Thursday, March 22, 2007

negative option

When I bought my Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas book, I was pleased to find a tear-out card in the back. "Return the attached card for a FREE ISSUE..." (their emphasis). I would enjoy a complimentary issue of their astronomy magazine. I could test-drive it. Who knows? It might be something I want to get.

I knew, sending this in, I was putting myself in a negative option scenario. I had a hunch that they'd try to strong-arm me into a subscription. When the invoice appeared in the mail (before the magazine itself), my suspicions were confirmed.

Finally, the April issue of Sky & Telescope appeared. While I enjoyed reading it, it was clear that I would get the same information from my new Sky News magazine subscription (even though bimonthly).

So, on March 8, I emailed the customer service department, using the noted address on the invoice, telling them "Thanks but no thanks."

Immediately, the email bounced!

Sneaky buggers. They had employed their first trick or hurdle in the negative option ploy: thwart attempts to contact them.

So, I immediately telephoned the 1-800 number (fully expecting it to not work across the border). I talked to a pleasant woman and explained I did not want to start up a new subscription. She acknowledged this, said OK, and did not lay a guilt trip on me. Wow. I was impressed. I also explained the email problem which she said she would forward to the appropriate people. It all sounded genuine to me.

Today, another invoice showed up (sans email address).

Here we go...

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