Don't renew that magazine subscription until you know when it expires

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Safe Haven Realty CalBRE# 01433049

This may seem like a trivial matter, but it has had me fuming in the past and it happened again last weekend. Magazine companies will send you a renewal WAY before your subscription expires and if you aren't paying attention, you will be paying far in advance for future issues.

I have an 81 year old mother-in-law who lives 170 miles away. Every month we visit her to make sure she is really OK and to sort through her mail that she saves for us. This past weekend I found a bill for a magazine that was asking for payment for a one year renewal. What wasn't included on the renewal notice (by design) is the current expiration date of her subscription.



I asked my mother-in-law for the latest issue of her magazine and looked at the mailing label. The current expiration date for her subscription is FEB 2013, yet the company is telling her she owes money and it is due at the end of this month!!

Yes, I'm pissed mad as hell heck. I have already contacted the company asking why they are preying on senior citizens by demanding payment for a renewal that wouldn't start for almost two years.

It isn't just seniors that are being taken for a ride, look at your magazines and check for your current expiration dates on the mailing label, usually in the MMMYY format. (See one of my labels above with an expiration date of MAY 2013).

When you get a renewal notice for a magazine that doesn't expire for at LEAST 6 months ... toss it. You'll be getting another one soon after ... you can be sure of that.



Posted by

Safe Haven Realty

Cynthia Larsen (707-332-2560) is an independent broker and owner of Safe Haven Realty in Sonoma County, California. Visit to view available homes for sale and to learn more about this beautiful wine country destination.

CA Broker License #01433049




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Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Keller Williams Realty - Redlands, CA
(909) 557-6966, GREEN, SFR, CHS-Redlands/Loma Lind

I have had this happen to me. You sign up and then about 3 months later you start getting renewals in the mail. Then they offer you 2 extra months if you sign up now. I recalled that was the original deal get 14 months for 12. Interesting enough, but my label only gives me credit for 12. HUM!!! So when this subscription expired, I didn't renew it. I read somewhere that the companies try to get you to sign up immediately when you are still enjoying the magazine because after 1 year, most readers don't renew. Makes sense.

Jun 22, 2011 11:20 AM #4
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

I stopped subscribing to magazines and instead take a break at the local bookstore to enjoy a quick read.  Seems like they are more ads than articles and you can usually read half for free on-line.  This belongs on one of the "give me a break" shows that points out how desperate publishers are to scam everyone into thinking they need to pay up now!

Jun 22, 2011 11:30 AM #5
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Gita - I had a company send me a renewal notice shortly after I had paid for a 5 year renewal. These magazine companies will take your money as long as they give it. There should be a law that the current expiration date be placed on the renewal notice in BOLD RED PRINT.

Sonja - it IS stealing, especially when our seniors may not live long enough to receive what they pay for! And yes, my m-i-l is a very lucky woman :)

Amy - I only have one subscription ... a cooking magazine to give me new ideas for dinner. I love to cook and get bored easily if I don't have something new to try.

Kristin - this renewal wanted my m-i-l to pay for a 1 year renewal AND to save even more by adding another 22 weeks to it (this is a weekly magazine). If she had paid this with the extra 22 weeks, her subscription would have been extended to July 2014. And then she would have received another renewal in a few months. I'm putting a stop to it.

Cindy - my m-i-l has had this subscription for so long she can't live without it. I'm surprised it is still in existence with the availability of *hint* finding out what will be on TV by pulling up the online guide. And yes, everyone should be on the look-out for this bad business practice, especially with our seniors who are easily scammed.

Jun 22, 2011 11:34 AM #6
Tish Lloyd
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Wilmington, NC
Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches

Makes my blood boil too, Cynthia.  Nice catch on your part and a post more should see. 

Jun 22, 2011 12:39 PM #7
Donna Quinlan
Keller Williams Realty - Newburyport, MA
Keller Williams Real Estate Agent Career Consultan

I have had this happen to me. My thought was if I just renewed I would not keep getting notices, but they still seem to come. Your mother-in-law is lucky to have you around. I can imaging how confusing it can be for seniors.

Jun 22, 2011 01:23 PM #8
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Tish - I am a HUGE advocate for senior citizens and it infuriates me to see the tactics that some businesses choose to utilize to bilk money out of them. It's downright shameful.

Donna - it happened to me too, I looked at my check register to see when I paid last, then finally learned how to determine the expiration date by looking at the label. Many seniors are confused, my m-i-l included who has a touch of dementia. I'm sure any magazine would allow her to pay 10 years past her expected lifetime if they could get away with it.


Jun 22, 2011 01:47 PM #9
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

While I agree it's insane, please let's NOT pass another law. We have tons too many already.   But I finally just stopped all but one magazine because I don''t have time to read them anyway.  Too busy reading blogs on AR.

Jun 22, 2011 03:06 PM #10
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Yipes.  I kinda knew they were bad about that, because of how many renew now letters I get.  I've got way more than I can read as it is.  AR has consumed all the time that I used to spend reading the magazines :)

Jun 22, 2011 04:11 PM #11
Rodney Mason
On Q Financial - Atlanta, GA
FHA 203(k) & HomeStyle Renovation-AL,FL,GA,TN

I see that all of the time too.  I only subscribe to a couple of things now, but it does seem like they always send out the renewal notices many months in advance of the expiration date.

Jun 22, 2011 04:26 PM #12
John M. Scott
BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties - San Francisco, CA
Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area

Cynthia, I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines. But I was finding that I rarely read them.  Nowadays, if I want to find something I just look online. I even prefer reading stories and books online. I can adjust the type size! ;)

Good thing your mother in law has you to look after her!

Jun 22, 2011 04:40 PM #13
Maya Swamy
Funds Available - Long Beach, CA
Ph.D. Long Beach, CA -

I do read and subscribe to several magazines and get renewal notices just as you described. I wait for the one which saysm "This is your last issue." before I renew. The magazines may want working capital but so do I.

Jun 22, 2011 04:48 PM #14
Karen Hawkins, MBA - Langley & Surrey, BC
Royal Pro Real Estate Network - Langley, BC

Hi Cynthia - ooooh, that's cheap tactics!  Thank goodness you were there to look out for your mother's interests...makes you not want to get the subscriptions ever again (I'll just have to read the 2 year old copies in my doctor's office!) :-)

Jun 22, 2011 07:55 PM #15
Cindy Marchant
Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 - Carmel, IN
"Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate

and I think what's worse is all the "want your money" type advertisements that go to seniors...I think they lose their sense of reasoning a bit as they/we least in my mom I can see it.  And that is just plain scary...

Jun 23, 2011 01:07 AM #16
Malcolm Johnston
Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario - Trenton, ON
Trenton Real Estate

Cynthia, I'm exactly the type of person who would fall for a ploy like that, as I admittedly rarely check the fine print on things like that. I bet less than scrupulous companies make millions from me and my ilk.

Jun 23, 2011 04:18 AM #17
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

This is such a pet peeve of mine Cynthia. It usually takes about two months and you get a postcard that your subscription is about to expire.

The new scam is the auto re-subscribe where they say you opted for this program and they want your credit card information. When the magazine uses this tactic, I will never subscribe or answer them again. I have seen this box on the screen when subscribing and never check it. And I go back and double check that it hasn't been marked before I push submit.

Like I said pet peeve...



Jun 23, 2011 05:33 AM #18
John Cannata
214-728-0449 - Frisco, TX
Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance

Hmmm... thats a good tip. Haven't really though much about it. I know that Go Daddy likes to send out reminders about 4-5 months before my sites are up for renewal, but to ask for a payment over 1 year (almost 2 years) away is a bit over the top.

Jun 23, 2011 06:16 AM #19
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Tammy - Yes, we have too many laws already, but I really do think the expiration date should be required on renewal notices, our seniors are getting scammed.

BLiz - I only get one magazine, I don't even have time to read Realtor Magazine half the time.

Rodney - the magazines want us to front them money, and what happens if they go out of business?

John - adjusting the font size is a huge plus. Magazines will go out of business one of these days.

Maya - you are a smart cookie!

Karen - yes, I have a real hard time subscribing to any magazine. I just broke down and ordered Bon Appetit for some new recipes.

Cindy - yes it is scary ... my mother-in-law gets a lot of offers in the mail for pure junk. Just the other day a sales rep put door hangers on all of the doors in the senior complex for a cell phone promotion. Seniors are targets in more ways than one.

Malcolm - really now!!

Paul - I haven't seen that one before, I'll be on the lookout for it.

John - yes it is over the top. I'm still steaming about it.


Jun 23, 2011 06:16 AM #20
Melinda (Mel) Peterson
Real Estate Cafe LLC - Bend, OR
Curator of Happy Endings

Cynthia ~ I would be pissed mad as hell heck too! 

Jun 23, 2011 06:26 AM #21
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Melinda - LOL, you know exactly how I feel :)

Jun 23, 2011 07:20 AM #22
Ed Gillespie
Rocklin, CA

I'm really glad you brought this practice to light because it benefits everyone.  suggest

My wife gets a few of these related to memberships at it makes her mad, too!

Jun 23, 2011 02:21 PM #23
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