I have known for years that newspapers and magazines have different subscription offers at the same time, but it was only recently that I discovered that the difference could be 80 percent.
First of all, I love newspapers and news magazines, especially the Wall Street Journal. I start my day reading The Courant (yes even though we are in litigation) and the WSJ.
So when my WSJ subscription ran out I wanted to make sure I continued to receive it at home six days a week. I was first told it would cost me $400 to renew for one year. A little steep, but to me its necessary. I got many of my consumer and finance ideas for columns there (which I always give credit to).
But then I saw an ad in the WSJ saying I could get the paper for about $270. I signed up. Then I received a telephone call from a marketer for Dow Jones – the parent of the WSJ – offering me not only the print edition but also ALL the Internet, iPhone and iPad editions for $100 a year.
I said sign me up. Unfortunately she said I would have to put a stop on the WSJ order I had placed the previous week before I could accept her offer. She promised she would call me back later in the day to sign me up. I should have taken her telephone number.
I cancelled my week-old subscription, she never called, and there was no place to find a number for her since she was not really an employee at Dow Jones, she worked for a marketing company hired by Dow Jones.
So I was back to zero and had to but the WSJ at the grocery store at $2 a pop. I again called the WSJ and said I wanted a new subscription. Its $400 I was told. I explained about all the other offers, but it was like talking to a brick wall. The customer service rep said no such offers exist now.
I then demanded to talk to his supervisor, whom he grudgingly got on the phone. The supervisor quickly signed me up for one year, all the Internet versions, for $100.
Then I saw the following full-page ad in the WSJ offering JUST the Internet editions for $3.99 a week.
Later in the day I received the following offer from the WSJ in an email. Some of it did not copy, but you get the sense:
Trouble viewing or printing this message? Click here to view as a Web page.
When I clicked on the subscribe hot link, it took me to here, where it offered just the Internet editions for $3.99 a week.
And in the mail last week I received a letter from the WSJ offering to renew my subscription for $257.40 a year.
Now the WSJ is not doing anything different than most other newspapers and magazines. They all have different programs aimed at keeping and attracting new subscribers. And some have to do with whether you already subcribed, and how long had you stopped. Its just the more than 80 percent difference between one offer and another from the same company is kind of astounding.
I want the WSJ to succeed as well as The Courant and other newspapers and news magazines. But as long as they play these games with subscription prices, I want our readers to GET THE BEST PRICE, not the sucker price.
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