By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming will receive a settlement of $500,000 in a lawsuit alleging two companies targeted customers nationwide by selling overpriced magazine subscriptions using deceptive mailers designed to look like renewal notices for customers’ legitimate existing subscriptions.
Wyoming joined Colorado in this lawsuit against Atlantic Publishers and Publishers Partnership Services and will also receive $500,000 in the settlement.
Both states’ attorney general offices, as well as the Better Business Bureau, received hundreds of complaints, mainly from people over 60, about the mailers.
One customer, a 94-year-old woman, reported to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office that she sent more than $60 to Atlantic Publishers when she received what she thought was a renewal notice for her “Time” magazine subscription, but when she received the real renewal notice the next month, she called the magazine and was told they had not received her payment.
Colorado filed a lawsuit in November 2019, and Wyoming filed its lawsuit in January of this year.
The lawsuits stated that from 2016 through 2019, Atlantic Publishers Group and Publishers Partnership Services sent millions of these deceptive mailers to consumers across the country.
“Overcharging and misleading older consumers into thinking that the mailers were renewal notices is unconscionable,” said Colorado AG Phil Weiser. “We are pleased that we were able to work with Wyoming to stop this practice that caused financial stress for many consumers and hurt the operations of legitimate magazine publishers.”
Because Atlantic Publishers operated out of Colorado, and Publishers Partnership Services operated out of Wyoming, people from across the U.S. filed complaints with the attorneys general offices in both states.
“This settlement highlights the value of interstate coordination,” said Wyoming AG Bridget Hill. “Working together as equal partners, Colorado and Wyoming have halted and held accountable those whom we allege used our states as home base for misleading consumers nationwide.”
Under the terms of the joint settlement, the alleged organizers of this scam, Dennis Simpson and John Ackermann, and their companies will pay $500,000 to each of the attorneys general offices to support consumer protection efforts in Colorado and Wyoming.
They are also banned from operating magazine subscription businesses in both states and from sending the deceptive mailers to Colorado and Wyoming consumers.