Broomfield-based magazine company to stop deceptive practices and pay $250K after misleading consumers
March 29, 2022 (DENVER) – Attorney General Phil Weiser today announced that a Broomfield-based magazine subscription company will stop its deceptive trade practices and pay $250,000 to the state of Colorado after misleading consumers into subscribing to its “Jackpot Journal.”
Mountain View Publishers sent millions of mailers nationwide, most of which appeared to announce the recipient won a significant prize or a large sum of money. 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. In fine print hidden often at the bottom and back of the mailer, however, the mailers stated the consumer was instead subscribing to a quarterly Jackpot Journal magazine. And then, once Mountain View had a consumer’s bank account or credit card information, the company signed the consumer up for an automatically renewing subscription of about $33 every three months.
A Department of Law Consumer Protection Division investigation found the average age of Colorado subscribers was almost 80 years old.
“Mountain View Publishers operates on a national level and has preyed on our country’s most vulnerable residents,” Weiser said. “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. This practice was both unfair and unconscionable, and such actions cannot be tolerated.”
A review of Mountain View’s business records showed that the company obtained over 50,000 subscribers nationwide since 2016, with over $2 million in revenue and an average of approximately $40 in charges per customer.
In one instance, a 69-year-old consumer from North Carolina stated he received a letter from Mountain View informing him that he had won over $300,000 but needed to send $2.35 to claim his prize. He sent in that sum and expected to receive his winnings. When he did not receive the money, he sent MVP $2.35 several more times in the hopes of redeeming his prize. The consumer stated that he did not realize the company was charging him for the Jackpot Journal and generally threw it away.
In today’s settlement, Mountain View agreed to stop its deceptive practices and ensure that its mailers clearly state they are being sent to the consumer for the purpose of soliciting the purchase of a magazine subscription. Mountain View must clearly state the price of the subscription, and clearly disclose that the magazine subscription automatically renews at the end of the subscription period. The settlement also requires the company to stop using pressure tactics, such as stating an offer is time-sensitive.
The company agreed to pay $250,000, which will be used for the reimbursement of the state’s actual costs and attorneys’ fees, the payment of restitution, if any, and for future consumer fraud or antitrust enforcement, consumer education, or public welfare purposes.
If you notice any potential scams, fraud, price gouging, or other attempts to take advantage of Coloradans, contact Stop Fraud Colorado at 800-222-4444 or www.StopFraudColorado.gov.