Subscription Magazines from... whom?
February 9, 2021 7:47 PM   Subscribe

A friend in the Seattle area has been receiving subscription magazines in the mail, addressed to names they don't recognize but with their home address. They have owned this house for roughly a decade and this is a fairly new occurrence.

They've been receiving Car & Driver for a while addressed to Mrs X, and now they're also getting People addressed to Mrs Y. They also have received a couple of inexpensive items that they didn't order (a compact mirror and a solar powered USB charger) but I think I've read about that and it's a different issue.

Can anyone explain why they are receiving magazines for fictional residents, and are they going to get billed for this if they take no action? Is there a one-step way to prevent new subscriptions or might they need to address each one as it happens in the future? Many thanks.
posted by happy_cat to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could it be that there is a similar street, say they live on 80th Ave NE and it was supposed to be 80th Ave NW or SE or something? I had a similar weirdness a while ago, where I lived on N Avenue (as in, just the letter N), but a lot of terrible shipping software force-corrected that to North avenue, and instead of being delivered to me, many packages were returned to the sender as not deliverable. Maybe there's an Avenue / Drive / Court / Circle thing happening here?
posted by xedrik at 7:53 PM on February 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

I agree. I do not think these are fictional people but real people having trouble getting their address correct in whatever system they're entering the information in. It just so happens to match your address and the items are being sent to you.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 7:57 PM on February 9, 2021

Best answer: Also, I doubt your friend would get billed for anything. Most likely it's the addressee who have been paying for their subscriptions and items and not receiving them. Who knows how they've been trying to fix the issue on their end.

I would start by reporting this to USPS. At the very leasst the addressee is not at the the address on the label and you can inform them of that. It may not fix everything right away but that's something your friend can try on their end.
posted by NotTheRedBaron at 8:02 PM on February 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

I lived in a house. Five years after I moved in I started getting The Economist for the previous tenant. He'd worked for a company that we surmised paid for it - their name was on the address label - and it came for three years and stopped. I suspect that either there was an internal screwup or he went back to work for them and they renewed it without thinking. The company was one I didn't like at all, so I didn't mind their buying me a magazine subscription.
Computers have long memories, and organizations that deliver millions of things a month do so without a lot of human oversight.
posted by AugustusCrunch at 8:09 PM on February 9, 2021

A couple years ago we started getting three (3) different magazines, all addressed to someone who moved away no later than 2008 (we bought in 2013). My guess was that it might have been an "oh no, my airline miles are expiring" thing (which I had done once), and they just hadn't confirmed their address before submitting. We thought the magazines would only last a couple months before that person straightened things out. One subscription expired after a few months, but we still get the other two. We've gotten a lot of weird mail addressed to people who lived in our house before 2008, but the three magazine subscriptions were the weirdest. I've given up on writing "addressee unknown" or trying to engage the postal inspector. The magazines and any other mail not addressed to us now go straight into the recycling.
posted by fedward at 9:23 PM on February 9, 2021

Seattle's street numbering system lends itself to the kind of errors xedrik describes.

(signed, a person who moved here)
posted by doift at 9:23 PM on February 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Car & Driver is a title that frequently shows up in "sign up/buy this/fill out a survey and pick from these magazines for free!" offers so it may not be actually costing the person anything, and may explain why if there was no cost they didn't put much effort into the address (or deliberately incorrect to avoid further junkmail as free offers often bring with)
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:03 AM on February 10, 2021

My mom likes to do that thing where she gets Consumer Reports, and around the holidays they say if she renews her subscription, she can gift someone a free year of Consumer Reports, so she gifts it to me. My mom is also not great about knowing my address. It's possible you're getting gifted subscriptions from someone like my mom.
posted by jabes at 6:59 AM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Many years ago, my brother gave my son a magazine subscription, Men's Health or similar. It would not end, and we started getting Golf magazine, Wired, others, well after my son had moved out. No payment was being made. I just kept calling and canceling; this often had to go through a 3rd party the magazine would tell me about. I think they might benefit from showing more 'subscribers' and getting paid more for ads.
posted by theora55 at 7:50 AM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

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