Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Odd experience subscribing to a magazine

This is not necessarily a direct security related post, but it is based in the mindset that I have when I am shopping and a lesson that I learned the easy way.
I recently subscribed online to a magazine I had been reading for a while. I am not going to name the magazine because the issue was with perception and not with anything that they were doing. The magazine subscription is $49 per year in US dollars, the publisher and subscription company are based in Europe and use local currency for the exchange rate.
No where in the process of setting up my subscription did I notice anything that indicated that the transaction would be in anything other than US dollars. Though my first clue should have been that the name of the processing company included the name of the country in which the publisher is based. I may have completely missed a notice related to this, but I have gone back through the process and do not see anything related to this.
What brought the exchange rate to my attention was when I was entering receipts later in the day, I took the print out from the purchase and was shocked to see that the amount was not $49 US but 114 (Local Currency to Publisher). I made a couple of calls to the New York location for the magazine and they explained that it was local currency and not US dollars.
I was a bit concerned that I had been ripped off but after verifying that the exchange rate was correct. I let the matter drop.
Then I started thinking about it. This was a legitimate purchase, how easy would it have been for them to bump up the amount they were taking from the account.
So I started reviewing what I had done to ensure that my transaction was not going to go bad.
  1. Know who you are dealing with - don't buy things from a retailer you know nothing about - do research - Google is your friend.
  2. Do not use your actual credit card number - just about every bank has an online feature to allow you to generate a temporary card for use on line. Use this service.
  3. Read your receipts - this is the one thing I know that I need to do a better job of, pay attention to what the final total you agreed to pay ended up being.
  4. Follow up with your bank - check to make sure that if you have made a purchase at a sight that makes you uncomfortable, check your statements or better yet log on to you credit cards website regularly and look for charges you do not recognize.
  5. Trust your instincts - if you don't think you should be buying it there, don't. If it costs a dollar more to get it from a major retailer, but saves you time and money by not endangering your finances, then the dollar is worth it.
Hopefully some of that will help someone.

Be safe, shop smart