Monday, April 19, 2004

In my opinion, one of the best things in America is its abundance of cheap magazines, and they're even cheaper when you subscribe. In China, most people buy magazines off the newsstands since each issue is an expense, not like the few dollars each sells for here. Even subcriptions don't offer much discount. Better yet, in America, not every magazine cover is graced with the image of a pretty woman, an epidemic for Chinese magazines. The content could be on aeronautic engineering but the cover would have a starlet looking poutily at the camera.

So with Dan Ming's help (since I don't have a local checking account yet), I got myself a few beauty and celebrity magazine subscriptions. It was only a few days after I got the first issue that I got renewal notices; I've heard about the aggressive marketing practices used here so I threw them away with a satisfied sense of being welcomed into the American consumer mecca. I may not have a green card, but my money ensures I will be counted as a valid member of America.

My glee didn't have a chance to settle, as an officical debt collection letter came from a company called National Credit Collection Agency today. The English is the kind that remains polite though you can sense the venom beneath, kind of like a written version of going for visas at the American Consulate (they must hire the most sadistic people to work there). It said I was delinquent on my standing with a magazine. I didn't want to make Dan Ming shell out another 15 dollars when I know it's paid in full already, and the vicious tone of the writing made me search on this "agency.'

Good thing I did.

The agency has been sending letters like this to lots of people, many apparently paid right away, and a few were clever enough to do some research and found out the truth. There is a class action lawsuit pending against it. I feel smart, and very grateful to the internet.