Guy Spinello has been a subscriber to the Rockford Register Star for decades. The owner of Spinello Locksmiths says it’s a news source he’s trusted, until he came across a hidden cost.
“I just feel like it’s real sleazy,” said Spinello.
He’s says the magazine “815” published by Gatehouse Media is distributed quarterly in the Rockford Register Star Sunday newspaper, but with a hidden cost.
“They’re going to charge us each $5.50 each quarter for that magazine even though we never ordered it, or had any knowledge of it,” he said.
The fine print on the 13th page of the magazine reads in part–“Your account has been adjusted quarterly to reflect the magazine charge, which has the effect of shortening your newspaper subscription expiration date.”
$5.50 coming out of subscriber’s pockets every quarter, which prompted Spinello to reach out to the paper for answers.
“The newspaper says well yea we are charging for that,” he said.
The practice is called ‘opt-out,’ which forces a customer to decline to pay for a product, rather than giving them the option to sign up to pay for one they want.
While Spinello calls it sleazy, is the practice illegal?
We reached out to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Agency. They tell Eyewitness News in a statement–“We have not yet received any complaints about this specific issue, but all businesses should be aware that they cannot bind consumers to new contract terms and require additional payments without obtaining the consumers’ express agreement.”
When we reached out to Gatehouse Media they responded to the accusations by saying in a statement that they value their customers and suggest those with concerns to call customer service, but Spinello believes that’s not enough.
“I want them to make a statement to the public that they are charging for it and I want it to be big enough so the public understands it. Not hidden is some little corner in the magazine,” he said.
For anyone wanting to opt out of the magazine you can call the customer service number at 815-987-1200.
You can request to be taken off the billing list and prevent further charges on your account.