The Web Should Make Subscription Management Easier
Breaking free of auto-renewal subjugation.
My grandfather passed away many years ago at the ripe old age of 88. He left a legacy that included perpetual fruitcakes (not referring to my brother, but to a multi-year post-death pre-paid Christmas delivery of doorstop cakes to everyone in the family). Â
This happening in the 1980s gave the family an annual holiday giggle and we wondered why grandpa did this (was it a six-year special or a legacy joke?). Since this was pre-Internet and, most likely, pre-credit card renewal, grandpa, likely wrote a check, mailed it and ultimately balanced his checkbook (a real book).
Which gets me to 2012 and other types of legacies. How about the legacy subscription? I spent an hour Saturday morning trying to cancel my Wall Street Journal subscription on its website. It isnâ€™t because I no longer want the Journal, itâ€™s because they have offered me (by mail) a far superior offer than my perpetual subscription that renews with my credit card.
As an aside, you would think that they had audience development and list managers who would de-dupe and catch this stuff.
But my catching it on Saturday didnâ€™t much matter. And that is because unless I want to telephone the Journalâ€™s subscription department, there is no way to cancel my subscription on their website (or at least none that I could find). While I am not suggesting anything sinister in Murdoch-land, I am suggesting that there may be some folks trying to think of me as one of those perpetual fruitcakes.
I am not picking on the Journalâ€”this is true for many publishers. I think it is time to own up to some not-so-great practices and adopt better ones. Auto-renewal is fine, but there does need to be an easier â€śoutâ€ť and an easier way to understand when you can get out without having to wait on a phone call or read endless Qs and As, particularly when you are given better offers. I do like the way some of the titles are set up in the iTunes Store. Esquire has nailed a very civilized way of getting in or out of a subscription online. So has the new Huffington. But then there is the always-elegant The Atlantic, which politely thanks me for my support for 10 issues but I canâ€™t figure out when my support began or ends.
The Web should up the game for publishers and subscription management. Right?
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