Subscriber Warning: Suspicious Renewal Notifications
High Country News subscribers should be aware that an Oregon company is using the High Country News brand and has mailed unauthorized solicitations for High Country News subscriptions and renewals. Please note: THESE ARE NOT AUTHENTIC SOLICITATIONS FROM HIGH COUNTRY NEWS.
Update January 15, 2014
Since High Country News will not honor any subscriptions from Publishers Billing Emporium (read more below), they have issued a postcard (click here to see an image) to some of the subscribers we know have received and responded to their unauthorized solicitation. The postcard informs the subscriber that the HCN subscription will not be fulfilled, and that another title will be substituted. This message also contains an offer of refund and an 800 number. We advise any HCN subscriber who has been taken in by this organization to call this phone number and demand a refund.
Update November 23, 2013
A new round of fraudulent renewal notices has been sent out by Publishers Billing Emporium. In the last 24 hours, we've heard from two alert HCN readers in Montana and Minnesota.
Later today we will send out an email notification to the subscribers for which we have an email address. We will also schedule a Facebook post about this scam. The next issue of the magazine will have a prominent notification as well. In other words, we'll do our best to notify our subscribers of this scam.
We encourage anyone who receives this latest renewal to notify us (call us, toll-free, at 800-905-1155 or contact us through our feedback form), and then file a complaint with the Oregon Attorney General.
We have notified the Oregon AG's office of this new round of fraudulent notices.
Update July 24, 2013
One of the handful of HCN subscribers who were duped into this scam informed us that they had received an invoice from Publishers Billing Emporium for the 2nd half of the "subscription."
The company name being used on these solicitations is Publishers Billing Emporium of White City, Oregon. The solicitation we have seen offers a renewal service for $85.95 and includes some small print on the back. Since this company is not authorized to serve as an agent of High Country News, we recommend you do not respond to these solicitations. We will NOT honor any subscriptions they forward to us.
PBE's business model is to solicit heavily marked-up subscriptions, then have the publisher fulfill the subscription at the normal price. Months after the first wave of these unauthorized solicitations were sent out by PBE, HCN started receiving hand-lettered envelopes with no return address and only the bare minimum of information to process a subscription - a print-out of our online subscription form and a check for the standard subscription rate. Our small but alert in-house Circulation staff immediately tied these subscriptions to the PBE mailings. (In this case, HCN's smaller size was an advantage.)
Because PBE's model relies on the publisher (HCN) to fulfill these subscriptions, we chose to reject them. First, their scheme exploits our subscribers. Second, we do not want to legitimize their business practice in any way. We have returned every check and subscription we've received from PBE along with a clear message that we will not honor their orders.
Please note that "Publishers Billing Emporium" is but one of a long list of aliases this organization operates under. It's distinctly possible you will receive, or have received, similar solicitations under a different names for other publications you may subscribe to. This is not a comprehensive list, but other aliases we are aware of include:
- Billing Services Association
- Billing Services of America
- Circulation Billing Center
- Circulation Billing Services
- Magazine Billing Services
- Magazine Billing Network
- Magazine Billing Services
- Magazine Distribution Services
- National Magazine Services
- National Magazine Subscriptions
- Orbital Publishing Group
- Periodical Billing Services
- Publishers Billing Association
- Publishers Billing Center
- Publishers Billing Exchange
- Publishers Payment Processing, Inc.
- Publishers Subscription Services
- Readers Billing Network
- Readers Billing Services
- Readers Payment Center
- Readers Payment Services
- Subscription House Fulfillment
- United Publishers Services
High Country News does not engage other organizations to solicit subscriptions or renewals (with one minor exception that only affects libraries). For renewal emails for our regular subscribers, we will contact you directly through email or USPS postal mail. And we never use telemarketers to offer subscriptions.
If you ever have a question about solicitation or renewal notices using the High Country News name, please don't hesitate to call us, toll-free, at 800-905-1155 or contact us through our feedback form.
We do not suspect that any sensitive information has been compromised (such as credit card data). We suspect that HCN has simply become the latest target in a shady scheme that larger magazines have been dealing with for years.
What we are doing to inform our subscribers
- Email to all subscribers for which we have email addresses
- Prominent notifications in the printed magazine, beginning with the May 27, 2013 issue.
- Prominent notification on the HCN website
- Repeated notification through our Facebook page
- Prominent notices in our weekly email newsletters, beginning on May 7, 2013
What you can do
- Do not pay for the offer contained in these solicitations.
- If you know other HCN subscribers, make sure they know about this illegitimate offer.
- If you've been victimized by this scam, please call 1-800-735-0931 to demand a refund.
- If you have already paid, you MAY be able to work with your bank or credit card company to stop the check or reverse the charges. There is no guarantee of success in this as each creditor will have their own policy for handling a situation like this.
- File a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice, and/or your own state's Attorney General.
- Write a complaint to the White City, OR Postmaster:
Postmaster, White City, Oregon 97503