Houston Company Gets Sued Over Alleged Magazine-Subscription Scam

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Buying magazines on the cheap sounds like a good idea. So you can hardly blame folks such as Andrea Cappuzzo of Independence, Missouri when she dialed up


on the Web, a site operated by a Houston-based company called Creative One.

The website offers sensational discounts on almost every major magazine title. Some, however, say the deal is far too good to be true.

According to a complaint filed with the Houston chapter of the Better Business Bureau, Cappuzzo ordered the National Enquirer in May 2007. She says her credit card was billed immediately, and though she repeatedly called the company asking where her magazine was, she never received an issue.

“First I was told that the subscription didn’t go through,” she says. “Then I was told that the magazine company did not receive the money, then they lost the order. I’ve pretty much written off the money or the magazine. This company needs to be stopped.”

Cappuzzo is hardly alone. The BBB says its received 721 complaints in the past 36 months. And now a company that publishes several of the magazines that are not being delivered to customers are taking a swing at the local subscription company.

American Media Inc., which publishes top-selling magazines such as the National Enquirer, Men’s Fitness, Shape, Globe and Mira, has filed a lawsuit in Houston federal court against Creative One and at least two of its officers, David Shaw and Brandon Fallon, both of Houston.

American Media claims that Creative One does not have the authority to sell or collect fees for subscriptions to its magazines. The publishing company claims it told Creative One this summer to stop soliciting subscriptions to AMI titles, but that Creative One has ignored its request. Indeed as of today, consumers can still order AMI publications at mags4cheap.com.

When Hair Balls called Creative One this morning asking for comment on the pending lawsuit, the man who answered the phone immediately hung up.

AMI claims in the lawsuit that it learned Creative One was taking payments for subscriptions and then simply doing nothing, thus leaving the subscription unfilled. When angry consumers called Creative One to complain, they were falsely told the issue was with the publisher.

Robert Dickenson of Kennewick, WA is in the same boat as Cappuzzo. He says he ordered several magazines off of the website and never got a single one.

“For a year now I have contacted then a dozen times and they promised a refund by check,” he tells the BBB. “Every time I contact them they give me the run around. They aren’t going to give my money back and it seems like there is nothing I can do about it. I was robbed and know who the robber is but can do nothing.”

Perhaps when the dust settles, this lawsuit can pave the way for consumers like Dickenson and Cappuzzo to seek justice themselves.

-- Chris Vogel

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