An annual newspaper subscription shouldn’t end after just 330 days

Robert Knapp’s renewal notice from the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper shows an early end to his annual subscription and doesn’t include a previously agreed-to credit. Our advocates ask the Enterprise to boldly go and restore his original contract.

Question: Last December, I prepaid $308 for a subscription to the Beaumont Enterprise. When Hurricane Harvey came ashore in southeast Texas this year, the Enterprise was unable to deliver my newspaper to me for nine days. I called the Enterprise and the newspaper agreed to a nine-day credit, which was to appear in my subscription renewal statement.

However, I just received a subscription renewal statement, which claims that my service will end on Nov. 21 because of obligatory “premium issues” included in my subscription. The statement shows the new “annual” subscription period as Nov. 11 to Dec. 19, 2017, which makes no sense! It also does not show the nine-day credit.

I did not request any “premium issues” when I paid for my subscription last year, and the only ones I’ve seen this year contain a couple of sections which I don’t read or want.

Can you help me get the Enterprise to honor my credit and to extend my subscription to Dec. 26, 2017? — Robert Knapp, Nederland, Texas

Answer: It’s certainly illogical for the Beaumont Enterprise to call a renewal period of less than a month an “annual” subscription. An annual subscription should cover 365 or 366 days, not 330.

But the Enterprise is a for-profit venture, and it’s completely logical that it would use every means at its disposal to increase its bottom line — including, as in your case, forcing subscribers to accept “premium issues,” even though those issues deplete their subscriptions at accelerated rates.

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When you received the renewal notice, you called the Enterprise (a media holding of Hearst Newspapers) to ask for a corrected renewal statement. But when your calls yielded no result (which you claim is typical for the Enterprise), you asked our advocates to assist you. (Our website contains executive contact information for Hearst Communications, which includes Hearst Newspapers.)

The Hearst terms of service don’t contain any language regarding premium issues. (These terms appear on the websites of both Hearst Communications and the Enterprise.)

Our advocates agree that you should not be charged for anything you did not agree to when you prepaid for your subscription. And as a resident of Houston who experienced the same isolation as you when Hurricane Harvey struck, I’m baffled by the Enterprise’s failure to honor its agreement not to charge you for the nine days when you couldn’t receive your newspaper.

We contacted the Enterprise on your behalf. You notified us that you received a call from an employee of the newspaper who agreed to extend your subscription to December 26, and you are happy with this outcome.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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