Archive for the ‘Subscriptions’ Category

Service of Marketing that Hits a Sour Note: Details and the Devil

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

New Yorker circ photo

I bought some items online during an after Christmas sale and almost three weeks later got a notice from the store that one of the items wasn’t available. OK. That happens. “LET US MAKE IT UP TO YOU,” came a proposal for a “gift”–$10 off a $100 purchase. This hit a sour note: It sounded like “heads they win; tails I lose.” Otherwise I like the store.

The next two examples are courtesy of the circulation departments of a magazine and newspaper considered top of the line in their categories. I subscribe to and admire both. However, they appear to be trying to save money by selecting under par fulfillment and promotion partners at just the time they need to excel.

  • The magazine has been nagging me to renew my subscription months early and if I do, I’ll get a free subscription as a gift. [Always suspicious, I envision losing the months I’ve already paid for, between now and the end of the original subscription, and I don’t want to waste time untangling this potential glitch.] Fine writing and elegance are just two of the magazine’s selling points and the subscription is costly. That’s why I didn’t expect to see a typo in the first word of the third line [“your”] printed on a piece of cheap scrap paper enclosed in their correspondence seeking my business. [See photo above.]
  • The newspaper didn’t deliver its weekend and Monday issues last week. I called customer service on Tuesday making clear that we didn’t want the credit, we wanted the newspapers. The operator [from a far-off land] said he understood. On Wednesday we received a second copy of the Tuesday issue. I called back and was told they would have to mail us the weekend and Monday copies and that this would take from seven to 10 days. I had already spent far too much time on this mistake and snapped “fine, do that,” and hung up. Still waiting.
  • All this reminds me of a restaurant we went to in the Berkshires years ago that served remarkable food in an enchanting setting with a terrible hostess who ran the room like a general during a military operation readiness inspection {ORI}. The tension her approach achieved added a false note to an otherwise pleasant experience. We learned later that her husband was the chef. Nevertheless, she ruined the evening.

Do you have other examples of an irritating detail that conflicted with the otherwise high quality of a product or service?

$10 off $100 turned

Service of What Were They Thinking II? Gun Permits for Blind Applicants, Publishing Charitable Donations and Magazine Subscription Rates

Thursday, October 17th, 2013


Seeing Straight

Did you know that Iowa grants gun permits to blind applicants? They fear that not doing so would be in violation of the Americans with EyeglassesDisabilities Act.

Giving for All to See

Publishing the amounts people give to charity is old as the hills and must work. Proud of my new last name I learned my lesson when newly married a thousand years ago. I put my name on the envelope I dropped in the basket at church only to see it listed in the monthly published donations at the lowest level.

charityRecently I almost offered a modest online donation to celebrate a friend’s father’s life when I noticed that the site was publishing each donation and name. As $100 wasn’t the amount I had in mind, I passed. There’s no way to tell how much charities don’t get because of potential donors like me though I’m sure they’ve worked out that public pressure ups totals.

How Dumb Are Their Readers?

One design magazine has dogged me to renew my subscription at $24/year or a “special offer” of $48 for two. A blow-in card in every issue boasts a $15 offer for new subscribers. Hmmm.

Can you add to this list? All three examples are head scratchers to me. Your thoughts?

writing a check

Service of Magazine Subscriptions

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Carolyn Gatto, co-founder and publisher of, an award-winning family travel resource, was in the traditional magazine business for 25 years. She shared her recent experience and exasperation with the tangled world of magazine subscription renewals and wrote:


“I just spent 20 frustrating minutes on the phone with two different customer service folks as I tried to renew my own and a gift subscription to a magazine.


“I had to speak to two people because the first one disconnected me toward the end of the transaction. Arghh!”


Carolyn asked [and although her questions were rhetorical because she knows the answers, for the purpose of this post, I enjoyed answering them]: “Why do publishing companies send renewal reminders six months before a sub is due to expire?” My short answer: “Money. They get to use your money.” [I also wonder if you don’t get cheated on the length of the subscription by responding early. I mean, who keeps track?]


And then she asked: “Why do they offer one rate on the blow-in card, and varying rates on every renewal notice they send?” My answer: “Money. They want to get the most money they can.” 


She continued: “Why are renewing subscribers charged higher rates than new subscribers? Magazine publishing is one of the only businesses I know of that penalizes their most loyal customers.” My answer: “For money.”


But don’t let it happen to you. I noticed this discrepancy as well with a very expensive subscription to a weekly magazine I’ve enjoyed for years and I was so angry about it—incensed–that I wrote a letter and inserted the blow-in card with a low rate for first-time subscribers, the renewal notice quoting a higher rate and a check for the lower amount. They cashed the check and sent the magazine.


Carol concluded: “Is it any wonder the industry is in such dire straits?”


Do you have similar subscription tales? Are there other industries that penalize loyal customers?


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