What the &$!#* is TWX Magazine?
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 “TWX 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.
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 TWX MAGS.
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 TWX Magazine or TWX 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 $83!”).
Anyway, it seems that TWX Magazine (or TWX Mags) is a subsidiary of Synapse Group, Inc., a marketing company that deals in magazine subscriptions. The phone number (1-800-205-9198) wasn’t that hard to find, as it was right there in my credit card statement. The automated system is kind of a pain, but you can bypass that by pressing zero until you’re connected with a live person. In my case, it was a friendly gentleman named Charles, who was only too eager to help. The rest was pretty easy. I gave Charles my account number (you can pull it off of the credit card bill or from the mailing label on your magazines), and he was able to pull me up and cancel. He said I’d receive a refund for the magazines that “hadn’t been served,” and it would hit my bank within 3 business days. Sure enough, it did.
I think the main reason TWX Magazines/TWX Mags gets such a bad rap online all comes down to their auto-renewal of subscriptions (a service provided by parent company Synapse Group). For the majority of their customers, who legitimately want to subscribe to the magazines offered by TWX Mags, I imagine auto-renewal is more convenient than having to manually re-subscribe every year. However, I suspect most of the online cries of “fraud” or “scam” come from folks who were enticed by the lure of free magazines, but failed to unsubscribe in time because they were too busy, distracted, or just plain lazy (like me).
So, what the &$!#*is TWX 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.
- TWX Magazine/TWX Mags Customer Support: 1-800-205-9198
- Official Homepage: TWX Magazine
- Synapse Group, Inc. Home Website: http://www.synapsegroupinc.com