Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the $250,000 is being paid as part of a settlement.
Mountain View Publishers also provided the following statement: “Mountain View Publishers is proud of its unrivaled publications that are enjoyed by its subscribers for their timely, enjoyable and informative content. The company cooperated fully with the Attorney General’s staff and many of the challenged practices were discontinued voluntarily some time ago. Mountain View Publishers voluntarily agreed to the settlement, resolving the matter without any finding or admission of wrongdoing, in order to avoid the distractions and costs associated with litigation. While it disagrees with the Attorney General’s allegations and is disappointed with the office’s failure to present an accurate and complete picture, such as Mountain View Publishers’ high rate of customer satisfaction, the company is nevertheless pleased to put this matter behind it so that it can continue to deliver fun, entertaining and useful products that its customers love.”
DENVER (KDVR) — A Broomfield-based company will pay $250,000 in a settlement with the Colorado’s Attorney General’s Office over allegations of deceptive practices.
According to documents released by the Broomfield Combined Courts, the settlement with Mountain View Publishers, a magazine subscription company, is regarding language and tactics to get its subscribers to sign up for the “Jackpot Journal.”
Additionally, court documents detailed that the mailer failed to emphasize its true purpose, which was to get the recipient to sign up for the Jackpot Journal, which was an auto-renew subscription that charged the subscriber $33 every three months.
Fine print, hidden on the bottom of the back of the frequently updated mailer, detailed what the recipient was actually signing up for. Once a signature and bank account or credit card were obtained by the company, the automatic renewal process was initiated, hitting the sometimes clueless consumer with hidden quarterly withdrawals from their personal accounts.
In a statement, Attorney General Phil Weiser said “the mailers used misleading and deceptive language to persuade consumers that they could claim this money if they signed the mailer and returned a small fee or, in some cases, shipping and handling.”
How Mountain View Publishers countered complaints
An investigation conducted by the Department of Law Consumer Protection Division uncovered that the median age of these subscribers within Colorado was 80 years old. Since 2016, the publication has garnered 50,000 subscribers across the nation, during which time it racked up $2 million in revenue.
“The company used underhanded tactics to convince recipients that they were going to receive a large sum of money if they sent a small sum back when in reality they only received a magazine subscription they did not ask for,” said Weiser. “This practice was both unfair and unconscionable, and such actions cannot be tolerated.”
According to court documents, the adult children of some of these subscribers, who took over their parents’ finances, discovered the reoccurring quarterly charges that had, in some cases, gone unnoticed.
An example of this was mentioned in the court documents. A 69-year-old North Carolina man said he received a letter from Mountain View Publishers, informing him that he had won a $300,000 prize. All he needed to do to claim it was send in $2.35 with the signed form. Once he did not receive his winnings, he sent in several more letters with $2.35.
At the same time he was trying to claim his prize, the unnamed North Carolina resident was also being charged for the Jackpot Journal subscription that he unknowingly signed up for.
Also detailed in court documents was Mountain View Publishers’ customer service representatives script. The first question on the script is “Did I Win,” the answer to which was not the answer pointing them toward a multi-hundred thousand dollar prize.
UP4GRAB$: Mountain View Publishers’ new venture
Before this settlement was reached back on March 15, Mountain View Publishers launched another subscription service, and what their Facebook page called an “attractive companion to Jackpot Journal.”
If you have fallen victim to or notice any potential scams, fraud, price gouging or other attempts to take advantage of the less able and the vulnerable, then please contact Stop Fraud Colorado at 800-222-444 or www.StopFraudColorado.gov.