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Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson accused a Twin Cities magazine company Thursday of using deceptive sales tactics to sign up customers, many of them seniors, for magazine packages that cost up to nearly $1,000 each.
A lawsuit was filed by Swanson against Minnesota corporation Your Magazine Service Inc. and its owner, Wayne R. Dahl Jr., for an alleged scheme that targeted people who had already been sold magazine packages, to sign up for additional magazine packages, sometimes for publications they had no interest in.
For example, the company allegedly signed up an 87-year-old blind woman for magazines after she repeatedly said she couldn't read them. Swanson said the company also put a 75-year-old truck driver down for five magazine packages with a total cost of more than $4,000 that included Golf Week and Budget Travel, even though he said he never golfed in his life and had no more interest in budget traveling.
"People should be hyper-cautious of telemarketers who sell magazine subscriptions," Swanson said in a statement. "They may already have your credit card or bank information from another magazine company. Just by talking to them, you may end up unwittingly getting charged for magazines you don't want."
Dahl moved from Eden Prairie to Florida about six months ago after the attorney general's office served the company with a civil investigative demand. He could not be reached for comment. Nor could any other company representative.
The lawsuit was filed in Carver County District Court and seeks civil penalties, restitution and injunctive relief.
The company under the name "Your Magazine Service" called consumers and allegedly posed as their existing magazine providers to offer them a fake credit that the company said would save them as much as $150 on their account. However, the purpose of the call was really to enroll people in magazine packages that cost up to $998, the suit said.
The company usually charged people recurring monthly payments of $29.90, $39.90 or $49.90 and often signed people up for multiple magazine packages. At least 1,586 people were enrolled in three or more packages.
According to the lawsuit, Dahl said in a 2011 e-mail to a vendor from which he had purchased call lists: "At least 50% of them are 68 yrs old or older!!!! If one of them ever contact an AG [attorney general] lord knows theyre definitely gonna want blood for selling vulnerable elderly people, or there is a great chance of it."
The attorney general's office warned consumers in an alert to be on guard if someone calls from a magazine company. Magazine telemarketers often charge grossly inflated prices for magazines that consumers can buy directly from publisher at lower rates, according to the office.
The office encouraged consumers to end the call if they aren't interested in an offer, ask for the company to mail the offer so they can read the fine print, not give out banking information on the phone with unfamiliar telemarketers and dispute unauthorized charges with their financial institution.