Magazine publishing giant Time Inc. is under
investigation by the Florida attorney general's office after more
than 100 complaints that the company engaged in deceptive and
unfair business practices.
The investigation stems from consumers who say they received
solicitations for magazine subscriptions in the mail that looked
Others claim they received magazines, books, compact discs and
other merchandise they never ordered and then were billed by the
company, Assistant Attorney General Victoria Butler told the Tampa
"The theme is unauthorized charges or unauthorized merchandise
and not enough disclosure to the consumer," Butler said.
Time Inc. spokesman Peter Costiglio said the company, a unite of
AOL Time Warner, does not send bills to people who have not ordered
magazines or merchandise. "I am baffled to understand why they
would have received a bill," Costiglio said. "There's never been
any intention to mislead or confuse a potential or current
Complaints have come from all over the nation, including several
that have been forwarded by the Better Business Bureau, Butler
said. The probe is being conducted at the attorney general's
regional office in Tampa, where Time Inc.'s customer service center
One complainant, James Chester, a vice president at IBM, says
that one day he got the magazine ECompany Now in his mailbox,
without ever having ordered it. Chester told authorities he then
got bills from Time Inc. demanding a $19.98 subscription payment.
Chester says he called Time several times to explain he had not
ordered a subscription to the magazine. Deliveries stopped, but the
bills kept coming, he said.
Also, the invoices began warning his name would be put in Time's
"bad debt file," and threatened "additional collection
measures" unless he paid, Chester said.
"By the end, I thought, `This is just over the line,"' Chester
Time is reviewing the scores of complaints, and will respond to
each one, Costiglio said. Some of the cases, he said, already have