“On most days, I like to consider myself a savvy shopper. This is why I feel particularly foolish about being lured in to purchasing a magazine subscription under the false pretense that it would include a lovely beach bag, large enough in size to fit the appropriate beach supplies. The magazine I subscribed to is a popular women’s fitness magazine, so in my usual “smart shopping” process, I deducted that it would be reasonable to purchase this magazine as I am trying to get in to shape. It was also priced at just $1 dollar a month for one year. What could be more reasonable than buying a $4.99 per issue magazine for just $1 a month!? However, the real reason I got the magazine was the offer of a free beach bag (worth $50!) with the purchase of a yearlong subscription. I perused the advertisement, gazing at the shiny new blue and white bag. It was pictured right next to a copy of the magazine; towering over the glossy pages making the bag appear large and luxurious.
Yesterday, after a month of anticipation, the bag arrived. The excitement! I tore through the packaging like a 6 year old on Christmas. As shreds of plastic flew by my head, my excitement spiraled in to disappointment. The beach “bag” stands at 4 inches tall, 4 inches wide and about 2 inches deep. To make things worse, not only is the strap too small to fit over my shoulder, but the material is so thin that I’d even be afraid to throw my keys in it, as I’m positive they would pierce right through the side.
Now, I could go all “Michelle Tanner” on the magazine provider by protesting (ie. The episode of Full House where Michelle is supposed to get a large Rigby the Rhino doll and ends up with a small plastic toy, then protests at Rigby’s show. Season 7 Episode 9, if you’re interested.) But plane tickets from Denver to their offices in New York can be pricey, and protests do take a lot of work. So instead I will take this as a lesson. I simply should have been more informed and shouldn’t have based my decision on an assumption. The advertisement never actually said that this was supposed to be a large beach bag. I could have saved $12 if I had just called the magazine’s customer service and found out the dimensions on the bag. I wouldn’t purchase a $5000 HP Server without speaking to a PEI engineer or Account Manager and finding out how much hard drive space it had, would I? Nope; I most certainly would not. As consumers, it’s our responsibility to find out all of the important facts. So we need to be sure, whether we’re purchasing magazines or anything else, that we have all of our questions answered and are holding the right people responsible: ourselves.
-Erika Larson, PEI
A link to consumer resources and information: