Do you approve of "How Stereophile Market itself"?

I was moderate subscriber to Stereophile over that last two years or so, but recently cancelled my subscribtion around Dec of 2001. Like most ex-subscribers I received many junk mail about renewing my subscription, but never thought much of it.

Yesterday, I received a letter from the National Credit Audit Company (NCAC), stating that they were collecting on behalf of Stereophile. This frustrated me because I had already cancelled my subscription and haven't received new copies for months. I initially thought it was a timing issue or some clerks at Stereophile forgot to cancel my subscription and now my credit history will be affected by all this. It wasn't until I called NCAC, dealt with the annoying automated operator, then realized that it was just another ploy to get me to sign up for another subscription. NCAC went further to state that they're a normal credit collector and will not report or make any contact to the credit report people. I can't believe Stereophile would steep so low with this type of marketing ployed. Any of you ever experienced this frustrating ordeal?
3chihuahuas (love your handle), Just what I would expect.

You certainly show good taste in canceling your subscription to that pretentious rag. It's done more to replace audio innovation with marketing hype than any other source. Don't you worry about folks who buy stuff based on those ratings?

I remain,
Along the lines of "stooping so low", Stereophile routinely sells their customers info to junkmailers, even AFTER you have told them NOT. Better yet, even after you have told them not to, for a second time, they then do it again. They told us we have to call every year to be removed from their list, which we never asked to be on, and that we specifically told them NOT to put us in in the first place.
These are non affiliated third parties.

National Credit Audit Company (NCAC)?
Their threats carry less weight than the paper they are written on.
You could only hope they would mark your credit and cause you to be turned
down for a loan as a result. That would mean a a nice out of court settlement for you.

This is so absurd. All this nonsense because
we wanted to pay Stereofool for their publication?
It's too bad they carry as much weight as they do.
at 12 bucks a year come on guys. it may not be that great but if you have a couple good reviews it is worth that.
I too decided to let my subscription run out. Even at 12 dollars per year it is not worth it. The quality has gone way down hill, and selling my info to junk mailers did not make me to happy either even with repeated requests not to. I think more people are seeing the light and they no longer carry the weight they used to.
you know, the guy who founded stereophile recently jumped ship and joined TAS because he couldn't stand what stereophile had become.
I had a similar experience with LISTENER. I accepted their offer to send me a free copy. About two weeks later I recieved the same copy I got the coupon out of. I didnt respond and verify that I wanted to subscribe. First came the reminder notes, one after another. Then came threats concerning my credit. I got the CNAC letter (or something like it). I liked the mag and might have tried it if they hadnt sent me the copy I already bought. Bad marketing, even if the threats scare you, who wants to give money to someone who would do you like that?
I just received my March issue of Sterophile. I really enjoyed the 2 page BMW ad. I will not renew to this mag unless Mr. Holt returns. With all due (dog) respect to Mr Atkinson, I think the mag would be better served if he would quit listening to how a component measures. When Mr. Atkinson retires, I might think about renewing to Stereophile. No disrespect meant to those who feel that how a speaker, amp, or whatever measures is of importance. IMO, this is meanless. Hook it up and see if you like it. I can't think of a better way to do it.
Dear Cluless, you are anything but cluless. Well said.
In spite of the many faults that Stereophile has it still represents the strongest voice of "high end audio." In that exalted position they can still represent our viewpoint and command respect from the Sony's and Phillips of the world who care little or nothing about good audio reproduction. A case in point is the new watermarking fiasco that threatens to ruin all future recordings. A loss of Stereophile could well mark the death knell of our hobby as we know it. Our replacement would of course be the black hole called audio/video. That shift of power would distroy any incentive manufacturers might have to produce products for our needs . Stereophile may be a highly flawed publication but it is our last and best hope for survival.
Getting back to the issue at hand, the unfortunate contact that "Clueless" received from NCAC in all likelihood has nothing to do with STEREOPHILE. There are companies that purchase subscription lists (including lists of cancelled subscribers) from third parties or fulfillment houses, and then attempt to represent themselves as being agents of the publisher in an attempt to obtain your renewal. These companies charge more than the publisher, and on occasion take your money and run. (I speak from experience on that one). I subscribe to a lot of magazines (news, sports, special interest, etc.) and I get about 5 or 6 of these phone calls a year; plus another 8 or 9 mailings a year. For example, within the just the past month or so, I have been contacted by alleged "representatives" of NEWSWEEK and THE SPORTING NEWS, who offered me an opportunity to extend my subscription at rates that were 30% to 50% higher than what the publisher charges. For your own protection, the lesson to be learned is to renew a magazine subscription directly and only through the publisher; and pay no attention to any other solicitations you may receive.
Please don't lump Phillips in with Sony; they aren't at all the same. Sony has been a major player in trying to drive down recording quality standards via lossy compression algorithms (in addition to having abysmal quality control in their own electronic products), whereas Phillips has been one of the few big-league defenders of audio quality. I will grant that recently Sony has seen fit to promote SACD, which is excellent but the jury is still out on the fate of this format. It could well be another Beta.

Re Stereophile, I can't stand their marketing people but I still will support them as one of the few audio publications devoted to the high end and to improvement in audio standards. And I disagree strongly with the above statement that measurements don't matter-- Some measurements don't, others definitely do. The challenge is trying to find measurements which correlate with what you hear and are thus useful. Please don't condemn measurement as useless simply because mankind hasn't been able to measure everything yet. That is every bit as ignorant as stating that medicine is useless because we don't yet know how to cure cancer 100% of the time. And Stereophile has been the only mag that is not only willing to perform measurements, but more importantly, is trying on a continuing basis to figure out which measurements are actually useful. This has been the most helpful in the loudspeaker arena, where the biggest problems still exist. Measurements of the step response and spectral decay of a speaker are tremendously useful, because they directly address an issue of tremendous importance, that is, time-domain behavior. And yes, they very convincingly correlate with what you can hear. In addition, even the impedance and phase plots of a loudspeaker are useful indirectly as an indicator of how well the crossover has been refined, cabinet and port resonances, etc. And I am sure that twenty years from now, those efforts will pay off in even better measurements. Just because we're not there yet is no reason to stop trying.
Stereophile has staying power and their classifications do help drive sales for manufacturers. I've seen many ads here where the seller points out the item for sale is "Stereophile Class A". Means nothing at all to me, from what I can tell it's hard not to get some sort of positive rating from Stereophile. There's WAY too many variables to take their opinion with more than a grain of salt. I have a hard time with any of the mags simply because of the nature of the beast; they get a new amp in for audition and have a month or so to write a review. In my experience it takes at least a month (or longer) for a component to burn in and the real character to show through. Synergy is overlooked. A speaker may be fantastic with solid state gear but be considered too warm with tubes. The room plays a big role, far as I know my room is quite different from any reviewers I'v heard about. More often than not they review the products with music I don't listen to. A system that shines with vocals and small-ensemble jazz may not be worth a damn when it come to rock. It goes on and on. Save the money spent on magazines and pick up some new music.
The biggest anchor around the neck of Stereophile is its lack of integrity. If it cherished the position of power and influence it unjustifiably continues to hold in the audiophile industry rather than trying to exploit it with manufacturers, readers and audiophile consumers, the future outlook for Stereophile would look much better than it does. Unfortunately, they have taken the attitude that they can use their market power to unjustifiably hype certain equipment while simply ignoring other equipment which is more worthy, cheaper or both, and that they can require expensive ad campaigns from manufacturers as the price for a good review of the equipment, or for even a review of a manufacturer's equipment at all. Above all, they appear to have the feeling that we, the customers of Stereophile, will not see through their marketing "strategy" and that we will accept that just because they say that $40,000 Krell speaker or Levinson amp is the best that we will accept it without reservation. All I can say is that type of cynical strategy will always ultimately fail. They can't outsmart the marketplace forever and there is evidence that their plan is failing as we speak. I will not renew my subscription when it lapses in May, even though Stereophile is the only one who measures the equipment and, contrary to others, I appreciate having some objectivity put up against the biases of a reviewer whose objectivity is already highly questionable. Now, these stories of high pressure sales tactics which seem to border on fraud utilized in order to pressure you into subscription renewal indicate desperation on the part of Stereophile and even more cynicism directed at their customers. If knowledgable audiophiles continue to vote against Stereophile (with their feet), Stereophile will either wake up and change for the better or the marketplace will eventually ignore them. Sadly, I think they are currently in the process of digging their own grave. When they are no longer an economically viable enterprise, will they understand the role they played in bringing about that inevitable result?
Rayhall, your post is "A" rated.

SP would do well to look back to when J. Gordon Holt brought purpose, a rather zany humor, and a lot less gloss (B&W covers) and stroking to the effort. Anybody catch this month's AudioXpress?

Sincerely, I remain
This has been a great post. I learned a lot from my fellow A-Gonners, and feel that everyone of you has hit the target in your own individual way. The problems that "3 Chi" has written about, however, are problems that exist in the magazine business, and will continue to escalate until a big wig with some juice finally goes through the same crap "3 Chi" has, and will do something about it. That aside, I'd like to put my two cents in about Stereophile.
I liked them for quite a while, and respected the way they handled themselves. Certainly, I didn't agree with everything they said, but I felt that they promoted this industry very well, and were good for its growth. Then I began to hear complaints about them only reviewing equipment from manufacturers who advertise with them. That's a hell of a big NO NO.(Remember Stereo Review?) I also really disliked the KR Enterprises Amp debacle, and felt that they never really recovered well from that. But the caper for me was the last show in New York. I attended the "Ask the Editor" meeting, and walked away with a very bad feeling. The subject matter eventually turned to "How do we bring new enthusiasts into our hobby"? and the "Format wars are driving away these possible fledglings" type of dialog when Sam Tellig wished a "Curse on both their houses" in response to the DVD Audio vs. SACD subject and also said in response to newbies that they should remain the "Great Unwashed", meaning....who needs them or wants them? They also made no bones about supporting SACD as opposed to DVD Audio, which at best is premature. Even at this point in the game, a vote of support for one over another is just wrong. How else do you explain the success of upsamplers? Anyway, when they began to pass the mic around, I asked about watermarking. That question was quickly dismissed with some BS that no one understood, and they went on to talk about the virtues of SACD.
Now, tell me these people don't have an agenda that benefits the manufacturers, and ask yourself if this cool.
But to answer the original question, no I don't approve
They look like they're trying to fill the 'Stereo Review' niche. Thinner and thinner mags, and many more positive reviews. Hey, you can't stay anti-establishment forever. Many of the flower children of the 60's sold out, and are millionaires today. You can't resist the call of the money forever.

I'd just like to point out that if Stereophile had nothing to do with NCAC contacting Clueless and 3chihuahuas, the whole situation could have been avoided under your presumption of how the contact did occur if Stereophile did not sell its subscription list to NCAC (or anyone else).

I think those who have been harassed by NCAC should unite and find the appropriate federal agency (Interstate Commerce Commission?) and complain about this harassment. The perpretators of these sales tactics, whether Stereophile is directly or indirectly behind this, should be made to feel some pain as a result. I will be right with you filing my complaint as soon as I am harassed sometime after my subscription lapses in May/June. Please don't allow Stereophile to think that they are gaining a business advantage by directly or indirectly harassing former subscribers.

Thanks, Clueless.