Thursday, January 24, 2008


I have created a new label for posts called "Scams" as I report people's attempts to sneak money from me. Some of them are perfectly legal, if still scummy. Some may not be. Here's one that's on the line.

An envelope came in the mail from GQ Magazine yesterday. I usually throw these solicitations out unread and I don't know what spurred me to open this one. I made the mistake of subscribing to Esquire so now other magazines (including GQ, Men's Health and Playboy) regularly send me pitches.

When I've opened them in the past, the envelopes have contained letters telling me how much smarter, richer and sexier I would be if only I paid them to send me their magazine. This must be true. I mean, who gets laid more than a guy who sells magazines? That's what I want to be when I grow up.

Yet I have somehow resisted. I got the Esquire only because it was just $11 for two years and even at that rate it's not vital to my well-being as a functioning citizen.

But GQ doesn't want to take NO for an answer. And it tried a new tack. Instead of trying to sell me an order; it told me I had already placed one. "ACKNOWLEDGEMENT," it read at the top. "THANK YOU FOR YOUR ORDER!" And below that:

Dear John Mcquiston:
          Thank you for ordering GQ magazine. Your first issue should be arriving shortly.
          We are billing in 4 monthly installments. Your first payment of $6.02 is now due. Please return the attached bill with your check payment to GQ. Respond by 2/11/2008 to receive our exclusive GQ Gym Bag -- FREE with your FULL payment.

Charles Simpson, For GQ

P.S. As a subscriber, you are saving over 75% off the cover price.

Why, that's fantastic! Only I intend to save 100% off the cover price as well as the trouble of flipping through hundreds of photos of anorexic people dressed in expensive clothes by keeping my check and returning the bill in their pre-paid envelope marked "DID NOT ORDER. DO NOT WANT. REMOVE MY NAME FROM YOUR MAILING LIST."

But I wonder if this is a tactic targeting Florida. We have a lot of older people who might see a bill and figure, "I don't remember ordering GQ but if this says I did, I must have. When's the payment due?" And they'd dutifully write a check. My mother would.

I don't know that this is fraud but it sure edges dangerously close, if you ask me. Which you didn't but I told you anyway.


Ike said...

Is the envelope pre-paid?

Stuff a bunch of credit card solicitations in the envelope, so it will weigh more and cost them when it arrives.

John said...

Funny you should mention that. Yes, the envelope was pre-paid -- another clue that this wasn't a bill for something I had ordered -- and, while I didn't have any credit card offers handy this time, I have often made recreational use of junk mail. At the solicitors' expense, of course.

I wrote an essay about it on my old journal page more than ten years ago: