Monday, March 19, 2007

Salvo Magazine Update

You may recall the review of the premier issue of Salvo. I had obtained the issue without charge by sending in a complimentary issue card.

When I notified the publication's editors about the review, I offered to review the second issue, though I pointed out that I wasn't about to plunk down my own hard-earned cash after such an unimpressive first issue.

Last week I got a notice from the Salvo circulation department demanding payment for my subscription to the publication. I never asked to subscribe! This is the second or third such notice I've received.

My evaluation of the magazine was mixed, but my evaluation of its business practices is decidedly sour. What a shame that a group of well-intentioned people who are obviously trying to promote a culture that values people are so thoughtless!


Geoff Battersby said...

Prof. Gage:
Perhaps you have forgotten what was on the "complimentary issue card" that you sent in for Salvo.

Here is the actual text: "Yes! Send me the premier issue of Salvo for free and with no further obligation (I SEND NO MONEY NOW). If I decide that Salvo isn't for me, I can simply write "cancel" on my first bill and send it back. I will owe nothing, and the first issue is mine to keep. Otherwise, I'll send $18 for 4 more issues (a total of 5 in all) and save 65% off the single-copy rate."

Since we received neither payment nor a "cancel" notice from you, we've continued to send invoices. We've sent you a free issue and then asked you to decide whether or not you'd like to continue receiving Salvo. You are not obligated to continue the subscription, but please don't mischaracterize our business practices as "thoughtless."

Kind regards,

Geoff Battersby
Marketing Director

Lawrence Gage said...

Dear Mr. Battersby,

Thanks for your reply.

Actually, I thought it noteworthy that the free-issue card (at least the one I received) did NOT include a clause about signing up for a tacit subscription. I dislike signing up for things that I'm obliged to cancel later.

But it is entirely possible I missed the fine print. If that is the case, I apologize for the spurious label.

Best wishes for building up Salvo.


CrimsonCatholic said...

I'm actually MORE convinced that the business practices are "thoughtless" based on the language that Mr. Battersby quoted. They should have made "no further obligation" conditional on sending the cancelled bill back. As it is, they can keep sending invoices from now until doomsday, but since you aren't obligated to do anything with them, you have no incentive to ever tell them that you don't want the magazine. I do think it's a bit disingenuous to say that you aren't obligated to "continue your subscription." Technically, you don't HAVE a subscription, and because of their language, you don't even have to tell them whether you WANT a subscription.

My advice for Mr. Battersby: Run it by legal next time, and if you ran it by legal already, run it by a better lawyer. "No further obligation" should have been conditional on returning a cancelled bill. And it might have saved you a bad review by Prof. Gage! :)

Lawrence Gage said...


Good point! "no further obligation" and "write 'cancel' on my first bill and send it back" are incompatible. It sounds like "no further FINANCIAL obligation" would have been closer to their intentions.