Q: How can I deal with a predatory journal?
Four years ago (in 2017), I had submitted an article to a predatory journal. I was then a young scientist without any experience in this field. A month later the article was accepted and I received an invoice of 3,619 USD. As you can imagine this is an imposible amount to pay and I immediately sent an e-mail asking them to withdraw my submission. They replied to me saying that I still had to pay to withdraw my submission. They answered that they can give me a discount and charge only 1,000 USD, and if I still choose to withdraw I would have to pay the withdrawal charges, which was 30% of the original fees.
Thanks for providing all these details. It looks like, over these years, the journal has thrown everything at you that predatory journals typically throw at early career researchers (ECRs): promise of easy acceptance/publishing, then a huge APC, then the “lure” of a discount, then a withdrawal amount, and now reminders. Many ECRs go through such experiences; only in your case, it has happened over four years.
Anyway, to answer your query, you don’t have to worry about legal troubles. Predatory journals don’t go that far – they only threaten to! At the most, they’ll next say that they’ll contact your supervisor/institute, but you could be proactive and let them (supervisor/institute) know of this “mishap” yourself. Don’t worry – your supr/insti know the mishaps and mistakes ECRs tend to make, and they should be mostly understanding. :) Coming back to the worry over any legal actions, again, predatory journals don’t go that far because they have very little legal ground to stand on themselves! So, you should you be okay, especially as you yourself have shared that you “don’t really care about the article.”
To further assuage your fears, you may go through these similar queries (and our responses to them) by other researchers:
And while you probably don’t need this now, you may keep handy the following checklist (to identify predatory journals): 10 Point checklist to identify predatory publishers
You have probably come quite some way since being a “young scientist,” but you could share this with your juniors so that they can save themselves from going through a similar experience. :)
Hope that helps. And all the best for your continued growth as a researcher!