Monday, September 28, 2009

Shamefully Ripping Off the Elderly

I've had it with companies ripping off the elderly.

Tonight I have another example of this that I'll share.

The elderly are used to doing things the same way. They sometimes are stuck in routines. Some also place trust in companies they deal with, especially companies that have been around for a long time. This trust is placed at their peril.

The small rip-off's that the elderly endure, which they usually have no clue about, can add up. Seniors on fixed incomes need to watch their spending. The spending adds up. Even elderly people who think they are pinching pennies may be getting ripped off due to not shopping around.

It is too bad that fixed routine and overly trusting elderly people wind up getting taken advantage of.

Here is one example from this evening.

My mother-in-law has been subscribing to Good Housekeeping for years. It is published by Hearst Communications, a huge and longstanding company. She apparently renewed her subscription by following the directions on the bill they sent her. The bill arrived, it is for $24 for one year (12 issues).

When I saw the bill it seemed high to me. I check on (my favorite bookseller) and today's rate for new or renewed TWO YEAR subscriptions is $15 PLUS there is a September special to get an extra $5 off. That is $10 for two years (24 issues). Yet here my mother-in-law was going to pay FIVE TIMES that rate due to direct billing from Hearst.

(A second offer of $8 for one year was on too. That makes the Amazon price 75% lower than the Hearst direct billing price.)

Now I know my mother-in-law is not Internet savvy and perhaps therein lies the problem. She had the Internet for years and despite having time on her hands, didn't learn to use it as she didn't want to. But elderly people with friends and relatives can ask others for a bit of help such as "Can you double check the price of this magazine subscription for me?". Those of us who are quick with a keyboard and Google-savvy, especially those of us who understand the necessity of frugal living or at least don't like to be ripped off will be willing and able to help them.


Follow-Up: I have cancelled the expensive subscription and bought a subscription through for my mother-in-law.


Nicole said...

Did you by chance inform Hearst of your reason for canceling the subscription? You may want to let them know how outraged you are at treating long-standing customers, especially ones in situations like your MIL, to "market" rate. They may offer an extra year, but a minimum just so they know that people do not like being taken advantage of.

christinemm said...

I was going to call them to discuss it, or email them, but their bill with a letter has no phone or email contact info. Nothing offers to reach a cust svc rep at all. Or how to access an acct through their website. So I cancelled in writing on the bill.

I did want them to know of this.

BTW, to repeat the bill was 12 issues for $24 and it had an extra box that said for more savings pay $48 for 24 issues--2 years!! DUH there is no additional savings for 2 years (unlike some mags I subscribe to that offer a higher price on year one & discount year two if paid up front).