Real Secrets Trick of the Month Club...

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby AJM » 02/25/12 03:10 PM

Maybe the reason for all the lack of information is hidden within the title and premise of the project...

I could be wrong though.


Cheers

Andrew

(Now, will I or won't I?)
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Postby Pete McCabe » 02/25/12 06:13 PM

Hey MattI'm 1 cooler than you. Ha ha!
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Postby Matthew Field » 02/26/12 04:33 PM

Real Secrets threw a s#it fit about my cancelled automatic renewal. They said it was a condition of subscription. Now I've got to find out how to restore it on PayPal. Then remember to cancel at the proper time (or renew, at my option).

McCabe -- I always knew you were cooler.
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Postby AJM » 02/26/12 04:59 PM

Ok, I'm in.

But I'm not going to tell you my order number, cos it's a secret.

'I'm a member of Magic Circle, you know - in fact, I'm a member of the Secret Six.
It's so secret, I don't know who the other five are'
Tommy Cooper

Cheers

Andrew

P.S. I'll just have until next month to buy Mr Kendall's book. Incidentally, does anyone know if Kendall's on Kindle? (Boom boom)
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Postby erdnasephile » 02/26/12 05:02 PM

Matthew Field wrote:Real Secrets threw a s#it fit about my cancelled automatic renewal. They said it was a condition of subscription. Now I've got to find out how to restore it on PayPal. Then remember to cancel at the proper time (or renew, at my option).


I'm sorry to hear that, but I'm glad you reported it, Matt.

I was on the fence--I've prepaid for far too many projects from magic legends that I liked and respected. They had the best of intentions and plans, yet props were never built, and subscriptions were never fulfilled--leaving me (and others) holding the proverbial bag.

Matt's report, along with the publisher's decision to remain anonymous finally tipped me to the wait and see side.

Yes, I'll miss out on the real secrets, but since I'm going to take that $$$ and buy the Pat Page book, I imagine I'll soon be privy to plenty of secrets to keep me busy for a long time. :)

Good luck, everybody!

PS: I wanted to make it clear that my comment on what has happened to me in the past in no way reflects my feelings/beliefs regarding the named magicians associated with the project under discussion (none of whom have ever ripped me off). I just wanted to cite my past experience with others to give context to my post.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/26/12 05:07 PM

Not a word to me about cancelling the automatic renewal, which I did immediately.

I don't think it's legal to force someone into not being able to cancel an auto-renew option as a condition of purchasing something.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 02/26/12 10:08 PM

I cancelled my automatic renewal and this is what I received:

We received notice that you cancelled the automatic payment feature of your application.

Membership is, in part, based upon this traditional recurring subscription structure.

You will not be billed until the appropriate time for renewal.

Please advise whether you would like to restore this mandatory feature or would prefer to have your application for membership and fee returned in full.

The Real Secrets Team


I think it's pretty [censored] to require mandatory automatic billing.
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 02/26/12 10:35 PM

If a company engages in a business practice that I consider unethical then I do not do business with that company.

In my opinion, requiring annual automatic billing is at best "customer unfriendly" and at worst unethical. I gave some thought to signing up for this site, but not now.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 02/27/12 12:54 AM

I think it's funny that you Richard, didn't receive a similar email when you cancelled the automatic payment. Guess the adage "Never pick a fight with a guy that buys ink by the barrel" applies here.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/27/12 01:09 AM

Not only do I suspect that the mandatory automatic rebilling might be illegal, but doing it selectively would certainly seem to be.
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Postby Ted M » 02/27/12 01:17 AM

I was about to sign up, but being locked unto an auto-billed perpetual subscription is enraging.

It also doesn't speak well of the creators' confidence in their product. If it's good, customers want to renew.

This is a pig in a poke to begin with. I was going to go in for a year based on the good names of the creators involved. But a renewal does need to be earned.

Demanding this perpetual renewal is way over the line.
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Postby RobertAllen » 02/27/12 01:42 AM

RobertAllen wrote:[size:11pt] We can tell you that it is people you know and trust. People like Steve Brooks....[/size]


Sounds like that know and trust thing isn't working out so well...

The best way to sucker magicians in to something is to say it's a big secret, and to charge a high price. It never fails.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/27/12 01:53 AM

"If it's good, customers want to renew."

BINGO.
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Postby Bill Marquardt » 02/27/12 02:14 AM

Mr. Kaufman, if you have any idea who these people are, please speak with them. I just received the same email demanding that I reinstate the auto-renewal feature. Funny thing is that their email is a "do not reply" email.

I broke down and signed up based on the good names of the few magicians who have been named and now I feel like a fool. Do they really expect us to sign up for life? They made a point of saying we could cancel the subscription if we were not happy with the product, so I cannot see their point in making autopay a requirement.

If I were to cancel autopay after six months, would they revoke my membership then?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/27/12 02:41 AM

I didn't see anything in their terms requiring that you commit to paying for several years as a requirement to receive the first year. I have never heard of a business that required auto-renewal for multiple years (rather than simply selling you a multiple year subscription) in order to subscribe for its first year.

I don't know who the people are in charge. I just know some of the contributors, but none of them have discussed any of this with me.

If they had said upfront that we MUST subscribe for two years at a cost of $288, and the second year's portion won't be billed until the end of the first year, then this wouldn't be happening. But they realize, it would seem (and rightfully so), that seeing a figure of $288 is going to put some folks off.

Most of use who've sent the money would probably go for a second year without thinking twice if they deliver on their promises regarding the quality of the material, but removing our choice to renew for the second year seems like a bad psychological business decision. Suppose you don't have the $144 to spare in a year? You've lost your job? Spouse lost a job. Who knows?
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Postby Bill Marquardt » 02/27/12 02:51 AM

If I understand their email correctly, they are saying that my Paypal payment will not be processed until I reinstate automatic renewal. I am guessing they see that as their way out of a dispute. Regardless, unless they alter their policy, I will initiate a formal complaint with Paypal and encourage others to do the same.
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Postby AJM » 02/27/12 03:21 AM

Given the recent comments I've just cancelled my recurring payment.

They can have a year's subscription from me or none at all.

Their choice.

Andrew
Last edited by AJM on 02/27/12 03:22 AM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: typo
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Postby Bill Marquardt » 02/27/12 03:27 AM

Sorry to keep posting, but I want to correct a misstatement on my part. Apparently the "do not reply" comment was part of the Paypal message that was copied into the email from the Real Secrets team and did not refer to their email. I have replied to them and await their response.

it isn't easy spending $144.00 these days. I can remember when businesses wanted to make money.
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Postby mrgoat » 02/27/12 06:11 AM

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck and smells like a duck...
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Postby AJM » 02/27/12 07:57 AM

Yes, I agree.

Having now received 'the e-mail' after cancelling the recurring payment option earlier, I shall be telling them to duck off shortly.

A.
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Postby PickaCard » 02/27/12 08:39 AM

Wow.

I would hate to have to make a living selling to magicians.

I have subscribed for a year with renewal. The automated email from Real Secrets states that they will make every attempt to satisfy us.

I have no concern that if I am not satisfied that I will be able to cancel before the automatic renewal kicks in.

Either jump on board or not. Don't spend your time raining on my parade before it even starts.
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Postby mrgoat » 02/27/12 09:50 AM

Yeah. imagine magicians discussing a new thing and being sceptical because many many have been burnt from similar things in the past.

Shame on us all.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 02/27/12 09:55 AM

PickaCard wrote:Either jump on board or not. Don't spend your time raining on my parade before it even starts.


If you want your parade to be bathed in constant sunshine, then don't read or research anything your about to purchase or undertake.

I will, however, give my honest opinion of a product or company when applicable - both good and bad.

Making automatic billing of a product or service is at the least bad business, and at the worst illegal. I certainly believe selectively applying the condition is illegal.

This seems to me, as a friend of mine put it, a lame attempt to create an annuity for themselves, not based on quality but on peoples natural but unfortunate habit of forgetfulness.
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Postby mrgoat » 02/27/12 10:39 AM

Jeff Eline wrote:
If you want your parade to be bathed in constant sunshine, then don't read or research anything your about to purchase or undertake.


To be fair, I imagine threads like this would be swiftly deleted at the cafe, so he could hang out there.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/27/12 11:39 AM

The only problem from my point of view is the "quiet" way in which they've made it mandatory to subscribe for a minimum of two years.

Either tell us we have to subscribe for two years or don't make us subscribe for two years.

And I'm only using "two" years as an example. What if I wanted to cancel the automatic payment during year two and am told I can't do that--it has to continue for year three or I won't get the rest of year two?
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Postby Pete McCabe » 02/27/12 11:55 AM

I don't understand. In 11 months, if I don't want to renew, I cancel then. I appreciate that this is not customer-friendly, but in what way is it mandatory for me to subscribe for 2 years?
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Postby Steve Bryant » 02/27/12 12:02 PM

If you don't subscribe for two years, then you might not learn the secret value of that stamp you got the first year.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/27/12 12:02 PM

The reason companies do auto-renewals is because customers forget to renew. However, most people also forget to cancel if they wanted to, so it works both ways.

By making auto-renewal compulsory, companies are betting that you'll forget to cancel.
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Postby PickaCard » 02/27/12 12:38 PM

I doubt the people who are whinning about auto renewal will forget to cancel as they will get a monthly reminder in the mail.

As for me, I prefer to not miss out on any of the months if it is any good. If it sucks I will probably ask for the balance of my money back half way through the year.

I am betting I will be satisfied.
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Postby J-Mac » 02/27/12 12:55 PM

I would guess that they dont want Automatic Renewal removed ever. This is, unfortunately, common with most online subscriptions to which I have subscribed. Also, there was a time when certain subscriptions did not have anyway to remove the Automatic part on PayPal; I think that the option to remove that is a relatively recent addition to PayPal.

Another example is Dropbox. They are even more of a pain in the ass about this. Not only do they set you up for automatic renewal when you purchase a "Pro" subscription, but they do not send any notifications at all; nothing telling you your subscription is about to renew, and nothing telling you that they charged you for another year. If you dont remember on your own you dont see the charge coming. BTW, they do this whether you use PayPal or your credit card.

When I first discovered automatic renewal subscriptions, there were some things I allowed to stay automatic, and some I dropped immediately! Depends on how much I trust the vendor. Most customers though use "How bad do I want this?" as their criteria for allowing the automatic renewal flag.

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Postby Ted M » 02/27/12 01:26 PM

My major issue is that the seller demands a HUGE amount of trust from the customers:

- Seller remains anonymous
- Seller won't describe what is being sold
- Seller demands customers not describe what they've received

AND the seller GIVES ZERO TRUST BACK to the customers, not trusting them to renew without being locked into auto-renewal.

If we give that much trust to the seller, do we not deserve some trust in return?
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Postby mrgoat » 02/27/12 02:27 PM

All this being said, it is PAINFULLY easy to chargeback a credit card/paypal purchase. So if it is even vaguely not as advertised, you would be able to get a full refund.

Although, the whole thing smells so bad to me I won't be bankrolling his startup.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/27/12 03:23 PM

Here's the text of the second link Gary posted, which is a general release from the Iowa Attorney General's office and is public record:

Iowa Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General
Release Tuesday, March 21, 2006.
Time Inc. is Required to Reform its Magazine Sales Practices

States were especially concerned with Time Inc.'s automatic renewal procedures, which allegedly resulted in consumers being charged for unwanted magazines.

Time Inc. has agreed to change several key marketing and billing practices in the wake of State Attorney Generals' concerns that Time was billing consumers or charging their credit cards for unwanted magazine subscriptions.

"One of our top concerns was that Time Inc. quietly initiated an automatic renewal method without clearly notifying consumers that they had to cancel a subscription if they didn't want it renewed," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said.

"Some consumers' subscriptions were renewed despite their desire to let them end, and then some consumers faced heavy-handed collection efforts by Time Inc. when they refused to pay."

The States alleged that the automatic renewal method altered a long-standing industry practice of subscriptions being renewed at the end of a subscription period only if the customer affirmatively requested a renewal.

Under an agreement finalized today with a total of 23 states:

Time Inc. will clearly give consumers the opportunity for the next five years to affirmatively indicate whether they want the automatic renewal option when subscriptions are scheduled to expire. Time will remind customers in writing before the end of a subscription period of the automatic renewal term, of their right to cancel the subscription, and of the procedure for cancellation.
Time Inc. will honor all requests to cancel subscriptions as soon as reasonably possible. If customers are charged for magazines they did not order, Time will refund the subscription price.
Time Inc. will not mail solicitations to consumers that resemble bills, invoices or statements of accounts due.
Time Inc. will reform its billing and collection practices regarding threats to a consumer's credit standing. Time Inc. will not refer to a "bad debt file," a "consumer credit index" or similar terms that imply or represent that a consumer's debt will be reported to a credit reporting agency. In addition, Time will not submit unpaid accounts of automatic renewal customers for third party collections. Time will not represent that it intends to take legal action against a customer unless legal action is imminent.
Time Inc. will refund $4.3 million to more than 108,000 eligible consumers who made payments for magazine subscriptions that were automatically renewed between 1998 and May of 2004. Time Inc. also will pay $4.5 million to the States for their costs of the case and for consumer protection litigation and education. States said that in addition to the important reforms in Time's sales practices, the settlement serves to return money to consumers and to penalize Time for conduct the States argued violated consumer fraud laws.

In Iowa, 1,574 consumers will be eligible for a total of $61,636.77 in restitution. Within three months, Time Inc. will send refund letters and claim forms approved by the States directly to consumers who are eligible. (Consumers are identified in Time Inc. records and do not need to contact Attorney General offices to qualify for a refund.) Time must send the forms in an envelope that clearly says "Refund Offer Enclosed."

Time Inc. publishes TIME Magazine, Sports Illustrated, People, Fortune, Money, Entertainment Weekly, and many other magazines. According to its web site, it publishes over 150 magazines worldwide, and two out of three U.S. adults read a Time Inc. magazine every month.
Additional information on the Time Inc. agreement with the States:

The agreement with the States is called an "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance." It was reached between Time Inc. and the Attorneys General of AK, CA, DE, FL, HA, IL, IA, ME, MD, MI, MO, NV, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, VA, WV, and WI. [The "Assurance".]

Time Inc. denied the States' allegations but agreed to provide clear and conspicuous disclosures to consumers concerning all of the material terms for automatic subscription renewals, and agreed to other terms of the "Assurance."

Regarding collection practices, the States argued that Time Inc. sometimes used heavy-handed collection practices that threatened the credit standing of consumers who did not fall in line, even though many of those consumers understandably felt that they were being billed for a subscription they had never purchased.

Regarding solicitations that appeared to look like invoices, the States argued that Time Inc. used direct mail solicitations formatted similarly to its invoices, which may have violated Federal and state laws that prohibit such solicitations without certain conspicuous disclosures that an item is not an invoice. The "Assurance" notes that the States believe that Time engaged in business conduct that had the capacity to be deceptive and misleading in violation of state consumer protection laws. For example, a busy consumer -- or sometimes a small business, such as a doctor's office or dentist's office -- might receive what looks like an invoice for a magazine, and pay it, even though it was in fact a solicitation.
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Postby Marco Pusterla » 02/27/12 03:51 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Here's the text of the second link Gary posted, which is a general release from the Iowa Attorney General's office and is public record:


Is not RealSecrets.org registered in Canada? A domain check shows that they are registered using an anonymous registrar in Canada. In this case, I'm not sure how US laws will protect people who buy a Canadian service... But the Canadian registrar may simply be convenient by providing good anonymity and being foreign... unlike GoDaddy who provides good anonymity but is American...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/27/12 05:05 PM

I just received a long email from the "Real Secrets Team" that, at the end, told me to turn auto-renewal back on or get off the boat.
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 02/27/12 05:19 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:I just received a long email from the "Real Secrets Team" that, at the end, told me to turn auto-renewal back on or get off the boat.

It's no wonder that the purveyors of this new project choose to remain anonymous.

I can imagine it would be quite embarrassing to have one's actual name connected with such a tone deaf excuse for customer service.
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Postby mrgoat » 02/27/12 05:34 PM

Marco Pusterla wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Here's the text of the second link Gary posted, which is a general release from the Iowa Attorney General's office and is public record:


Is not RealSecrets.org registered in Canada? A domain check shows that they are registered using an anonymous registrar in Canada. In this case, I'm not sure how US laws will protect people who buy a Canadian service... But the Canadian registrar may simply be convenient by providing good anonymity and being foreign... unlike GoDaddy who provides good anonymity but is American...


Their hosting is in the US

Bluehost Inc.
1958 South 950 East
Provo, UT 84606
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Postby mrgoat » 02/27/12 05:34 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:I just received a long email from the "Real Secrets Team" that, at the end, told me to turn auto-renewal back on or get off the boat.


And are you still sailing with them?
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/27/12 05:48 PM

It doesn't matter where they are from. They have no choice but to obey the laws of this country and each state if they want to conduct business here. Apparently breaking the laws of 23 statesincluding several of the most populated (therefore the largest pool of possible subscribers)does not bother this mysterious group.

Perhaps it will bother those who might subscribe as well as those who might contribute.

Dustin

PS: Richard, since Maryland is on the list of states under which this agreement with Time was reached (so, by extension, among the states that have specific statutes against this practice) you might consider forwarding that email to your Attorney Generals office. I would also copy the US Attorney General if indeed this is a foreign entity.
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