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17Apr/090

PC Gamer Subscription Chronicles 2: Into The Black Hole

PC Gamer Subscription Chronicles 2: Into The Black Hole

In the first entry of this series, I relayed a mildly amusing story of how PC Gamer has inexplicably lost my new subscription, The event is seemingly suspect as it came directly after I published an article that was mildly critical of their magazine.

If you recall, when we left off, I had written this message to the PC Gamer subscription service:


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Excuse me. but you are mistaken.

My subscription STARTED with the January 2009 issue.
I received just two issues. You still owe me 10 issues.

Please send me the two issues that I missed, plus the next 8 issues.

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


Here was the response:


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.
We are unable to locate your payment.

Please provide any additional information about your payment, so we
may correct your subscription. Due to security reasons, please do
not include credit card or account numbers in your reply. Should you
need to provide that information, please contact us at the address below or call us.

PC Gamer


So, as I expected. since I bought the subscription through a magazine drive and not through PC Gamer directly, they do not have a record of the payment. That is understandable. I decided to give them as much information as I had available in the hope that they could locate something about my mysteriously missing subscription.


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

I purchased the subscription through a magazine drive, either through
Girl's Scouts or at my daughter's school. All payments were made by
check, and it was for a whole set of magazines (not just PC Gamer). I
received a subscription card with a code that I had to type-in on-line
to get the subscription started.

After I typed in the code, I received the January 2009 issue (In
December), and the February 2009 issue (in January) and then the
subscription ceased arriving in my mail box.

I'm not sure what else to say. I've NEVER had a subscription cease 2
issues into a year, and then have the company claim that I never had a
subscription in the first place. Why did I get the first 2 issues of
this year if my subscription ended in December 2008?

If, for some bizarre reason, I only bought a "2-issue" subscription,
why would your system say that I did not renew in December 2008?

One question: Is there any history of school magazine drive companies
not making the payments to you, and you guys stopping subscriptions?

Here is the full # from my first shipping label (if that helps)

#xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


So now I suspect the magazine drive company. They seem to prey on small schools. They have all these 'cool' young adults come in and make a presentation to little kids to make it seem 'cool' to basically become annoying door-to-door solicitors selling stuff that people really could live without want or could easily find if they really wanted it in the first place. I recall both my school age daughters both very excited about the drive and about the crap-tastic prizes they could win ("a free can of green slime dad, if we sell 100 subscriptions!. "). It seemed underhanded at the time, as did the process to claim your subscriptions when they arrived, which involved a certificate that came in the mail several codes that had to be entered via the web. It was almost as if they hoped people forgot to to use it, kind of like a gift card. As well, there was no cancelled check or receipt, and I have lost the original certificates (there seemed to be no reason to save them at the time duh!).

Anyway, Here was what PC Gamer found.


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.

We are unable to locate your order placed through an independent sales agency.

You will need to contact the agency using the information provided to you.

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all previous e-mail correspondence

Sincerely,

xxxxxx (cs rep #1)


So they found nothing.

Was I completely nuts? I bought a subscription, issues arrived in the mail, and then that subscription just disappeared.

However, I was still not willing to let them off the hook. I sent this in response.


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Why did I receive 2 issues of 12 issues subscription if my subscription never existed?!?!?
Was it magic?
Was it a coincidence that I bought a subscription and then for some odd reason issues started to arrive in my mail box, but for some reason OTHER THAN the fact that I bought a subscription?
Where would the account information go?
Does any of this make sense?
Does this happen often?

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


You see, there was NO REASON for me to get any issues of PC Gamer in the mail unless I had purchased a subscription, and likewise, there was NO REASON for that subscription to cease arriving. I had started to see that this was going no where. I was not willing to buy a new subscription. I figured all hope was lost. then I received this in the email.


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.

We have located a subscription for the person whose name and address appears below. Please verify if this is your subscription.

If not, please provide the information exactly as it appears on your address label, including the account number located above your name. Upon receipt, we will process the necessary adjustments.

STEVE FULTON
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxx

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all previous e-mail correspondence.

Sincerely,
(cs rep #2)


My God! They had done it. They found it! My subscription did exist. I was not crazy. There WAS a logical a reason why I was receiving issues of a PC Gamer in the mail, and it had to do with the SUBSCRIPTION I PURCHASED. This was sent by a second customer service rep (they were now naming themselves instead of just putting PC Gamer at the bottom of the message).

In my excitement, I sent this message:


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Yes! That is me.
I am that person.

Will I get any more issues?

-Steve Fulton


A couple days layer, I received this response.


To: Steve Fulton
From: PC Gamer
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

Thank you for contacting PC Gamer.

Our records indicate your subscription expired with the December 2008 issue. Would you like us to renew your subscription and send an invoice for the amount due?

The additional issues you are receiving are complimentary. If you prefer, please pass them on to a friend, school, or library.

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all previous e-mail correspondence.

Sincerely,
xxxxx (cs rep #3)


????

A 3rd customer service rep has basically taken this whole thing right back to the beginning.

And what was this about:

The additional issues you are receiving are complimentary. If you prefer, please pass them on to a friend, school, or library.

Huh? What additional issues?  I BOUGHT A #@$! SUBSCRIPTION.  Since this is yet another customer service rep, I get the feeling they keep passing my emails around the office, trying to come up with more and more humorous excuses as to why they lost my subscription!

In a way understand them.  Their job must totally suck, and if they can get some mild enjoyment out of my lost subscription, then a salute them.

However, Instead of actually getting some place, I had entered the PC Gamer subscription black hole. I checked the PC Gamer customer service site, and indeed, my record said that my subscription started November 2007, and ended Dec. 2008. It also said I filed a "Change Of Address" in November 2008. Of course, none of this was accurate at all. It was either fat-fingered (likely), or (unlikely) changed on purpose. Still not ready to give-up, I launched this final query:


To: PC Gamer
From: Steve Fulton
Subject: re: Missing Issue Question

No!!!

This was the whole point of my original email.
I bought a NEW subscription in November 2008.
I have not had a subscription for a few years prior to November 2008.
I received 2 issues, one in December, one in January.
Then my issues stopped arriving.

The issues WERE NOT complimentary. They were the FIRST issues of my NEW subscription.
There is NO REASON I would have started getting issues again, unless I had a NEW subscription. the subscription I purchased in November 2008.

Again, to summarize, I have not had a subscription to PC Gamer for several years. I bought a new subscription in November 2008. I only received 2 issues. I want the rest of my subscription.

Thanks,

Steve Fulton


No matter, I believe all hope is lost. It is no wonder these types magazines are failing. People who legitimately buy them can't even get them or read them. I've subscribed to magazines my entire life. I've probably had 100+ subscriptions of both large and small publications. In all that time, something like this has only ever happened once: right now. I'm not sure who is at fault, but it doesn't really matter. To me, game magazines are teetering over their edge of their own grave, and they themselves will give the final, necessary nudge to end it all.

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