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A consumer complaint about Consumer Reports

Monday, January 12, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named cr.jpgThis story just drips with irony! Permalink to this paragraph

2.5 years ago I had just signed the papers to buy a house in Berkeley, and based on past experience as a home owner, it was time to become a member of the Consumer Reports website. I figured if I'm going to be spending thousands of dollars on this house, it would make sense to go for the premium service, so I could access all the information on the site. Doing my part to support a non-profit that does good work. I even checked the box that said they should automatically renew me every year without requiring confirmation, that's how sure I was this organization, above all others, could be trusted.  Permalink to this paragraph

No fault of theirs, my credit card number got out to some bad guys in Malta or Africa, and the credit card company detected it, contacted me as I was checking into a hotel in NY (by declining the charge, thank you very much) and after talking them into approving the charge (while dripping wet from a NY rainstorm) we agreed they should cancel the card and issue a new number.  Permalink to this paragraph

So, when Consumer Reports tried to charge my annual fee, it was declined. They sent an email, I went to the website, entered the new number, clicked Submit. I then got an email thanking me for subscribing to the print magazine! Which is something I totally did not do, mean to do, want to do, under any circumstance. I am always trying to reduce clutter, and I hate getting magazines I never asked for in the mail, and I certainly don't want to pay for magazine clutter in my mailbox. Permalink to this paragraph

So I called their 800 number (hard to find on the website) and asked nicely but firmly that they cancel this subscription that I did not want. I just want the website, thank you. The operator assured me it had been done, when I asked her to confirm what I had asked her to do.  Permalink to this paragraph

All was good until the latest issue of Consumer Reports magazine arrived in the mail last week. I expect no matter what I do I will continue to receive the magazine, which I have been charged for and no doubt will not be refunded. I could make a case out of it, but it's just $26 and that values my time pretty cheaply. I know there's a recession, but I will have to settle for airing my issue publicly in this blog post.  Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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