What? You Don’t Wanna Renew? We’ll See About That!

Wired magazine, the bible of the tech set, may have its finger on the pulse of all that’s cool. But the San Francisco publication has been using decidedly uncool tactics when it comes to getting some people to renew their subscriptions. Here is one former subscriber’s story, from sfgate.com

First came the usual letters warning McMillan, 36, that his subscription was up and that he wouldn’t get any more copies of Wired unless he ponied up some cash.

Then Wired’s correspondence took a different turn.

In May, McMillan received a letter from North Shore Agency, a leading debt-collection firm. The letter, headed “Please Respond,” said he owed $12 for his Wired subscription.

“Our objective is to clear your bill quickly and fairly,” it said. “Your payment will reinstate your subscription.”

A more assertive letter from North Shore, headed “Request for Payment,” arrived last month. “You must realize that we want you to resolve your account in the amount of $12,” it said.

“It’s probably something we shouldn’t have done,” Timko said of using the collection agency to pressure readers. “It’s not something we want to continue. ”

I arranged for McMillan and Timko to speak with one another. McMillan told me afterward that Timko apologized for the North Shore letters. McMillan said he was also offered a free subscription to Wired.

“I turned it down,” he said. “I still don’t have time to read it. But in the back of my mind, I have to wonder what might happen the next time it runs out.”