“Today my current copy of Time came,” writes Romenesko reader Ken Cady. “It has a cover over the cover informing me that my subscription is being automatically renewed for another three years. Huh? My subscription does not expire until December, 2015, but they want to charge my credit card now for a ‘renewal’ that won’t occur for another 20 months.
“That forces me to front them money well before any reasonable company would ask for it. Are they so broke that they have to resort to this cheap stunt? Maybe you can find out. I doubt they will tell me!”
I found out that it was an error.
Sending out renewal notices 20 months in advance “is not a standard practice,” Time spokesman Daniel Kile explains in an email. “It was nothing more than a systems error that affected a tiny percentage of our subscribers, causing them to receive their auto-renewal letters far too early. Six weeks before the end of a sub is when we usually send them.”
Kile tells me in a follow-up phone call that about 10,000 subscribers out of 3.5 million received the early notice.
“No one was charged, we’ve fixed the technical problem, and the affected subscribers will be receiving a letter from us shortly explaining what happened.”