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Reader's Digest Young Families
120 Brighton Road
Clifton, NJ 07012
phone: 800-452-6798
phone: 302-796-5300
customer service hours: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. M-F (New Jersey time, I guess)


I admit it. I'm a sucker for free. So when James Ryan from Reader's Digest called to tell me that I had been selected to receive 6 free gifts from Sesame Street, I said "Don't keep me waiting!"

Almost. Before I could ask any questions, though, I was told I would not have to pay shipping and handling and there was no committment. You can even see the details of the offer online.

I still had some questions. What about return postage if I didn't want to keep the book they were sending me to preview? No problem, I was told...just write "cancel" on the invoice and mark the package "return to sender" at no cost to me.

So I said, "Let's do it!"

A few weeks later, the package arrived.

I anticipated the excitement that my favorite 3-year-old would have when I presented the goodies to him. But my anticipation quickly turned to disappointment once I got a chance to examine the haul.

The free books, which included the letters "A" and "B", were baby books, not suitable for kids over 18 months.

The play mat was everything I expected it to be... but I wasn't expecting that much. The alphabet and number cards seem like the most attractive part of the deal. The parent's guide, of course, was just thrown in because sometimes, people need 6 free gifts if you want them to sign up... 5 just might not do it.

Such a deal!

Parents who take up Reader's Digest on the complete set have a lot to look forward to. Aside from their six free gifts, here's what they can look forward to over the following 8 months

More than likely, the child will have outgrown the books before the complete set is received. But besides that, there's no reason for one child to have 26 completely uninspired baby books that are all alike!

No shipping or handling (on the free gifts, that is)? Maybe not. But what about sending the books back for free?

Not if you follow the rules. The "return to sender" gambit only applies if you don't open the package! In other words, the only way for your free gifts to be free is to send them back. Such a deal, don't you think?

Problem Resolved

I contacted their customer service using the online complaint form, asking how I was supposed to return the unwanted preview book at no charge. Several days later, I received a message indicating that they would credit me for the book and that I didn't need to return it. A subsequent query of my account with them shows my account has been completely deleted. I guess that should ensure I don't receive any unwanted merchandise or bills from them.

If this had been even the second result in a Google for Reader's Digest Families I would have read it, shook my head for this poor sop and moved on but this is the first result and that is ridiculous. I encourage everyone to go to and select the Young Families link to peruse the small but quality selection of children's books series offered. Not only are the ABCs relevant to any child under 6 but the series in question is produced in conjunction with Sesame Street and a portion of the proceeds goes to the Children's Television Workshop. I have both the ABC and the Neighborhood series for my 16-month old and *4* year old. Both children get a kick out of both series. After my 4 year old learned his ABCs with these books he is now learning to read with them.

If you've noticed, the average cost of a quality children's book is at least $7. The price of each book in these series is either $4.99 or $5.99. Two or three are delivered in a shipment so shipping takes the place of sales tax and the difference in price from a store bought book. Even with that there are probably some savings. My parents started the Neighborhood series and when they could not afford to finish I took over with a simple phone call after a several month lull in the deliveries and even switched to a different address. There is nothing to complain about in ReadersDigest? customer service.

Yes, the cold call method to entice you to subscribe to the series is off-color but, hey, it's not illegal yet and you can use your brain and say no. Also there is a thing called the National Do Not Call Registry. It's America folks. When someone calls saying they have something for free there is always a catch. Duh! But there is nothing fishy or untoward about the Reader's Digest Young Families book series.

Notwithstanding the fact that my wife failed to multiply the cost of 26 books before ordering this series... Reader's Digest claims you get three books every month and you can cancel anytime. Well after I received the first three books, the other 23 books ALL ARRIVED IN THE NEXT MONTH'S SHIPMENT. And I was given a fat bill of $144. The idea was supposed to be that my kid can get excited about getting something in the mail every month, and that was spoiled by them sending all the books at once. Not only that but I would have cancelled the rest of the books had I found out what the total bill was. I can go to the store and buy a single book for 7.99 that covers all the letters. Heck, I could buy 10 different ones and still be way under this cost! But I wasn't given the opportunity to cancel was I? Yep, pretty bitter.

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