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ESPN Can Choke On A Bucket of Cocks

July 8, 2007

Click image for larger version

So, I let my subscription to ESPN: The Magazine expire a few months ago, declining their many, many requests for me to re-up, and then what should come in today’s mail but a collection notice.

Startled, since I’m usually not a deadbeat, I opened the notice & read it, when I realized it’s not ACTUALLY a collections notice, it’s yet another re-up, only it’s DESIGNED to make me think I’m a deadbeat (“FINAL NOTICE” “COLLECTION DEPARTMENT” “PLEASE COOPERATE”).

The “collection agency” language is all over the fucking thing, but the signs of its true nature are clear. Note how on the bill it says “Order:26 issues.” On top of that, I’m not receiving ESPN: The Magazine and haven’t been for quite a few months (since my initial sub expired). If I had re-subbed & not paid, I’d have received a few issues of the magazine first, right? I haven’t. Cause I never subscribed.

It gets worse: notice that the threat in red letters is to have my deadbeat status “listed on my permanent record” at ESPN the Magazine. Not like at Experian or Equifax, who maintain consumer credit histories, but at the internal ESPN hall of permanent records. Another weird note: most collections agencies are 3rd party, but this letter comes directly from “T. Daniels” of ESPN’s internal collection dept.

Finally, notice how there’s no phone number to call to sort this out. Don’t collection agencies usually provide like a phone number to call and pay over the phone via credit card? Not here. Because this isn’t a letter from a collections agency, despite what it looks like.

I work in marketing and I live in L.A., so I’m pretty used to questionable tactics, but this is really brazen. I’d understand if they actually thought I had subscribed, but they know I haven’t, and they’re just trying to trick me into paying out of guilt.  The OE (that’s “Outer Envelope” to you lucky bastards who don’t use direct mail terms in your casual conversation) has “Collections Agency” and “Attempt to Collect a DEBT” written all over it in accusatory red, so now my mailman thinks I’m a deadbeat too. Fuckers.

UPDATE: apparently I’m not the only one ESPN has tried this on.  And that entry is from 2 years ago, so this is not a new trick they’re employing.  And here’s ANOTHER.  Jesus this is really bold/illegal.  I wonder how much money there is in a class action suit.  Note to self: their customer service phone number is 888-267-3684 and it’s open M-F till 7PM CST.

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19 comments

  1. *picks jaw from floor*

    This would actually BE illegal up here…and in fact, cause for action on the part of the named target.

    I notice the use of the F-word in here is more prevalent than in most of your posts…assuming that you are truly angry? 🙂

    You pay the fare, and I will come down there and at least rough up the Postal Worker for you…then we can go from there.


  2. I like your thinking; I can just imagine how confused the mailman will be when he tries to reconcile the fact that I’m too cheap to pay my magazine subscriptions with the fact that I hired someone to fly in from Canada to beat him up for no reason.


  3. I have not had the ‘pleasure’ of such a notice from ESPN. I get them all the time, however, from the Yellow Pages, multiple website hosting and management companies, and oddly enough, men’s magazines targeted at my husband as opposed to me. I guess these companies think that a male reaction – as you pointed out – is to avoid being seen as a deadbeat, so a man may be more inclined to pay a bill that looks like a collection notice when it’s really a come-on. I’m glad you didn’t fall for it. I’m going to do some investigating into the legality of such snow jobs. I’ll let you know if I find anything of interest. But then, I live not far from DC – everything seems to be legal ’round here.


  4. The douchebags at Entertainment Weekly topped this one. My wife stupidly (she doesn’t read this, right??) agreed to the “six free magazine” trick at Best Buy about two years ago. We cancelled the subscription before they renewed it.

    Last year, I signed up for six months of EW because I like to read Stephen King’s column in there. But, I let it lapse because it really wasn’t worth the $20. So I ignored their letters (eerily similar to the ESPN bill).

    Those cock knockers auto-renewed my subscription using my wife’s debit card that was used on a prior subscription!

    The best part is that their $30 charge put me $2.00 in the hole and resulted in $64 in overdraft fees from my bank.

    Be glad they don’t have your card number on file, Beldar…


  5. I would send them a “bucket of cocks”! That will teach them.


  6. Don’t you think that the actual act of chopping off enough cocks to fill a bucket would be worse than sending illegal/misleading junk mail?

    Yeah, I didn’t either.


  7. What’s the most shocking element of this story to me is that Jonathan actually subscribes to ESPN Magazine. For the child of academics who was never taught how to throw a ball, is this some sort of compensation strategy? I could see Scopus Magazine (http://www.info.scopus.com/is/) but not ESPN…


  8. My underage son also received this disgusting piece of Karl Rovian bully tactic. If you hear of a class action suit against these scumbags, please add our name to the list. Fortunately I’m cynical enough to have realized after a few minutes of scrutinizing the bill that it was phony. But my son didn’t know. By the way, we had planned to continue the subscription because he likes the magazine, but after this low life corporate trickery, they can forget it.


  9. I just spoke to ESPN who claims we ordered the magazine. If we did not, then they are violating our state’s consumer protection laws as well as the federal laws by engaging in deceptive marketing tactics through the U.S. Postal Service. If anyone is concerned, I suggest you send a letter to your state attorney general as well as the U.S. Postal service and cc ESPN. Perhaps that will stop them. I did write to ESPN asking them for a copy of the order they said we made for ESPN. They’re fax number is 515 433 1013 or support @ espn.go.com atten Rachel. They’re direct dial number is on their website.


  10. Add one more to the list … I just got mine today. Exact same one pictured above. I had the same. I bought a subscription last year. Liked it but not enough to renew. Nothing personal, just don’t really see the difference between the magazine and the website.

    Never received another issue past what I paid for but now they are trying to use scare tactics against me? Fuck them to hell. I’ll never use the magazine to wipe my ass, let alone read it again.


  11. I recieved a similar request under the same circumstances. I signed up for a free one year subscription by using Delta skymiles, so they must be getting really desperate to retain customers. I am apalled at such marketing techniques, and will not be renewing due to the fact that I recieved this.


  12. This gimmick has not run it course yet…

    I got one of these in the mail yesterday!

    I was concerned… so I looked it up on-line and found this posting!

    Hopefully we all don’t owe ESPN THE MAG $14.97 for life:)


  13. I just got mine too. Exact same one. I called in and talked to Raoul who said I had been “auto-renewed”. I asked how that was possible since I hadn’t received a magazine in 9 months and they didn’t have my permission or credit card information. He apologized and said it would all be taken care of. I then informed him that sending this kind of crap out to people who really are getting collection notices, losing their jobs and trying to stay in their homes is the most embarassing and shameful thing I’ve ever heard of. I was a fan of the Mag, but will never give them another penny as long as I live.


  14. My husband told me not to renew his subscription, as Sporting News is more in line with how he wants his sports. I didn’t renew, haven’t received a magazine in MONTHS, and I’ve now received two of these collection letters. I will be contacting the Attorney General in our state to inform him of this, it’s ridiculous. If the collection department were in fact sending this, then the return envelope would be directed to the collection department, and instead it’s to ESPN THE MAGAZINE. We will NEVER subscribe to them again!!!


  15. Just got my 3rd collections notice. Called and got ahold of a super friendly customer support rep. Told her that she did not get paid enough to deal with me and to put me through to her supervisor, which she quickly did. Long story short, after blasting the supervisor for 5 minutes I got the same song and dance about them having an order from me that I did not place, but he promised to take me off of their list. I also will never subscribe to their magazine again and will engage in physical combat with anyone from ESPN the Ragazine.


  16. I’ve gotten a very similar letter recently. It says that when I placed the order I agreed to pay or cancel. I paid for the subscription, it expired and I didn’t pay for another cuz i’m about to go to Afghanistan. And now they’re saying i’m $14.97 in debt to them! It’s comical!


  17. This is the exact same thing that happened to me.
    Thanks to everyone that commented above. ESPN is nothing but a bottom feeder. They get school kids to sell their product as a fund raiser and then stick it to the subscriber!


  18. Got exact same letter and another one, I called them the girl seemed real nervous said my order had been canceled past sunday…weird i told her I never re subscribed and no one ever called to cancel…said it would be taken care of and not on my credit report. I told her if I see anything on there legal means will be sought.


  19. Just got one of these today…ridiculous!



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