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Railfan Trip Reports > Kalmbach's poor taste...


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Date: 09/21/07 08:17
Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: Chicagoboy

Am I over reacting?

I sure hate to see an icon like Trains Magazine with its rich history succumb to the cheap advertising/marketing tricks of our confused age.

Here they are sending out unsolicited DVDs using the same sucker techniques used by the old "Columbia Record Club" and The Musical Heritage Society. They send the "Free" DVD or CD and then the receiver discovers that if you keep it you'll start getting them automatically. What's buried in the depth of the colorful narrative about how wonderful the content is is that you'll keep getting them in the mail forever, and have a limited amount of time to either send the thing back or pay for each one you receive. Wait 'til you miss a deadline and start getting the dun notices! The only real beneficiary from these schemes is the Post Office.

It's a marketing ploy I hoped had gone away, and in my view beneath the dignity of David P. Morgan's TRAINS Magazine we've come to depend on so. If they're that desperate to make money maybe they ought to raise the subscription price again. Anything but resorting to a form of trickery that will ensnare the unsuspecting.

This "Valued Subscriber" is offended; anyone else, or is it just me?

Bill



Date: 09/21/07 08:24
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: milwrdfan

Model Railroader did the same thing about a year or so ago. They sent out a "free" DVD, and then gave you the opportunity to return a card to continue getting the other DVDs in the series. In the small print, it said that you were under no obligation to return the free DVD, but they requested that you do, in order that someone else might enjoy it.

I think the general consensus at that time was that it was a free unsolicited DVD, and that there was no obligation to return it. I did get a few letters from Kalmbach asking me to return the DVD, but since it was unsolicited I finally responded as such, and they never bothered me again.

I would guess this is the same sort of thing. Basically, I believe the laws dictate that if you are sent something in the mail which was unsolicited (like this DVD), you are under no obligation to pay for it or return it. Now if you return the card asking to receive more, then all bets are off. :-)



Date: 09/23/07 13:26
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: CNJRoss

The DVD is accompanied by a letter with 4 Q & A from Customer Service Supervisor Tracey Pederson. Answer #3 says " . . . Because you didn't order it, you could consider it a gift. But we appreciate your returning it, . . ."

Somewhere either in the US Postal regulations or US Code there is language the makes anything sent to you "unsolicited" a gift that need not be returned. If you once subscribe, then you would be obligated to pay for any DVDs not returned.

I ignored Model Railroaders repeated requests for return of the prior offering, and will likely do the same again.



Date: 09/23/07 13:53
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: Chicagoboy

I appreciate the replies - my real concern is not the published but convoluted means by which you extract yourself from this scheme (a'la Columbia Record Club), but rather my disgust that TRAINS has to resort to this kind of thing. The mere fact that there's postal regulations about it ought to say something.

I wish I thought everyone read all that printed stuff (except the glossy descriptions) but I'll bet they don't, and many, I'm sure, will be getting some unexpected mail.

On the other hand, based on the paucity of replies to this thread I guess most don't share my concerns. Could be I'm a product of a different generation!

Thanks, guys.

Bill



Date: 09/23/07 18:53
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: loco4501

Add me to the list of "concerned long-time subscribers" (since 1971). I am still trying to decide just what to do with the DVD. I am not at all pleased by Kalmback dumping this into my lap...
RJ



Date: 09/23/07 22:16
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: DelMonteX

While I agree that marketing tactic leaves a lot to be desired, it's not as bad as has been described.

You must reply to continue receiving DVD's. Bullet Point #2, says ".. return the Reply Form with your payment and you're automatically enrolled...."

#3 "... Because you didn't order it, you could consider it a gift. But we appreciated your returning it..."

I haven't decided if I'm going to watch it or not, but I'm not returning it. I didn't ask for and I consider it to be just like any other junk mail advertising. If they don't get a satisfactory response, they'll stop.

So, if you don't like the tactic, don't respond in any way.

Steve Carter
Gig Harbor, WA
My Photography



Date: 09/24/07 00:39
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: retengr

I stopped my subscription to Trains when they decided that it was not worth a wrapper. I got too
many copies that had been damaged either by water, torn or soiled and although they would replace
the damaged copy, I decided that it wasn't worth the bother.
If I were to receive something like a DVD with out my request for same, I would consider it a
gift and would neither acknowledge nor return it under any circumstances.
s



Date: 09/24/07 06:52
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: SCLFan

I received mine this past Saturday. I also find this in "poor taste," especially since I did not ask for it. I do find it humorous that if you do return the DVD, they ask that you return only the DVD, and "keep, recycle, or discard" the hard plastic DVD case they sent.



Date: 09/24/07 15:02
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: RERNYC

When I received this DVD in the mail last week I called the Kalmbach Customer Relations Department. My point was that this was a sleazy tactic and a blemish on an over 50 year relationship. I was upset and said a second occurrence would force me to consider cancelling subscriptions to five magazines. They were professional and understanding. The rep said she would remove my name from the list provided to the DVD affiliate and to enjoy the DVD with their compliments. Rob



Date: 09/24/07 15:41
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: Chicagoboy

Boy; Good for you! Wish I'd done that! As I said in the very first post that kind of sleaze may work for the marketing department, but not for me! I learned YEARS ago that nothing is "Free".

Thanks for the post.

Bill



Date: 09/24/07 19:46
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: CPAlburtis

Just wanted to offer a differing opinion on this: Thank you Kalmbach! You would have thought it was Christmas Morning at my house when I got home from work on Friday. My sons (ages 6 and 3) saw the TRAINS box in the mail and couldn't wait for Dad to get home so they could open it. They have probably watched it 10 times already. It is a great addition to their ever growing Railroad DVD collection. 50 + if not more. We'll take any Railroad DVD for free.
The model Railroader DVD is still shows up from time to time as well. We didn't order either, but they are put to good use on long trips. I won't hear a peep out of the kids on the way to East Broad Top in two weeks. I'll probably call Trains and have them send me more. Of course I'll be sure to thank them for their 'gift' before ordering #2. After all, isn't that what it's all about hook 'em while their young and they'll be life readers. (Both of mine have been looking at Trains since they were old enough to flip the pages). If you don't want the DVD and don't want the hassle of sending it back, find one of your young neighbors and give to him or her. Who knows, in a couple of years they might be posting to Trainorders. Or, mail it to our Military personnel serving overseas; I'm sure there are some buff's over there who would love to see some "Big Power" instead of fire power for a change.
Be Safe.
Chris



Date: 09/25/07 13:13
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: Edwardjb

I agree that this method of selling DVDs is underhanded. My first thought is "why do I have to go to the trouble of returning it?" It was unsolicited and unwanted. I hope they don't do it again, I guess I'll just keep it, per regulations on unsollicited mail.

Ed



Date: 09/25/07 20:20
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: BNSF6400

As a subscriber for about 13 years now, I also find this a sleazy tactic...however, I have yet to receive such a DVD, but would do the same as RERNYC if/when I receive it. I had a company selling NASCAR DVD's do the same a year or so ago. After the FIFTH letter asking me to send the DVD back, I called and told them to stop sending me these letters or I was not going to buy anymore of the products...ever. The never sent me another letter or DVD.

While I haven't seen the Trains DVD, the real kicker about the NASCAR DVD was that it was generally a poor production that looks rushed and was full of errors or had information that was several years out of date. It wasn't something I would send out hoping people would buy more. That DVD was trashed after one view.




RERNYC Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When I received this DVD in the mail last week I
> called the Kalmbach Customer Relations Department.
> My point was that this was a sleazy tactic and a
> blemish on an over 50 year relationship. I was
> upset and said a second occurrence would force me
> to consider cancelling subscriptions to five
> magazines. They were professional and
> understanding. The rep said she would remove my
> name from the list provided to the DVD affiliate
> and to enjoy the DVD with their compliments. Rob



Date: 09/26/07 12:31
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: Narr8rdanny

Not to be discourteous...but how old are you guys? TWELVE???
This is a simple marketing technique that seems to be fairly straight forward. I received my DVD in the mail today. I opened it, watched it, then put it in THE POST-PAID ADDRRESSED RETURN MAILER along with my card checked "No Thanks".!
What was so hard or underhanded about that? The instructions were clear and easy to understand: If you want to recieve more of these and start paying for them, check the "YES" box on the card and return it. If you don't want this DVD or any more of them, check the "NO" box and return the card with the DVD...or keep the DVD and do nothing.
I would hardly call this approach "Sleazy". Those of you who think this is such a diabolical scheme should voice your opinion by returning the DVD in the envelope provided, which is completely free of charge.
But I'll bet you won't.

FOR PETE'S SAKE... THEY SENT YOU A SAMPLE AND ASKED YOU TO CHECK IT OUT WITHOUT CHARGE OR OBLIGATION.

I, for one, was happy to be able to view this program.

Regards,
Danny Harmon
Tampa



Date: 09/26/07 12:54
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: toledopatch

Got to agree with Danny here. To me this is hardly different than Gillette sending me a free sample of their latest razor, in hopes that I'll like the product and buy their cartridges. OK, there is the mail-order distinction, but other than that....

And I love the suggestion of, if you don't want the DVD for yourself, giving it to a neighborhood kid or sending it to a serviceman.

What this marketing concept proves to me is that DVDs are ridiculously cheap to produce. Obviously what you're paying for when you buy one for $30 or more is the content, not the material.



Narr8rdanny Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Not to be discourteous...but how old are you guys?
> TWELVE???
> This is a simple marketing technique that seems to
> be fairly straight forward. I received my DVD in
> the mail today. I opened it, watched it, then put
> it in THE POST-PAID ADDRRESSED RETURN MAILER along
> with my card checked "No Thanks".!
> What was so hard or underhanded about that? The
> instructions were clear and easy to understand: If
> you want to recieve more of these and start paying
> for them, check the "YES" box on the card and
> return it. If you don't want this DVD or any more
> of them, check the "NO" box and return the card
> with the DVD...or keep the DVD and do nothing.
> I would hardly call this approach "Sleazy". Those
> of you who think this is such a diabolical scheme
> should voice your opinion by returning the DVD in
> the envelope provided, which is completely free of
> charge.
> But I'll bet you won't.
>
> FOR PETE'S SAKE... THEY SENT YOU A SAMPLE AND
> ASKED YOU TO CHECK IT OUT WITHOUT CHARGE OR
> OBLIGATION.
>
> I, for one, was happy to be able to view this
> program.
>
> Regards,
> Danny Harmon
> Tampa



Date: 09/26/07 15:53
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: funnelfan

Danny, what's you address there? I'll sign you up for a thousand of these free offerings so you can get them, watch them, and return. You can thank me after you get done filling out a thousand forms, and oh, don't fall too far behind, those deadlines come up quick.
Everyone's point was that if a bunch of companies started to advertise in this manner, then we would be spending a lot of our time trying to get the damned things returned

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA



Date: 09/26/07 16:13
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: Highspeed

loco4501 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am still trying to
> decide just what to do with the DVD.

Tape the business-reply envelope to a brick and drop it in the mail.

After they get enough to build a roundhouse with, they'll get the message... and the postage bill!



Date: 09/26/07 16:50
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: Narr8rdanny

Actually Ted, if you were to sign me up for a thousand such offerings all that would happen is I would have a thousand DVD's to watch. I wouldn't have to fill out a single form or mail in anything! I would NOT be AUTOMATICALLY signed up for anything.
I don't see why you guys are so outraged over a video offer...and one of the simplest ones I've ever seen.

Regards,
Danny Harmon
Tampa

funnelfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Danny, what's you address there? I'll sign you up
> for a thousand of these free offerings so you can
> get them, watch them, and return. You can thank me
> after you get done filling out a thousand forms,
> and oh, don't fall too far behind, those deadlines
> come up quick.
> Everyone's point was that if a bunch of companies
> started to advertise in this manner, then we would
> be spending a lot of our time trying to get the
> damned things returned



Date: 09/26/07 17:48
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: BulletBob

Hey Danny

Well spoken! I did exactly the same thing, watched it and sent it back. I don't buy "general
release" railroad videos but specific subjects and enjoy digging around for them and doing the
research before buying.

I did think Trains could have done a much better job with the production especially for the first one out of the chute.

I didn't consider the Trains "Columbia House" approach underhanded just a marketing business gimic that was out of character and new for Trains. Some out-of-touch dodo in the Kalmbach offices thought it would goose their revenue stream I guess or maybe they are a bit "hard-up". Who knows.

However, in the return envelope I included a nicely worded letter that I thought they missed a long
overlooked business model---rentals ala NetFlix except TrainFlix. It would surprise me if I got a reply but that's OK.

Railroad videos are just like theatrical movies in that there is a huge slug of second tier productions, either in quality but mostly in preference, that you would never pay to see in the theater-period, but would have no problem with paying a few bucks to rent it as in "I'll just
wait until I can rent it".

Kalmbach could together a terrific rental library from their productions and their many advertizers. All of a sudden many old titles could easily begin to start generating cash again and the beauty of it is the customer is selecting exactly what they want to watch.

As an aside, another poster commented on all the damaged issues of Trains he's received-wet, mangled, wrinkled, etc. I've not had any of that except with Katrina.

Trains and Classic Trains stopped for 5-6 months after Katrina. Finally I called about it and found out our zip code was on the exclusion list Kalmbach received. We are 180 miles from the Gulf and
I told the agent that mail was the first thing to return and the power followed 9 days later.
What they received was indeed in error.

Kalmbach sent out all the back issues bundled up in first class so I am grateful to them for their service. They ain't all bad...



Date: 09/26/07 17:51
Re: Kalmbach's poor taste...
Author: Chicagoboy

Hey, fellas....

this original post comes from a 70-something guy who just thinks modern advertising ploys are discomforting and in many cases misleading.

When I was growing up with no computers and no way of executing this kind of thing in the mass marketplace, there were other scams designed to ensnare the unsuspecting. They just had to be done via U.S. Mail and the Sunday Supplement. Different time, same stuff.

You young guys are used to this - and likely don't mind it. Based on the posts some of you even LIKE it!

That's OK! My point is I think it's preying on the unsuspecting - and as we move into what appears to be a major catastrophe in the financial fortunes of this country I would suggest to all of you that the "You don't need a down payment" scam in the housing market, causing what Kiplinger says is going to be more than two million folks to get in over their head in mortgages that change rate and they find they can't pay for them is very similar - albeit on a much bigger scale.

WHY didn't those two million folks read the fine print? Do you really think everyone who gets Trains DVD will?

Please don't argue about it - just try to accept the premise of an old guy who says it is foolish to think the everyone on the planet is smart enough to see through this stuff.

Trust me - they're not - even if YOU are.

Nuff said.

Bill



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