What happened with the Holmes magazine and how it went defunct is not new news, in fact its been well over a year since the debacle went down. This story from TheStar.com's business section was published today, May 20, 2013, and was seemingly prompted by the Mike Holmes 10th Anniversary special edition magazine that went on news stands April 22, 2013. The one-off magazine published in honor of Mike's 10th anniversary on television might have a few more editions coming down the pipeline, as indicated by the story below, and is serving the Holmes Group as a toe tester to judge how hot or cold the public is to having a new publication after the old one ended so abruptly.
I've been rather constructively critical of how the Holmes Group has handled certain issues this past week. Maybe now it's my turn to stand up for the Holmes Group and defend them on this issue that's been quite divisive amongst fans.
I think this whole situation with the Holmes Magazine has been both privately and publicly embarrassing to the Holmes Group. Their subscribers were left high and dry, out the subscription fee with no magazine to show for it. When it comes to pointing fingers and assigning blame, how do we the fans go about this and still be fair? First of all, it's important to realize that what's done is done, and there's no going back. How the situation was handled, for better or for worse, has already happened, so really it's a question of how to move forward from this PR "cluster f---." I've seen a lot of very angry fans lash out on Facebook as a result of this. A lot of them hold Mike Holmes and the Holmes Group solely responsible for both the loss of the magazine and the loss of the subscription money. Mike had the most to gain and lose from this situation, and sadly his reputation took a tremendous body slam through all of this. But is it really fair to assign all the blame for this fiasco to Mike Holmes and the Holmes Group? From what I've read, the magazine went under and shortly thereafter the publisher, Dauphin Media, went out of business. As anybody who's ever made a bad business decision knows, when a company goes belly up, the money goes belly up right along with it. You can't squeeze blood from a stone, and you can't get money out of a company that no longer exists. So what is the Holmes Group to do? Some people think that Mike Holmes should personally refund every subscriber what he or she is out. The problem with that is that the Holmes Group never received any of that money, and any refunds would be at their expense. The question that every fan must ask him or herself is, is it fair to expect the Holmes Group to refund money they didn't take? I'm sure for some the answer is yes, but the Holmes Group has taken the position that they too are victims in this, and to attempt to refund the money to their subscribers would be prohibitive to them and the viability of their organization.
In my eyes, the Holmes Group is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and they're learning that sometimes there's no way to make the situation right, no matter how much they'd like to. I think as good fans of Mike Holmes and what he does, we owe it to Mike and to ourselves to move on from this. Everyone is entitled to make a mistake, as long as we learn from those mistakes and become better. I'm looking forward to the prospect of a new publication, and I'm completely willing to give the Holmes Group another chance. I have full confidence that the mistakes they made in the past concerning their previous magazine won't be repeated, and that if they do proceed forward, they will proceed more cautiously than before. I also believe they are currently absorbing more of the blame than they should be, and I don't think it's fair or reasonable to lay the entire matter at their feet just because it's convenient to do so. That's not to say that the Holmes Group is completely blameless in this situation, as I think they owed it to their subscribers to take necessary steps to assure the viability of the magazine. I also think they could have done a better job at communicating to those fans who lost subscription fees. But like I said, what's done is done, and there's no turning back. A matter such as this requires people to be reasonable and thoughtful, and perhaps show a little compassion to a group who's been so compassionate to others in the past. That's just my take on the situation.
From The Star.com:
TV host and contractor Mike Holmes can’t make things right for subscribers: Roseman
Holmes made his name by criticizing contractors on TV, but he stumbled on his venture into magazine publishing.
Mike Holmes calls himself “the most trusted contractor in the business.” But he’s no hero to those who subscribed to his magazine and found the plug was pulled prematurely, leaving them without refunds.
Holmes: The Magazine to Make It Right was suspended in November 2011 after two years. The publisher, Dauphin Media Group of Toronto, said it intended to fulfill its obligations to subscribers.
But those who paid for a three-year subscription didn’t get their money back. Nor did they get another magazine for the balance, which often happens when their chosen publication goes under.
Holmes did not respond to phone calls asking for comment.
Bernice Hurtubise paid $40 for 30 issues, but received just five issues before they stopped coming. She was angry not to receive any replies to her emails and calls.
“I have not heard anything from this company and Mike Holmes has not said anything about it. I want you to Make Things Right by getting Mike Holmes to give us back our money,” she said.
“My daughter got her money back on her subscription to Wish magazine when it went out of business.”
Christine Newman wrote to me, saying she was “incredibly disappointed” after the magazine folded shortly after she bought a one-year subscription.
“Mike Holmes’ empire accepts no responsibility and does not respond to emails. It’s a shame because I trusted Mike Holmes and he must have put a lot of effort into building his brand, only to have it shattered in a moment.”
Liza Drozdov, vice-president of the Holmes Group, said the company controlled the editorial content and left the business side to the publisher. (Dauphin went out of business in April 2012.)
Left without any subscribers’ lists, the Holmes Group had to ask the fulfillment firms that mailed the magazines for names and addresses.
“Once we have those lists, we’ll be in a better position to communicate with the subscribers who’ve been left high and dry,” Drozdov said last fall.
“I do have a promising meeting scheduled with a prospective new publisher and hope to be able to relaunch a magazine again in 2013. We intend to work together to somehow provide a solution that will offer the subscribers some satisfaction.”
Recently, a new magazine, Make It Right, 10 Years of Mike Holmes On TV, appeared on newsstands, featuring a cover photo of the handyman in his trademark overalls. His photo appears on almost every inside page, too.
At last, I thought. The promise has been kept. Then, I noticed the magazine, published by Transcontinental Media in Toronto, cost $9.99 for 98 pages.
Was this a special interest publication? Yes, said Drozdov. There were plans to publish a few others to see if there was any public desire to return to a regularly published magazine.
And while the Holmes Group did manage to purchase a subscribers’ list from the U.S. distributor, it had no plans to send them the new magazine or give back their money.
“Mike never did receive the revenue from those subscriptions, so we’re not in a position to reimburse those subscribers. The cost is prohibitive,” Drozdov said.
“My hope is that we could successfully launch a regular digital publication of the magazine, so we could at least offer that to subscribers. But sadly, we are a long way off from that being more than an idea.”
So, here’s the bottom line: Don’t buy long-term subscriptions to magazines that are fairly new and may not survive. Stick to those with a track record and published by companies with a diverse list of properties.
As Holmes found, it’s hard to make things right when you lack control of your projects and rely on others to do the heavy lifting.