Why is the Food Network Magazine harassing this lady?

Why won't Food Network stop harassing her?

Even though Bette Waterstreet has repeatedly told the Food Network Magazine she doesn’t want to renew, it’s not getting the message. Can anyone make the bills stop?

Question

I am being harassed by the Food Network Magazine regarding a subscription I have chosen not to renew no less than three times.

My original subscription was to expire October/November 2013. They sent me a card in June, stating that it would be automatically renewed. That doesn’t sit well with me, so I canceled the subscription (I thought) via e-mail, dated June 14. I asked that this request be confirmed. It wasn’t. I then followed this up with a letter, requesting the same.

Following this, I found the renewal charge on my MasterCard statement. I contacted MasterCard, told them my story, and they removed the charge.

In October and November, I’ve received bills for this magazine that I do not want.

They’re very clever in not revealing an actual person to address mail to, or in not providing a phone number at which I could speak to someone in person.

I’d like to know who has the power to actually do something about this. What I don’t want is to be referred to a collection agency, which may be their next step. Is this something you can help me with? — Bette Waterstreet, Sacramento, Calif.

Answer

Of course, Food Network should have processed your cancellation quickly and without question.

So why didn’t it? Well, aggressive “auto-renew” techniques are fairly common in the magazine industry. (Here’s an article I recently wrote explaining why we need some laws about this auto-renew-marketing technique) In 2006, Time Inc. agreed to stop doing something that looked very similar to what you encountered.

What troubles me the most about your case is that there was no easy way to contact Food Network in order make the magazines stop. Your emails to the magazine went unanswered. Your phone calls appear to have been ignored. Even your credit card dispute met with limited success.

To me, that suggests Food Network is doing its best to opt you “in” to keeping your subscription another year, despite your protests. That’s no way to keep a customer.

Full Disclosure

Several years ago I was the host of a travel show that aired on the Fine Living Network, which is owned by the same company as the Food Network. It was turned into the Cooking Channel before we could do a second season. But if I were still affiliated with the operation, I’d be pretty steamed. This is embarrassing.

There are other ways of contacting the Food Network Magazine. A little sleuthing will reveal that it’s published by Hearst. It’s not too difficult to extract the names and email addresses with a few clicks. Email addresses are formatted firstinitiallastname@hearst.com. So if I worked for Hearst — which I don’t — my email address would be celliott@hearst.com.

As far as I can tell, Food Network Magazine doesn’t need to resort to these hard-sell tactics to get your repeat business. It offers a solid editorial product. Subscribers’ needs change, and the magazine needs to accept that instead of pressuring you into a renewal.

A response from Food Network

I contacted Food Network Magazine on your behalf. You received a direct email from a senior editor. She apologized that the company had made the cancellation process “so complicated and frustrating for you.”

“It should not be this difficult,” she added. “Please accept my apology on behalf of the magazine and if you have any concerns in the future please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.”

Oh, and Food Network? It canceled your subscription, once and for all.

Is the Food Network making it too difficult to cancel its subscriptions?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.