Mountain View Publishers reaches $250K settlement over deceptive practices

Mountain View Publishers, a Broomfield-based company, agreed to pay a $250,000 fine and stop using deceptive magazine-subscription practices after years of misleading customers, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Tuesday.

The attorney general’s office and the magazine publisher reached a settlement Tuesday morning, following accusations that the company had violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act and used fraudulent practices when sending out mailers nationwide. The flyers falsely promised large cash winnings to those who sent in small fees, but instead unknowingly subscribed consumers to Jackpot Journal, a magazine published by the company.

Weiser’s office said the mailers only outlined that the consumer was subscribing to the quarterly magazine in the fine print at the bottom of the page. Using the credit card information provided, Mountain View Publishers automatically renewed the subscription for $33 every three months.

The mailers brought in more than 50,000 subscribers and more than $2 million in revenue to Mountain View Publishers.

An investigation by the Department of Law Consumer Protection Division found the average age of consumers who sent in money to be almost 80.

“This practice was both unfair and unconscionable, and such actions cannot be tolerated,” Weiser said in a press release.

A 69-year-old man in North Carolina was one of those deceived by the mailers. The attorney general’s office said he was told in a letter from Mountain View Publishers that he had won more than $300,000 and needed to send a $2.35 fee to claim the reward. He never received the cash and continued to send the fee in an attempt to get the prize, never realizing he was subscribing to Jackpot Journal.

In customer service scripts from Mountain View Publishers, employees were told to tell customers calling about the charges on their bank accounts that they had signed a subscription request and that the order was received “in good faith.”

In addition to the $250,000 fine, Mountain View Publishers agreed to clearly label mailers with the price and purpose of the advertisement and to stop deceptive practices.

A message left for Mountain View Publishers was not immediately returned.

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