Better Business Bureau Warns of Publishers Billing Exchange

February 23, 2012
Better Business Bureau is warning magazine subscribers of Publishers Billing Exchange (PBE) after several hundred consumers allege non-delivery and refund issues. 

Complainants typically allege the company mails solicitations resembling bills to consumers who are already subscribers to national publications. Some consumers pay the company believing they are paying the actual publisher. When consumers realize they renewed through a third party and paid more than what the publisher charges, they cancel their orders and allegedly experience difficulty obtaining a refund. In some cases, complainants claim they never received the ordered publication.  
“My 90-year-old father received three solicitations in the mail and assumed they were from the actual publication,” said a Granite Bay man. “He paid all three to Publishers Billing Exchange and never got a refund for the extra two paid. He also never got the newspaper he subscribed to. When we called we were told we would receive a refund, but never did.” 

Some companies have posted notices on their websites stating they will not honor subscriptions purchased through the company. PBE claims they have contracted with a clearing house to sell the subscriptions.

The company currently has an “F” rating with Better Business Bureau serving Northern Nevada for failing to responds to ten complaints. In total, the company has generated 353 complaints in the past year. In some cases, the company responded to complaints by offering a full or partial refund. 

“I accidentally agreed to the offer not knowing it was not a bill.” said a Rancho Cordova woman. “I complained and they offered a refund. The check they sent me bounced. These guys need shut down.”

The Reno, NV address given to consumers is believed to be a mail drop along with addresses in Sierra Madre, CA; La Habra, CA; and White City, OR.  Reno BBB lists more than 20 names for the company including Lakeshore Publishing Service, Publishers Network Exchange and Global Publishers Center. 

“Solicitations like PBE’s make it important for consumers to read the fine print before agreeing to anything,” said Gary Almond, president of BBB serving Northeast California. “In this case, it is stated that the solicitation is not a bill, but it’s not stated as required by federal law and is still misleading consumers.”

United States Postal Inspection Service requires businesses mailing solicitations resembling bills or invoices to include specific disclaimers identifying it as a solicitation in at least 30 point font. The solicitation reviewed by BBB, dated September 27, 2010, did not comply with federal law. 

Better Business Bureau recommends verifying all invoices, bills or statements that are out of the ordinary by reading the fine print and speaking to the company directly.