Maghound Mystery

I'm a serious, hopeless magazine addict. In fact, I'm terrified to stop and calculate how much I spend on magazines each month — because I might suffer sudden, explosive heart failure.

So, I was very interested to get a promotional e-mail for Time-Warner's new Maghound service ("The magazine lover's best friend!"), for which you pay a fixed fee per month for a fixed number of magazines, and you can swap out and change the magazines at any time, like a super-flexible multi-magazine subscription. It's almost Netflix-Meets-Magazines, in a seriously-bad-comparison kind of way.

There's only one hitch: I showed the site to a friend, and he got completely different pricing than I did. Like, totally different. And it was consistent — a page refresh gave the same pricing again.

Curious, we pulled up the site on four different computers here at work, and — yes — got four completely different prices!

Seemingly, they're trying to determine which pricing model is most popular, in real-time...

So, magazine freak beware: if you're considering trying out Maghound, I encourage you to try it on a few computers before you sign up, to play a brief game of pricing roulette. (Or, presumably, you could clean your browser cookies between visits, depending or not on if they tie your offer to your IP address...)

The first chart we got. Lower monthly fees overall.

The second one. $1 more all around!

Third try. Much more expensive: $3 more!

The chart I got from clicking the e-mail link. You want this one!

PS: Also a deal-killer: no computer or video game magazines available at Maghound? Boo!
PPS: I promise not to only ever write about pricing/retail/sales mysteries. It's just a phase! A phase!


Cabel blog traffic kills Maghound??!!

Love the idea! But here's what I got when I tried to subscribe...


Thank you very much for your interest in MAGHOUND, the new concept in magazine management services. Unfortunately, MAGHOUND is unavailable at this time. We very much appreciate the time and energy you have spent with our site. Your response is a critical part of an important market test to determine demand for our service.

If you have already submitted your order information to us via the website or the brochure that was sent in the mail, please note:

You will not be billed or charged for MAGHOUND at this time.
We are not yet able to process the magazine package that you ordered through this service.
Your personal information is secure & safe. MAGHOUND will not sell or release your information for any other promotional purposes. We will keep your name on file and contact you if and when this service becomes available in the future. Please feel free to view our Privacy Policy if you have any questions.

A new and versatile service like MAGHOUND requires a lot of research and testing. We set up this website for a limited time to measure the appeal of the concept and gather feedback from interested consumers like yourself. The process you just completed is very important as it allows us to build the best service possible. We sincerely apologize if our market test has caused you any inconvenience or disappointment as we work to launch MAGHOUND in the near future.

We are very grateful for your interest in MAGHOUND. Should you have any questions or suggestions, please email us at

Brian Wolfe
MAGHOUND President
Anonymous Paul Joyce 2/10/2006 2:41 PM  
Bizarre! Maybe it was just all a market-research ruse, and they never offered the service in the first place!
Blogger Cabel 2/10/2006 2:50 PM  
No music mags??? There are only 3 I'd be interested in... the New Yorker(already subscribed), Wired, maybe Esquire. And I'm not big into bowhunting or quilting.

I like the idea, but I'll wait till they have a better selection.
Anonymous Peter 2/10/2006 3:22 PM  
Those are some seriously sucky magazines. It's a great idea, but needs more options!
Blogger Clickie 2/10/2006 4:18 PM  
Purging cookies would appear not to work. I tried it a few times and always get the "$4.95" pricing.
Anonymous Jeremy 2/10/2006 5:26 PM  
I didn't click on any subscribe button, I was just looking around at the magazines and got the same message as above.

screenshot here
Blogger Chris Foresman 2/10/2006 6:51 PM  
I got $3.95 for 3 magz, $6.95 for 5 magz and $8.95 for 7 magz. Unfortunately "Make" is not on the list, so fuggetaobut it! Let's see the long tail, people!
Blogger Josh 2/10/2006 11:56 PM  
I also love the magazines, so here's a tip from one magphreak to another: Make your first subscription to Columbia Journalism Review. They sell their subscriber list to other publications. These other magazines figure you must be in the business, because you subscribe to CJR, and they want others in the business to read their mags. They offer Professional Courtesy Rates much lower than the regular subscription price. I get The New Yorker for 20 bucks a year, and Wired for 10. It's a great deal. And CJR is good reading, too.
Anonymous Anonymous 2/12/2006 1:23 AM  
On the plus side, what a great logo they have there.
Anonymous Matt Sephton 2/13/2006 2:42 AM  
I got a Maghound offer via direct mail (snail mail!) last week, so it's not an online-only test market.

No slouch mailer, either! This thing is 32-pages of colorized, saddle-stitched glory with full-color miniaturized covers of many of the magazines. The reply card is marked "Reply by 03/03/06."

Pricing was $4.95 for 3, $7.95 for 5, or $9.95 for 7, with a three-month trial period for free.

I wonder if they'd as willingly back out of a USPS-delivered response as a Web-reply... although there's teeny print on here that is interesting:

"Plans for development depend on response to this offer."
Anonymous dlong 2/15/2006 7:56 AM  
wow, what a tease! that seems commercially immoral; absolutely false advertising. that alone makes me suspicious and disinclined to sign up once it does become available, in addition to the slim pickings for selection!
Blogger rso 2/15/2006 5:11 PM  
Looks like Maghound is up and running now.
Anonymous Anonymous 3/14/2009 10:46 AM  

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Name:Cabel Maxfield Sasser
Job:Co-Founder, Panic Inc.
Location:Portland, OR