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theNRSscam blog was created to provide general magazine subscription scam information, consumer protection resources, specific information about National Readers Service, and suggestions for dealing with magazine subscription scams.

If you have found any company's business practices to be deceptive or fraudulent, I strongly encourage you to contact your local consumer protection office and file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and Attorneys General. Feel free to link this site to any relevant discussion you encounter, help me keep my promise, and make the ability to keep doing this type of business more difficult!!

Thanks for visiting, D/

Check out who else is checking out National Readers Service:

> December 24, 2009: Pennsylvania Attorney General opens file on National Readers Service, Pittsburgh, PA

>NRS, Pittsburgh responds to the Attorney General
> December 30, 2009: Kansas Attorney General demands trial by jury against Publisher’s Renewal Service d/b/a National Readers Service, and Treasure Coast Renewals, et al. Check out the court documents at courthousenews.com

Check out something interesting:

> Rip Off Report complaint about International Marketing Association (a.k.a., National Readers Service, et al) .


What I didn't teach my kid...

OK, last week I didn't know anything about National Readers Service. After dealing with these people on my daughter's behalf, that's certainly no longer the case. At this point, National Readers Service has verbally agreed to close her account with no balance, no bills or calls in the future, any additional magazines received after this cancellation are her gift at no charge, and her payment to date will be refunded. Whether or not that agreement is honored, we will see over time. I hope our "experiences" with this company and some of what I've learned can be helpful to someone else.

My Reaction:
Honestly, this blew me out of the water. I spent the last years of my mother’s life worried she would fall into something like this that she didn’t want, couldn’t afford, and couldn’t get out of. But you know what? My mother was a sharp old bird. She knew a deal when she saw it and a scam when she heard it.

I have no doubt she would have cut them off in the chit chat, before the “survey”, and long before the “fabulous magazine offer” that hooked my kid. She would have known their name and who they were calling for. They’d have known she was on the “Do Not Call list”, they better have enough sense to never call her again because now they’re on “Her List”, and left them sitting (in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Virginia, California, or wherever in the heck these people are actually sitting) listening to the dial tone. I was angry at my kid for falling for this; she is too smart. But I was even angrier at myself for not making sure she was too smart to fall for this!!

I spent the majority of a morning trying to figure out who these people are, the best way to handle them, and the most of the afternoon carrying it out. (FYI: There are numerous consumer complaints in multiple categories and scam alerts for each company mentioned with so many overlapping names and addresses it is essentially impossible to sort out. Other National Readers Service complaints are here.)

I contacted the Federal Trade Commission (Surprisingly, I talked to a real person with a less than 5 minutes phone wait!!), the Better Business Bureau, the Consumer Affairs Division under the Attorney General’s office in my home state (Also spoke to a real person there. He returned my voicemail message in under an hour and was extremely helpful!), and my daughter’s bank. How I specifically handled National Readers Service follows...

  • Gather all physical documents. Make detailed timeline of interactions with this company.
  • Get the cover prices and subscription prices for ordered magazines. Easily found at the newsstand or on sites such as: magazines.com (this is not an endorsement for this particular company/ just an example for researching price comparisons). Do the math; know what you have bought. (You will not be happy, but you will be motivated. Note: yearly cover prices on-line may be inaccurate/ the prices listed aren't necessarily updated with price changes.)
  • Decide what agreement you plan to reach with this company: cancel account, refund payments, etc. Write it down.
  • Use these documents when you talk to them. (You can bet they have a script as well!)
Things to keep in mind about scams, in general, and National Readers Service, in particular, before contacting them:
  • This company is a scam. Everyone’s job at this company is to get you hooked in and then do whatever necessary to keep an “account” open. Losing your temper with them will not change their job, but it may distract you enough to make their job easier. We are not the first (or last) person they will scam, nor will this be the last chance some other company has to scam us.
  • These people know the law and intend to barely stay in it. This “business” may have dismal Better Business Bureau ratings, know it, and not really care. You don’t know that when they sell to you unsolicited. They do prefer, however, to stay under the radar of official consumer affairs inquiries with the Federal Trade Commission or Attorneys General.
  • While the Federal Trade Commission does not intervene on the behalf of individual consumers, complaints filed against this company's business practices may show a pattern of violations that will trigger investigations. (There IS a pattern, but only if we REPORT IT!!! Complaints can be filed VERY easily by telephone at 1-877-FTC-HELP.)
Suggestions for contacting NRS (and details of mine):

Contact National Readers Service. ( I called through the phone number from the order notice. Expect a LONG wait- my long-distance call was over 1 hour 20 minutes.) Note: As an alternative to contacting them by phone you could send written notification(s) following the same suggestions below. Keep copies for your records and send any notifications by certified mail with return receipt request.

Ask to speak to a Customer Service manager. (Ours was “Roberta”- no employee ID- just the only “Roberta”?!)
  • Take notes. Write everything down: names, dates, conversation details.Verify account details.
  • Inform them of your specific issue with their inappropriate business practices such as fraudulent solicitation, inability to cancel order, billing practices, debt collection, etc. and attempt to get them to resolve the issue(s) to your satisfaction.
  • Inform them of your next course of action. (I’m sure there are more possibilities, but a list is included in "Suggestions for dealing with a magazine subscriptions scam"  that may be helpful. To avoid any confusion about my intentions I asked “Roberta” to take notes for this part. LOL)
During this process expect several interruptions such as reminders of the “uniqueness” of this fabulous magazine subscription- evidently I was supposed to be excited that you can change your titles every month with this plan. (Really?? If I'm paying $1297.32 every five years for magazines I could subscribe to the "newsstand plan". There I can change my titles AND no hassles about cancelling as an added bonus! LOL). You will get offers of an identically bad or worse “settlement” or “payment plan”, as well as, reminders of the fact they have a legally binding contract that cannot be cancelled. (Just following their script, I’m sure, I just kept following mine.)

You may be transferred to that customer service manager’s "supervisor" (“Roberta” handed me off to “Summer”- also no ID and also the only “Summer”- just as I mentioned the Better Business Bureau.) If you are lucky they will close your account before you get through the entire list of your plan. (I decided to start back at the beginning in case “Roberta” wasn’t a good note taker, and I was in the middle of mentioning the Attorneys General when “Summer” decided they could close the account and refund the $68.28 after all!!) Now if you’re really lucky they will actually abide by their agreement and leave you alone! If not, continue following through on your course of action. Hopefully, an acceptable resolution will be reached in a short time.
  • Ask them to specifically re-state the agreed resolution and send verification to you (in writing) within 10 business days. Be sure to address at least the items below. You may also send them your own written notifications of all agreements. Keep a copy and send certified mail with return receipt request.
If the account is closed:
  • The account is paid in full, there are no additional accounts that you are unaware of, no bills will be sent, nor will any telephone contact be made in the future.
  • If any additional magazines are received they are your gift to keep with no expected payment.
  • Any specific details of expected refund (if any).
If the account is not closed:
  • Complete terms of the agreement- magazine subscriptions to be received (specific titles and number of months), amount and number of payments, total remaining balance to be paid, and specific request of no automatic renewal.
  • The specifically agreed upon payment method-  (The Consumer Affairs office in my state  recommended against trying to just cut them off and not pay as my daughter had made a verbal agreement with them. The legality of verbal contracts evidently varies by state. Contact your state consumer protection office if you have questions.) If you plan to continue payments while your dispute is in arbitration, money orders through the mail are an option rather than automatic withdrawals from your account. You may request a mailing address for payments and close the account they have access to. 
Also, if you have accepted and cancelled any other offers through the original solicitation, attempt to verify that there will be no billing from those companies as well. (They stated this is beyond their control, but I suspect the message may get delivered anyway.)

Keep all documentation of contact with this company. (Hopefully my daughter’s complaint is “satisfactorily resolved”- of course, no sign of the $68.28 refund yet. Regardless, I still intend to send all documentation of our experiences with this company and its partners to the Attorneys General offices in both my home state and PA to keep on file for their future reference- and notify National Readers Service, United Benefit Advantage, and ID Sentinel Alert of that fact as well.)

Post links with my entire NRS experience are here.

Thanks for visiting the NRS scam blog. Hope something here is helpful.
Good luck to all of us!! D/
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About me & theNRSscam blog

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I'm no one special, my kid is just one of "the scammed", and I'm keeping the promise I made to National Readers Service. By the way, while I can attest to the truth of my own personal experience with National Readers Service as presented here, I cannot make the same guarantee for the other complaints and comments posted here or linked on this site. Also the suggestions offered here worked for me, the opinions I post are my own, but neither constitute legal advice. You'd have to consult a lawyer for that, of course. I hope you find something helpful here if you need it.