Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

U.S. News' Rebate Offer under Fire: Subscribers May Be Upset When the Check Never Arrives, Industry Observers Believe

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

U.S. News' Rebate Offer under Fire: Subscribers May Be Upset When the Check Never Arrives, Industry Observers Believe

Article excerpt

Subscribers may be upset when the check never arrives, industry observers believe.

WASHINGTON, D.C.-A U.S. News & World Report blow-in card subscription offer, which claims to offer new subscribers a $1.95 rebate, is deceptive, say some circulation consultants.

The problem: Readers responding to the offer will never get a $1.95 check in the mail, according to an employee in the magazine's subscription department. The magazine has already deducted $1.95 from regular six-month, one-year and two-year subscription rates. The reduced rates appear on the card next to the regular rates, which have been crossed out.

It would not be cost-effective for the magazine to mail readers checks for $1.95, circulation consultants say, but many elements of the offer might lead readers to believe that's what they'd get. The blow-in card is called a publisher's coupon and bears a January 1991 expiration date. In two places, a subscriber rebate is mentioned. In one, copy reads, "Subscribe to US. News now and get a $1.95 rebate-the amount you paid for this issue." Also, a UPC code on the coupon might lead some to think they need to redeem it for their rebate.

Consumers' perceptions that they will get a rebate could fuel response to the offer, consultants agree. The blow-in card does offer "the incentive to buy without a big discount," says consultant David Lee. Adds Tyson Associates' Elaine Tyson, "More people are interested in coupons right now because of the downturn in economy. …

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