Our bill for our 7-day newspaper subscription came: $281.52. Let’s take a look!
Last year, the cost was $122.14. That’s an increase of $159.38 — about 130 percent.
What didn’t accompany it was an explanation of the need for an increase.
The subscription includes what the paper calls 12 “premium editions” for an additional charge. That includes the Thanksgiving Day paper — which a reasonable person might think is included in a 7-day subscription — and the 1808 monthly magazine, which no longer exists.
Here is what getting 12 “premium editions” means: “The additional charges for premium editions will result in a slightly shortened subscription length in proportion to the additional charges.” Actually, “slightly shortened” translates to five weeks. So, what the bill calls a 52-week subscription is really 47 weeks.
And finally, the paper has tacked on $3.95 “subscription renewal charge” because we pay by mail.
(By the way, if you’re a new subscriber, you can get a year’s subscription for $86. Not available for a 35-year subscriber.)
I am not cancelling the paper because I believe in the importance of a local newspaper, I still have friends who work at the paper, and I can afford it. I worked at the newspaper a long time and I know the idea behind this: They know older subscribers won’t cancel because we’re addicted to print. But with a billing like that, I want to. I’m surprised that anyone renews.
I love my paper but I am not feeling appreciated. In fact, I’m feeling disrespected and taken advantage of in this relationship. What needs to happen?
*Explain in the renewal letter why the price has gone through the roof; don’t force me to pick up the phone to complain to someone in a call center who doesn’t know the answer.
*Stop hiding the additional fees for “premium editions”; no one knows which ones they are. They feel like you’re gouging me for something I am already paying for. And don’t make me opt out if I don’t want them.
*”Subscription Renewal Charge”? I don’t want you to have my credit card number and I don’t want you to automatically renew my subscription each year. Get rid of that.
*Make the business end of BH Media read this from Northwestern’s Spiegel Research Center. “Being able to move a reader to a subscriber, while important, has much less leverage and value than growing the long-term value of that subscriber,” said Tom Collinger, Spiegel’s Executive Director.
“Understanding and then working to grow lifetime value is a well-known goal and measure in the retail and e-commerce space,” said Collinger. (Customer Lifetime Value) is a “far newer and less familiar goal” in American news organizations, but it’s one they should embrace as customer revenue becomes more of a priority and advertising dollars become less of one, he said.