Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is warning consumers about misleading and unauthorized subscription renewal notices from Associated Publishers Network (APN) located in Henderson, Nev.
BBB has received a volume and pattern of complaints regarding billing and collection, delivery, refund or exchange, and sales practice issues of APN. It has also reported that they continue to bill credit or debit cards even after they were asked to stop, and the consumer cancelled the subscription. APN has an “F” rating with BBB.
APN’s typical response to complaints filed with BBB states, in part, that their offers are sent out periodically and are marketing pieces only. We merely send out offers as stated plainly on each offer and no one is obligated to respond.”
Several leading publications - The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist and New Yorker Magazine - have been hit in APN’s effort that aims to get consumers to make payments directly to them, not to the publication itself, as is usually requested with legitimate subscriptions. Consumers, who have taken the bait, complain that the expected magazines and newspapers don’t arrive, and upon contacting the publishers, they learn that APN has no relationship with them. Meanwhile, phone calls and emails to APN, requesting a refund, are ignored.
The Omaha World-Herald (OWH) recently reported to BBB that their customers have been receiving renewal notices from APN. OWH has confirmed that the newspaper has no working relationship with this company. According to the notices, the consumer is directed to make a credit card payment at unitedpubex.com. BBB investigation found that you must click on the Publishers Payment link, “To take advantage of your offer.” In turn, this link takes you publisherspayment.com, the website for Publishers Payment Processing, located in Medford, Oregon.
Publishers Payment Processing told BBB that they are just a call center and they are not affiliated with APN, and just take calls for them. When BBB suggested that they are assisting in advancing these misleading offers, and the investigator asked to speak with the company’s owner, they said they could not divulge that information. Publishers Payment Processing also has an “F” rating with BBB.
Consumers further allege APN’s renewal advertisement states it has “the lowest renewal fee,” but consumers find that renewing directly through the publisher costs less. In fact, the actual renewal rate with OWH is significantly less than the amount stated on the renewal notices from APN.
The New York Times has filed a complaint with the BBB, stating Associated Publishers Network is not connected with or authorized to solicit renewals or subscriptions.
The Wall Street Journal has issued its own fraud alerts in response to complaints. It says APN claims to do business on behalf of the Journal using various names - United Publisher’s Clearing House, National Magazine Services, Orbital Publishing and Publisher’s Billing Exchange. All of these companies share the same address with Associated Publishers Network, 850 S. Boulder Highway, Henderson, Nev., or a post office box in Oregon,
“It is important to remember that subscription solicitations need to be examined closely,” stated BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty. “BBB advises consumers to always check the payment address of subscription solicitors; check out all third party billers with BBB to determine if the company has a favorable record; and do not provide any financial information to subscription solicitations until you have thoroughly checked them out. If you feel that you have received a fraudulent renewal invoice, file a complaint with BBB at bbbinc.org and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.”
“Your best defense when starting or renewing a subscription is to expect that payment should be made directly to the publication. Some publishers do use legitimate third-party companies to handle payments, but before paying them anything, vet their legitimacy by calling the publication yourself. Rely on phone numbers you have independently determined belong to the publication that can be found printed in its pages (usually on or near the staff box page) - not numbers or email addresses on notices you receive in the mail,” advised Hegarty.
Better Business Bureau, Inc. (BBB) has been assisting U.S consumers and businesses since 1912 and is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing trust in the marketplace. Accountability, education and recognition of business role models are key components to the BBB’s mission. Today BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota the Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is supported by approximately 10,000 Accredited Businesses that have voluntarily committed to adhere to BBB’s Standards of Trust. Consumers are encouraged to visit bbb.org for Business Reviews on over 4 million companies or to report complaints and possible scams.