The truth about Reader's Digest canadian Sweepstakes



    MONTREAL, Feb. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Reader's Digest completely dismisses the
allegations aired on CBC Marketplace and wants to rectify the facts,
especially about its Sweepstakes and its marketing strategies. The success for
one of Canada's most-recognizable and trusted brand names has always been to
treat their customers with the highest integrity while offering quality
products to hundreds of thousands of satisfied Canadians.

    An established and reputable Canadian company:
    ----------------------------------------------

    Reader's Digest Canadian Operations publish five magazines, including
Reader's Digest and Sélection, Canada's most read magazines, reaching  8
million Canadians every month. It is an established company operating in
Canada, serving its customers for over 60 years.
    Reader's Digest is a leading Canadian multi-brand media and multi-channel
marketing company that educates, entertains and connects audiences throughout
the country. Recently launched publications include Best Health, a healthy
lifestyle magazine for Canadian women and More of Our Canada, a companion
magazine to the very popular Our Canada magazine. Along with being a premier
publisher of books, music and video products, it also operates four branded
websites. All publications and products are selected, adapted or created by
Canadians for Canadians.
    In 2008 Masthead Magazine declared that the Reader's Digest Magazine
retains the distinction of being the most influential Canadian magazine of all
time. A recent study, conducted in winter 2007-2008 by Roper Reports Canada,
concluded that Reader's Digest is Canada's most trusted magazine.
    Reader's Digest is one of the founding members of the Canadian Marketing
Association, a member of the Better Business Bureau and has a collaborative
relationship with Phone Busters (The Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Center managed
by the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau Canada).
The company is also an active member of Magazines Canada, of La Fédération
Professionnelle des Journalistes du Québec, and of Magazines du Québec.
    The Reader's Digest Foundation contributes financially to the support of
university-level journalism education, as well as national organizations
directly involved in advancing fundamental journalistic principles. Since
1978, the Foundation has contributed more than 2.5 millions dollars. Reader's
Digest is also recognized as a key reference for the highest standard in
quality in journalistic content, and for its rigorous research and vetting
methods.
    Independent data confirms that hundreds of thousands of consumers have
exceptionally positive views regarding the Company's brands, products and
services.

    Why Reader's Digest offers Sweepstakes:
    ---------------------------------------

    Reader's Digest offers Sweepstakes because their customers enjoy them and
regard them as a fun activity or perk. Offering Sweepstakes allows Reader's
Digest to showcase a wide variety of products that appeal to a broad range of
Canadians coast-to-coast. The Sweepstakes is like the window of a retail
store; the customer can browse without buying.
    All Reader's Digest promotions make it clear that entry into the
Sweepstakes is free. No purchase is ever necessary; there are always two clear
options (Yes/No) in each promotion package, usually in the form of two large
envelopes, with equal size font for both options (a 48 point font) using two
different colors in order to ensure that the "Yes" and "No" options are easy
to distinguish . The "Yes" option is used to order a product and to enter the
Sweepstakes, the "No" option to enter the Sweepstakes only. Every promotion
provides equal prominence in the package for both options.
    Reader's Digest customers can receive an average of one promotion per
week and in any given campaign 75% of the respondents do not order a product,
opting to enter the Sweepstakes only. Reader's Digest maintains that the "Yes"
or "No" option is clearly understood by both long-time customers and new
prospects. The results bear that 75% of the Sweepstakes prize winners to date
have been selected with a "No" entry.
    Since 1962 Reader's Digest has awarded over 22 million dollars in prizes
to more than 105,000 winners across Canada through its Sweepstakes. Our most
recent winner, Mrs. Bonnie Mulholland, won $500,000 returning a "No" entry. To
see her and other recent winners go online at
http://www.readersdigest.ca/sweeps_new.html
    Reader's Digest operates in 45 countries. Each country is home to an
independently managed company, including Canada, and functions according to
its own market rules and regulations. All pertinent information concerning our
Sweepstakes is clearly itemized in the rules. These are filed with La Régie
des alcools, des courses et des jeux, the governing regulatory body for
companies located in Québec. Reader's Digest has never been advised by its
regulator of any complaints received by consumers believing the purchase of a
product is necessary to enter or win the Sweepstakes.
    The Reader's Digest Sweepstakes is independently audited and judged by
the chartered accountant firm of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT). TD
Canada Trust ensures the payment of all the prizes through a guarantee
Reader's Digest purchases for each new Sweepstakes.
    Reader's Digest continuously monitors customer reactions and
satisfaction. Year after year customers tell us that they enjoy entering the
Sweepstakes. In fact, less then one complaint for every 10,000 customers is
about the Sweepstakes, which is an extremely high satisfaction rate.

    Great products for everyone:
    ----------------------------

    Canadian customers of all ages enjoy Reader's Digest's great products.
The company promotes a wide selection of products, which appeal to a varied
range of interests. For example, one of the company's best seller books in the
last year is a mother and baby care book - which was specifically developed
with the concerns of young mothers in mind.
    The average reader of Reader's Digest Magazine is 46 years old and the
magazine remains the number one choice among the market segment of women aged
18-45. Active subscribers of Best Health, the latest addition to the Reader's
Digest family of publications, are women between the ages of 30 -55.

    Marketplace:
    ------------

    Reader's Digest provided CBC's Marketplace with relevant information
concerning Reader's Digest Sweepstakes policies, believing that a written
statement was the most appropriate way for an established company to represent
itself on this show. In the company's view, Marketplace preferred to discard
the available information in order to produce a biased segment based on one
customer and a hand picked sampling of individuals. They did not reach out to
any of Reader's Digest's hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers.
    This neither represents the reality of the Sweepstakes or the customers'
experiences. Marketplace focused on the unusual case of one customer, ignoring
the fact that once a family member had alerted Reader's Digest, the company
immediately ceased further promotion to the customer. Reader's Digest also
issued this customer a sizeable refund in August '08. If a customer or a
family member points out a problem, customer service quickly reacts and
corrects the situation. Contrary to what Marketplace alluded to, there is
currently no certified class action and Reader's Digest is confident there
won't be in the future.
    The Marketplace team demonstrated bad faith by first contacting Reader's
Digest in December requesting an interview without fully disclosing the
intended purpose and context. This in itself contravenes the CBC's own Code of
Standards and Practices
(http://www.cbc.radio-canada.ca/accountability/journalistic/index.shtml).
After Reader's Digest declined the interview and provided them with a detailed
statement setting out the facts, Marketplace arrived unannounced at Reader's
Digest premises regardless, further violating their own code of ethics.
    "It's shocking to us that Marketplace neglected to give their viewers the
relevant facts we provided. Our opinion is that a public affairs program
should offer both sides of the story, but they did not," concludes Tony
Cioffi, President and CEO of Reader's Digest Canadian Operations. "It's
disappointing. Reader's Digest, on the other hand, will continue to operate
with integrity, just as we've done for over 60 years."




For further information:

For further information: Annie Péloquin, Public Relations Director -
Reader's Digest Canadian Operations, (514) 940-7328

Organization Profile

The Reader's Digest Association (Canada) ULC

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