“No Need to Think—We’ll Spend Your Money for You!”

Many people want to hijack more and more of your money, especially when they’re sure that you haven’t a clue!

Often it is the government, with its endless spending, futile welfare programs, poorly run transit services and ill-moral, often useless, wars that we pay for in countless ways for generations and generations. And, even in so-called democratic countries, there’s usually nothing that stops this government process of impoverishing all of us.

But some parts of the private sector are learning how to copy the ill-morality of governments.

How?

Everyone wants to get paid as soon as possible. So, too, do some of the magazine and newspaper publications, many of whose physical products are fighting to survive in the Internet age. This is an age in which electronic publications can be produced at a fraction of the cost of the physical publications, which labor under huge legacy costs.

Do you subscribe to publications and pay for them with your credit cards? Then look out.

There’s a scam some publications are using to snare you; to keep you buying their products even after you don’t want them anymore. It’s called automatic renewal.

Here’s how it works. I offer you a publication—it can be a daily newspaper or a magazine—-at an incredibly cheap price. This is what is called “an introductory rate.” The initial period is usually a relatively short time, quite often four to six months. You pay through a credit card. The introductory period comes to an end.

Then what?

The subscription service employed by the publication uses your card. You are automatically renewed and at a much higher rate. You never had the chance to say whether you wanted to renew it or not; whether you thought the new rate was too much or not.

Recently, I saw an entry in my credit card records for this publication being renewed and at a rate I never approved. I immediately called.

“All our publications are now being automatically renewed,” I was told when I called to ask why they were taking money from me without asking. I told the operator to cancel my publication posthaste. I now buy the paper on the newsstand somedays and somedays do not. I, not some sleazy subscription service, exercise the choice of how my money is spent or not spent.

This same kind of “we expect more business from you and want it now mentality” takes place with some cellphone companies. Even before one runs out of minutes, one hears this annoying message that one needs to add more minutes. That’s even though the subscriber still might have an hour or more left on the phone.

How many times do publications ask you to extend your subscriptions even though you still might have close to a year left? I get this pitch plenty of times and it often bothers me; making me think do I want to ever do business with these birds ever again?

If this doesn’t bother you ask yourself this: Do the people who owe you money for any product or service—say an employer—pay you weeks or months in advance?

I thought not.

They pay you only when you have advanced your product or the service, certainly a sensible practice. Then why should I prepay for something years in advance? And some of these publications might not even be here in six or nine months. Who will then give you a refund?

Remember, although “this pay up, sucker, and pay up months before you have to” mentality is irritating, there’s a way around it that will help you: Keep an eye on your credit card entries on line. Do it frequently. Monitor checks that are going out of your checking account. Watch your property or money, which, in most cases, took you years to accumulate (It certainly did in the case of my wife and I, who began our marriage with a nice round figure: nada).

Why be vigilant about your property?

It’s because it is unlikely that anyone—most especially not the government, which engages in its own scams—will keep an eye on it better than you will. We may not like that. But, as in some realities in life, it is simply a fact.

Has someone automatically renewed your subscription?

Call up and end it right then and there. And tell the subscription service that you are unhappy, angry that this service (sic), without your approval, reached into your card account and took money from you. Cancel the publication. Then insist on your money back (I’ve gotten chargebacks on my credit cards).

And, if hesitant to discontinue a publication, remember you can often live without it. This publication doesn’t represent the only oasis in the desert and you’ll die if you don’t use it.

If you need the publication, then buy that publication from the newsstand. Paying cash for it you’ll probably find you don’t buy it as much (Mondays are commonly lousy days for most papers, although Sundays usually are the best). And maybe you’ll find another publication that offers the same kind of coverage.

In a competitive society, no one publication is indispensable. However, your property is indispensable because it is not unlimited. You need to protect it. Why? No one earns an unlimited amount of dollars or euros or any other currency over the course of a lifetime.

One of the purposes of this blog is to help you find ways to make your resources last and maybe even accumulate enough to reach financial independence at an age when you still have all your teeth. And, by preserving assets, you can possibly even pass on some of your property to a charity or to a relative.

But none of that will happen if you let anyone just “automatically” help themselves to your hard-earned property and geld. They belong to you, not to some pushy publication peddler.

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.