilar transactions.  Your bank will work with you if you don't recognize a transaction, and it may be a legitamite charge you made, but the company name is not one that is familar.  Question, question, question!

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#3 Consumer Comment

Relatively easy to cancel

AUTHOR: BobinMass - ()

First of all, it would be much easier if they had a web presence instead of making you call.  But after almost throwing away two post cards with info on four subscriptions, I called immediately.  The voice guided menu is quite easy.  I renewed two magazines after the hilarious "Great News".  Bon Appetit for $2 for six months, and Maxim for $2 for ten months. Not bad since I like both and they were going to renew at $20 and $19 respectively.  Over all not a horrible experience.

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#4 Consumer Suggestion

How To Handle Synapse Connect


I agree that unless you are VERY careful, Synapse Connect's business is designed to trick consumers into paying for very high priced magazine renewals after a trial period. They bet the consumer will forget to cancel the renewal or not bother to fight a credit card charge if it happens down the road.

I am well aware of this company's game and this is how I handle them:

1. I use my credit card company's "single use account numbers" when dealing with them. They normally expire long before the trial period ends so this company CAN'T charge me for a sneaky renewal fee.

2. When I get the postcards in the mail about the upcoming renewals (they do send them) I do NOT ignore them or toss them aside as junk mail. They are a call to action. Their phone system is designed to frustrate, take alot of time and make you jump through hoops to cancel.  They hope you will not notice the post cards (which have a lot of small print you need to read or you won't realize they are NOT a pitch for magazines but a warning your card is about to be charged. 

However, you CAN cancel and CAN enjoy a year of a magazine that would cost you up to $50 for $2.  It's making sure you watch your credit card and making sure you stop the renewals.  Yes, it takes a little time but less than the savings you can enjoy if you make Synapse work for you.


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#5 Consumer Comment

No Fraud, No Ripoffs, Just Irresponsible Consumers

AUTHOR: Frank - ()

Let me begin by saying I'm not affiliated with Synapse Connect in any way. I'm not employed by them, I don't know anyone who works there, and I have absolutely ZERO connection--personal or professional--to this company. I'm just an ordinary customer. The only reason I'm taking the time to write this comment is because it bothers me to see a bunch of ignorant consumers crying "rip off" instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.

 With that out of the way, here's a summary of my experience with Synapse...

 About a year ago, I completed an online survey and was subsequently presented with one of Synapse's free magazine subscription offers. The offer was for 4 free 12-month subscriptions; all I had to pay was $2 per subscription (for a processing fee or something). Basically what it boiled down to was this: for 8 bucks, I could get about $200 worth of magazines. It sounded too good to be true--which is another way of saying it smelled like a scam--so I proceeded with extreme caution. Not only did I read all the fine print, but I also took screen captures of everything as I went through each step of the sign-up process (in case I got scammed, I'd have something to prove it). As I progressed through the sign-up process, it was made very clear that this was a trial offer and that after 12 months I would be automatically billed at the regular price UNLESS I CANCELED FIRST.

 So there WAS a string attached. The string was: if I didn't cancel these subscriptions after the first year, then I'd be charged full price for the second year. (For me, the second year would have been $142.) But let me reiterate: this part of the deal was clearly communicated. For me, personally, I was willing to take that bet--the bet that I'd remember to cancel after the first year. I completed the sign-up process and then--as an extra measure of caution (or paranoia)--I set a reminder on my phone for the following year...just in case they never sent the renewal notice.

 Ultimately, there was no need for my reminder, because Synapse sent me the renewal notice as promised. The notice is slightly larger than a postcard, and it's very easy to overlook or mistake for a generic advertisement. On the other hand, it's certainly not disguised in any way. It even says "Please keep this notice as a reminder for upcoming charges." It also clearly states the deadline by which I must call to avoid automatic renewal, and it shows how much I'll be charged if I miss that deadline. It's all pretty straightforward, really.

 I called the number provided, navigated through the automated menu system, and successfully canceled all 4 of my subscriptions. Was it intuitive? No. The options you must select from definitely border on "trick question" territory. For example, the robo-woman might ask you something like this:

 "If you renew your subscription, we will refund the processing fee you already paid. Would you like us to refund your processing fee?"

 If you're not paying attention, you might say yes. Then they'll charge you full price for another year, less the $2 processing fee.

 Despite the long, treacherous, annoying path I had to follow to get to my destination (Cancelvania), the fact is I was able to cancel all 4 subscriptions--without ever having to speak to a real person--in just under 12 minutes.

 At the end of the day...I got 4 magazines for a year, and all it cost me was $8 and a 12-minute phone call.

 So here's my advice to anyone reading this who's trying to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on one of these free subscription offers:

 If you have a habit of entering your credit card information into online forms, without bothering to read or understand the details about what it is you're actually buying; or if you have a history of throwing away your mail without reading it; or if you're easily confused by touchtone phones and/or the English language...then you should avoid Synapse's offers.

 If you know how to read, you're willing to make a quick phone call, and you'd like to receive a bunch of magazines for about 17 cents per issue...then Synapse Connect is just what you're looking for.

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#6 Consumer Comment

Synapse Continues Fraud!

AUTHOR: Sabine - ()

 I was enticed into a $2 subscription without any knowledge my credit card would be billed automatically at much higher rates in the future for magazines I NEVER wanted except for the one 1 to try out. Next I have a FLOOD of unauthorized magazines cluttering my home with no time to even look at them. Big waste of paper and completely cheating me by billing my credit card! The card company had a phone number and NOTHING ELSE that I could contact to cancel my subscriptions. Well, I just received a notice by mail from Synapse Connect 877-340-6783 to cancel my subscription; the magazine was Bloomberg Businessweek (which I like but have NO time to read and don't remember ever ordering).

The voice recording from Synapse tells me my subscription is renewed??!! WHEN the whole time I was repeating verbally I needed to cancel. This COMPLETE SCAM where no human but an imbecilic recording machine does the complete opposite of what I needed done!! I don't understand - why can't this company be forced to process my information correctly and inform me that they will automatically bill me by stealing my credit card information for a so called "free subscription and $2 handling fee"?? Where are the magazine editors in stopping this fraud from continuing. Has a Consumer Fraud Division Officer called this 877# to experience the ludicrous difficulty in the fraudulent "cancellation" voicemail process set up by Synapse Connect - it doesn't work - not 5 minutes ago! How can you Stop this wrongful conduct?

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#7 Consumer Comment

Trying "0" "0" didn't work

AUTHOR: Geoff Thompson - (United States of America)

I received a post card in the mail saying my subscriptions would be renewed automatically.  I am happy with my subscriptions but do not want them renewed.  I called their toll-free number.  There is only an option to cancel a subscription (which I don't want to do) or nothing.  There is no option to cancel renewal.  Pam's post suggested that keying in 0,0 at the first prompt would get me to a live operator.  I tried this, it only got me an automated response that this was "not a valid option".
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#8 Consumer Comment

No problems with Synapse

AUTHOR: pjm718 - (United States of America)

I have subscribed to many magazines through this service, at little or no cost per subscription.  If you follow the correct procedure, it is extremely easy to cancel any subscriptions.  Even if you miss the deadline, you can call and talk to an employee who will then cancel and refund the remainder to your credit card.  I would recommend this service to anyone - no problems.  As with anything, you have to follow the correct steps, which are not difficult.
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#9 Consumer Comment

I had 4 subscriptions and was able to cancel all via automated system

AUTHOR: BlueWaterSeaBirds - (United States of America)

I have to disagree that this is a ripoff company.  I was able to cancel the four subscriptions I had using only the automated system.  I often prefer an automated system for things like this because I dreaded the idea that a human being would try to pressure me or keep me on the phone forever until I agreed to renew.  It's true the autmated "woman" did offer me a discounted renewal if I would still renew, and when that didn't work, a free gift, I was able to cancel.  It took a while to get through the menu but just gran your favorite beverage when you have a few minutes and make the call.

Or, put it on speaker phone and laugh with your friend(s) when she keeps saying, "Great News!!! WE can offer you a new discounted, etc...."  Seriously though, it was ok.

It IS true that the company might hope that you don't get around to cancelling and that you just continue with the subscription but YOU CAN CANCEL.  I am not an employee I just thought I'd write because this particular company isn't really a ripoff by my definition.
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#10 General Comment

Fake Rebuttals

AUTHOR: GRECO - (United States of America)

I was an employee of Time, Inc, which is the parent company of SynapseConncect, Inc.  One of my jobs was to write fake positive counters to any negative complaints posted on line.  This comment is bought and paid for. 
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#11 Consumer Comment

Never a problem.

AUTHOR: Richard - (U.S.A.)

I was really surprised to see this article. I've been getting free magazines from SynapseConnect for several years now and have never had a single problem. As mentioned in the article the cards come after a few months. if you are so cavalier as to toss mail without checking it then you probably deserve what you get. after the first time I knew what to expect and anticipate the cards with the date to call by in order to prevent subscriptions from being renewed. on that subject they state that is exactly what will happen when you are making the selectoins and filling in your credit card info. So long as you call by the date indicated on the card there is no problem. And in fact, I did miss calling in to cancel a magazine once. I called their Customer Service number and after explaining the situation had the charges imediately reversed. So I really don't understand the problems being reported on your site since it has never happened to me. And I can't be the only one or they would have been out of business long ago. I am not and have never been an employee or affiliated in any way with them other than to be the recipient of as many as 8 magazines per year. I get the offer after completing a customer satisfaction survery with BizRate. I believe the problems others have had are due to their own negligence and inability or unwillingness to keep track of their magazine orders.
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#12 Consumer Comment

Synapse has got better recently

AUTHOR: Mike - (U.S.A.)

I forgot to cancel 5 subscriptions by the due date and I called a salesperson and they gave me a full refund for the charges. They even extended my free-trials for 3 more months for only $2. I guess it depends on who you talk to over the phone. To get directly to real person call (800) 601-1958 and press "000*" when the recording starts
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#13 UPDATE Employee

People need to read

AUTHOR: Pam - (U.S.A.)

I work for the Synapse Group Inc. and I hear all the time how people don't remember accepting a subscription to the magazines and 95% of the time when I review the info in front of me they remember. And after even more prodding they remember seeing the brochure provided to them with the terms and conditions but low and behold did they at the time of receiving that information take the time to read noooo

I hate it when people call and say that they are being scammed when all along they did not take the time to read the terms and conditions provided to them and also after further prodding they remember seeing the postcard but they just threw it away. I understand that life is hectic and busy but please do not call a company names like scam artists or shady just because you did not take the time to read something.

I have read a lot of the postings on this site and one issue came up about subscriptions not being filled. we at synapse do not handle that part. please blame the publishers not us. we give all information we have to the publishers and oh yes there is one other entity that is involved. how about the post office. we can not control what goes on there either. I do know that if you move and do not inform the publishers or synapse the post office will not forward magazines.

And as far as refunds are concerned when a refund is asked for it is given. it can not be automatic due to the fact that the request goes from the automated system or the call center employee to the department that handles refunds. from there it goes to the bank or credit card company that the money was debited from and that does take time.

I saw one posting in here about how someone was complaining about synapse being shady not upfront. as far as the refund goes well we will give a full refund if you ask for it even if you did receive part of your subscription and we have to pay the publishers for those. so who is losing out we at synapse are.

Here is a question to those of you who are complaining about how we do business: what company do you know that is still in business that just gives it's products away? is it wrong for synapse to want to make money? If I am sounding defensive well I am sick of people complaining that we are scamming when all we are trying to do is vend magazines.

Oh yes another complaint is the automated system I understand that it is hard to get through but if you press 0 twice at the first prompting you will be rerouted to a live agent but please be patient because there may be a high call volume at the time you call and from what I know right now the maximum amount of agents we have is at at 50 or so employees between 2 call centers.

The one thing I am trying to get across on behalf of the live agents is that we are human beings too just like you and we do not need someone shouting at us swearing at us calling us names because of someone else's mistake no matter whose mistake it is. We agents are taken through a 2 week training course before we get on the phones and trained as much as can be. Another thing I am asking is that the live agents you talk to are not given very much information for legal and privacy reasons so if the agent your talking to tells you that they do not see or have access to the info that you want then they are telling you the truth.

If a live agent tells you that the subscription is canceled then yes it has been like the other live agent posted we would be fired all calls are recorded so there is a record of all calls. One thing to make sure of when you call is: ask if you have any more subscriptions, and also remember that synapse makes money by having active subscriptions so when the live agent is trying to give you other options to keep the magazine subscription active they are just doing their job. And yes you have to pay attention to what the agent is saying when a subscription is being canceled it is our job to try to keep the subscriptions active if possible so when the live agent is reading a script please pay attention and listen to what they are saying. Because I am a single mom of 2 I am not going to put my job in jeopardy by giving out certain things but just remember that when calling in to cancel you need to listen to the agent on the phone.

Thank you on behalf of Synapse and it's live agents for reading this and I hope I could shed some light on some things.
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#14 Consumer Comment

Sneaky, but not a rip-off

AUTHOR: Alexander - (U.S.A.)

I've used the $2 trial subscriptions for several years now, and tried about half a dosen magazines, some more than once. This offer was being presented to me as a reward for completing a survey on BizRate, so I have no qualms about taking advantage of it even knowing that I have no intention on continuing the subscription. Their business model is their worry - not mine, I look after my own interest.

Now, in all these years I have not had a problem cancelling a subscription. I was apprehensive in the beginning, and prepared to be forced to jump through the hoops, but none of that happened. I get the card, I call (no waiting at all), answer the questions (I have an accent, and sometimes have to repeat twice, that's a bit of a drag), make sure I write down the confirmation, and then I don't get charged.

Possible problems may arise if:
- you missed the card or threw it away. Recently I got charged for a National Geographic this way. No problem: I called the number, aswered the questions (not even having my subscriber id), and got FULL a refund within a week.

- you answer "yes" when they ask if you want to receive the remainder of your subscription. In that case your cancellaton doesn't get preocessed, and you have to call again at the end of your subscription. Sneaky?
Perhaps...still doesn't quite qualify for a rip-off. After all, you are the one getting a pefectly good subscription practically for free!
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#15 UPDATE Employee


AUTHOR: Carrie - (U.S.A.)

What you say about the supposed "false front" to salt lake city isn't true. That's where new orders are processed. Call centers for the company, however, are in various states like Maine, Florida, and New York. Not every part of the company is in the same state, and you'll find it's like that with most companies.

Also, if the agent told you that your magazines were cancelled, then your magazines are cancelled. Employees would get fired if they were lying to the customers, for obvious reasons.
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#16 Consumer Comment

Good experiences with Synapse Connect

AUTHOR: Karen - (U.S.A.)

I have gotten free subscriptions to 10 different magazines through Synapse Connect over the last five years and have never had any problem cancelling the subscriptions using the automated system. My credit card has never been charged. I think it is a great way to try magazines without having to pay. I'm very careful to notice the card and cancel on time.
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#17 Consumer Comment

Good experiences with Synapse Connect

AUTHOR: Karen - (U.S.A.)

I have gotten free subscriptions to 10 different magazines through Synapse Connect over the last five years and have never had any problem cancelling the subscriptions using the automated system. My credit card has never been charged. I think it is a great way to try magazines without having to pay. I'm very careful to notice the card and cancel on time.
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#18 Consumer Comment

Good experiences with Synapse Connect

AUTHOR: Karen - (U.S.A.)

I have gotten free subscriptions to 10 different magazines through Synapse Connect over the last five years and have never had any problem cancelling the subscriptions using the automated system. My credit card has never been charged. I think it is a great way to try magazines without having to pay. I'm very careful to notice the card and cancel on time.
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#19 Consumer Comment

Good experiences with Synapse Connect

AUTHOR: Karen - (U.S.A.)

I have gotten free subscriptions to 10 different magazines through Synapse Connect over the last five years and have never had any problem cancelling the subscriptions using the automated system. My credit card has never been charged. I think it is a great way to try magazines without having to pay. I'm very careful to notice the card and cancel on time.
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