Business Audits: Don't Neglect Fine Points; Brushing Up on Details Will Save Auditing Headaches

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Business audits: Don't neglect fine points

New York City--Business circulators, test yourselves: Must reader request cards contain a signature in order to be counted on a magazine audit statement? No, says former auditor Barry Green, now director of circulation, Hearst Business Communications, Inc. Speaking at Face to Face, The FOLIO:Show/Spring, Green noted that even the most astute business magazine circulators may overlook some of the more arcane regulations in winding through the auditing maze.

A sample of those fine points:

* Qualified subscribers to monthlies must receive at least six months of continuous service, subject to normal additions and removals. In certain circumstances, if a recipient is rotated out of the qualified circulation roster before six months have elapsed, that recipient must be retroactively removed from the count for that period.

If, for example, 5,000 names from an association list are added to the qualified count, and 2,000 are dropped three months later, they must be eliminated from the count for the first three months. "Someone could easily break this rule without thinking anything is wrong," said Green.

* Both Business Publications Audit of Circulation (BPA) and Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) stipulate that a request card must provide for a reader's signature and a yes/no question relating to interest in receiving the magazine. Yet, no requirement states that the card must be signed or checked "yes"; the fact that the card was mailed back is proof that the person wants the free publication.

"As an auditor, I found many knowledgeable circulation professionals were unnecessarily sending back unsigned cards," said Green. On the other hand, an auditor "would look askance if 50 percent of your documents were unsigned and unchecked. …