What the &$!#* is TME Magazine?

Author: Abe
April 10, 2012

So it was December 24, and I was doing my usual last minute Christmas shopping.  You know, where you’ve given up on actually buying people a gift that’s thoughtful and meaningful, and all you care about at this point is making sure there’s something in the box when they open it?  (“Hey, I know how much you like staplers, so…”)

Anyway, I’m shoving my cartload through the checkout line and perusing the gift cards to fill in any gift-related gaps on my Xmas list, and the cashier keeps hurling all of these “special offers” at me.  Extended warranties, prize drawings, free DVDs (if I’ll just buy two more), etc.  I’m deflecting all of these offers with the usual social grace of someone who’s doing his Christmas shopping at 5:40 on Christmas Eve, when he mentions the magazine subscriptions (including one that turned out to be from “TME Magazine“).

“How would you like to try three months risk-free of Sports Illustrated?”

Apart from the Swimsuit Issue™, my interests lie pretty far away from Sports Illustrated.  In fact, the light leaving Sports Illustrated would not reach my interests for many thousands of years.  However, my curiosity is peaked enough that I ask to see the list of titles.  There’s Time and CNN Money, which I’ll occasionally pretend to peruse in the doctor’s waiting room if I’m sitting next to someone attractive.  There’s Southern Accents and Southern Living, which are only less interesting to me than Sports Illustrated because they don’t have swimsuit issues.  And then there’s People and Entertainment Weekly.

TME Magazine

Yeah, I know.  Most of my friends would make me give my man card back if they found out I had subscribed to either of those, but hey!  Three free months, right?  What could go wrong?  My cashier, pleased to have finally pierced my inscrutable countenance and made some kind of human connection with me, lets me know that I could choose up to three magazines from the list, but that seems just a bit extravagant.  So in the end, I go with a three-month trial subscription to Entertainment Weekly.

So three months go by, and the magazines keep coming on a weekly basis.  I eventually realize that I’m still receiving magazines even after my trial should have expired.   I remind myself that I really should call and cancel, but I keep putting it off.  That is, until my credit card bill arrives.  I’m scanning the list of charges, checking to make sure there’s nothing unexpected, and I see a charge from TMEMAGAZINE.

Well, at first I’m a little perturbed.  I mean, I know I should have paid more attention, but I didn’t realize the subscription was going to auto-renew when the three month trial was up.  I figured they’d notify me and ask me if I wished to continue receiving the magazine.  (As it turns out, they had mailed me a postcard letting me know that my trial was ending and giving me the option to cancel my subscription before they started applying charges.  Unfortunately, this post card got tossed onto my dining room table with a bunch of other mail and I didn’t find it until a few months later, when I was spring cleaning.)

So the first thing I do is jump online and try to find contact information for TME Magazine or TME Mags.  What I do find are some customers who, like me, apparently didn’t read the fine print or check their mail.  Some of the complaints seem somewhat reasonable (e.g. “”I didn’t realize my trial subscriptions had expired.”) while some are just borderline insane (“They hacked into my bank account and stole $83!”).

Anyway, it seems that TME Magazine (or TMEMAGAZINE) is a subsidiary of Synapse Group, Inc., a marketing company that deals in magazine subscriptions.  The phone number (1-800-205-9198) wasn’t that hard to find, as it was right there in my credit card statement.  The automated system is kind of a pain, but you can bypass that by pressing zero until you’re connected with a live person.  In my case, it was a friendly gentleman named Charles, who was only too eager to help. The rest was pretty easy.  I gave Charles my account number (you can pull it off of the credit card bill or from the mailing label on your magazines), and he was able to pull me up and cancel.  He said I’d receive a refund for the magazines that “hadn’t been served,” and it would hit my bank within 3 business days.  Sure enough, it did.

I think the main reason TME Magazines/TMEMAGAZINE gets such a bad rap online all comes down to their auto-renewal of subscriptions (a service provided by parent company Synapse Group).  For the majority of their customers, who legitimately want to subscribe to the magazines offered by TME Mags, I imagine auto-renewal is more convenient than having to manually re-subscribe every year.  However, I suspect most of the online cries of “fraud” or “scam” come from folks who were enticed by the lure of free magazines, but failed to unsubscribe in time because they were too busy, distracted, or just plain lazy (like me).

So, what the &$!#*is TME Magazine?  It’s a subscription service for Synapse Group, Inc. that, and I quote, “uses customized marketing strategies to sell subscriptions to targeted consumer groups.”  If they’re cropping up on your credit card bill, then odds are you signed up for some magazines a while back and just lost track of time.


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  • Jenny

    To get your money back.
    Call 877-813-4977.

  • Thank you for this! Most helpful to me – I wondered how to contact TME Magazine and a I only vaguely remembered accepting the promotional subscription offer.

  • Joe Bal

    Thank you for this good info. I called 1-800-205-9198, and chose the option that said I wanted to subscribe to a new magazine. That got me to a real human. I just steadfastly told her I wanted a refund. She finally said it would appear on my CC in a few business days… we shall see!

  • tony

    Good Luck with that. I had to go through my credit card to stop them

  • tony

    They will keep charging you over and over again for magazines. They don’t quit easily once they have your information.

  • Jeff

    Called the number and was able to cancel two seperate subscriptions I did not ask for. They force you to listen to about 6 options of not cancelling before you can actually cancel and get a refund. Just say no and wait for the appropriate option. Very annoing and deceitful business.

  • Lisa

    I recieved a charge for Real Simple magazine (32.00) which a hosting website I had been to the day prior put thru (illegaly) to make their monitary share off of.
    TME says they will confirm the hosting website in 3-5 business days…we will see. I just want you to know to check your credit card statement often! They cancelled quick as could be for the subscription.

  • John

    I first heard that I had renewed my Time Magazine subscription when I received notice from PayPal that my credit card had been charged. Is TME running their auto billing through PayPal?

  • Edi

    Totally frustrating! Jeff, who commented above, had it right! My refund will be processed within 72 hours, thanks Jeff! Here’s what I did: Call and choose the “how do I cancel” option, then when they ask for the name of the magazine, just say “no”, regardless of what they then ask just keep saying “no”, finally it will say “we can’t understand you” and “we’ll transfer you to speak with a representative”…then you get a live person to whom you can complain and get your refund processed.

  • Daniel

    Great info. Called the number, ended up going through the automated system, and was able to cancle both magazines pretty efffortessly.

  • Lorna

    I got a charge from them on my credit card and I called them to have it removed. They told me they could not find my account, but if I gave them my credit card number they would try to find it that way. Right. Like I’m going to do that. How can they be billing me and then tell me they can’t find me?

  • Kathy

    I had to call my credit card to stop this, I could not get this canceled for months.