Is this an ethical business practice?

I’m curious I know this this is a free market society in the US but is the following legal?

Business A offers a free subscription to magazine S.
You start receiving magazine S for many years taking advantage of free subscription offers for magazine S
You now have a subscription that will expire in 20 years for magazine S.

Business A starts sending you renewal notices for magazine S at a price that is higher than the subscription rate directly from magazine S and the renewal form makes you believe your subscription will end soon

Is the practice of business A ethical when they know your subscription is not going to end any time soon and the chances of magazine S being in business 20 years from now is slim

Yes my free subscriptions end in 2023

Doesn’t sound ethical to me.

Have you complained to the magazine?

You can give more details you know.

Don’t assume malice when stupidity will explain the situation. These guys are giving you over 15 years of free magazines, I wouldn’t assume their billing department has ANY idea when your subscription ends. Clearly their “free subscription” department didn’t have that info.

IMO, their billing department assumes everyone’s subscription ends within 12mo, so they automatically send out regular re-up notices.

There’s also nothing inherently wrong with them charging a higher price than the magazine does. Businesses do this all the time, repackaging another company’s product or service and marking it up. Sometimes they provide a valuable service as middleman, sometimes not, it’s up to the buyer to decide that for themselves. This is subject to the terms of their agreement with the magazine, which could easily restrict their ability to markup the price.

In general I find the ethics of magazine subscriptions to be marginal at best. The one thing you’ll almost never find on a renewal form is when your current subscription expires.

More than once over the years I’ve inadvertantly renewed the same subscription for 3 years each about 6 months apart. In other words, they sent a renewal notice to a subscription that they knew (or pace cheesesteak: should have known) still had ~3 years to run.

So I don’t find the OP’s situation unbelievable. Nor particularly ethical.
There are many trade magazines which are heavy on ads and light on editorial content which are available for free to “qualifying” people (i.e. people who fill out the survey card saying they have purchase influence/authority for whatever products the magazine is about.)

The same magazines are not above sending out renewal notices. If you happen to renew with $ so much the better for them.

Yuo can find that on the mailing label of the magazine. Looking at my stack of subscription magazines most of them are pretty straightforward in noting the expiration date; some of them are in code.

If there are false statements about when your subscription expires, I’d say that crosses the line to unethical. If it’s just, “Renew now for $300/year! $1,000 for 3 years!” I don’t find it unethical, but I do find it unappealing.

I have subscriptions to Stuff, Maxim, and Blender. These subscriptions have been started through links found on various website for free subscriptions.

Though multiple links I’ve been able to “build up” subscriptions so Maxim and Suff ended in 2023 and Blender ends in 2017.

Every 2-4 months I receive offers in the mail from a company called PBA to renew my subscription to Stuff. I called Stuff’s subscription department to ask them when my subscription ends. The agent was a little surprised to tell me June 2023. I then asked why I received a renewal form in the mail from PBA and she said that is the company I signed up with for the subscription.

So PBA knows that my subscription is not over yet but they are sending out renewal forms. I can renew for one year at a rate of 17.99 but a 1 year subscription directly though Stuff is 14.99 or two years for 19.99

Thats why I was wondering if you (general you) felt it was ethical to send out renewal forms when the subscription is not near the end of it’s time

I can’t say for certain, but I very much doubt that you can “build up” a subscription based on different free offers from different vendors.

I doubt it to the point of being 99.44% sure there is language that the offers are limited by language limiting the offer. Here are the terms and conditions of the first offer I found through a Google search for a free Maxim subscription.

Just because you filled out twenty free Maxim subscriptions doesn’t mean you have a 20 year Maxim subscription.

Ahh Boyo Jim. I have called Stuff and Maxim and have verified with their customer service representative when my subscription expires. Also my lables say June 23 which they have for over a year.

Just about any time you accept a free sample, you are inviting the company to sell you the product in some fashion. Since you seem to have expressed a very strong interest in their free samples, they are considering you a very good prospect for actually buying their magazine. It seems to me you are each somewhat humorously misinformed about the other’s intentions.

I think it’s likely Business A has no idea when your subscription ends and assumes you got a one year free subscription - thus the renewal notices. Usually the only renewal notice I take seriously is when it covers the magazines cover. Even the magazine will send you renewal notices months before your subscription is over. I understand your situation is unique and this may not apply logically, but I don’t think Business A understands your situation completely (if they did, you wouldnt be in it).

But is it ethical for Business A to offer to renew the subscription at a rate higher than the “rack” rate?

Yes, if someone is a re-seller, generally speaking they can sell for whatever they wish. So long as they don’t use use deception in their marketing.

I don’t see where it’s unethical for them to solicit a renewal, nor for them to price said renewal at a higher rate than other sources. Why would it be? Not everything that fails to be praiseworthy is unethical.

If I see you leaving the Farmers’ Market carrying a bushel of tomatos, and offer to sell you a bushel of tomatos for twice what you just paid, is that unethical? I’d say not. I’d say if you took me up on the offer it doesn’t say much for your savviness, but it’s not unethical of me to ask for the sale.

If, indeed, there is a “business A” that is completely independent of the publication, then maybe you are right. But for a long time it was the practice of TV Guide magazine to send you magazines based on a subscription, the ending date of which was printed on every label, and then begin after a very short time sending renewal notices when you had at a minimum several months left on your current subscription, and at a maximum some years. Of course they were aware of the contract that was made by one of the companies that sold subscriptions for them. My mother actually re-subscribed two or three times when she had months to go on a current subscription, because her practice was to just pay a bill when it came in. TV Guide knew there were people who operated this way and took advantage of them. That’s the major reason that I have not subscribed to their magazine in years. The practice is deliberate, and dishonest.