Wiley on Fortune List Again
Agents, Publishers and Loyalty

Is Customer Service Dead in the Magazine Business?

It was only a few weeks ago that I mentioned how ESPN the Magazine lost me as a loyal reader due to a gaping hole in their renewal process. They apparently decided it was cheaper to find a totally new customer than to remind me that my subscription had expired.

Earlier this week I noticed that something had gone wrong with my BusinessWeek subscription. I hadn’t received the last couple of issues and I was pretty sure my subscription hadn’t expired. Sure enough, their website confirmed I’m still good for several more months. After e-mailing their customer service department I was told the oddest thing: They had been trying to send me the issues but the post office was returning them due to a “mailing address issue”. They asked me if the address they had on file was still valid. I told them it’s the same address I’ve been at for the past 10 years and that every other magazine (except ESPN!) managed to get through just fine.

That’s not the best part. Their last reply said that they are “resuming service” for me with the next issue and extending my subscription for the missing issues. OK, the last part of that makes sense, but “resuming service” for me? Hello… Would it ever have occurred to them to let me know they were suspending my service to begin with?! I’m not sure at what point they made that decision, but they could have either e-mailed or called me first, especially since they have all my contact information in their system.

What’s up with in the magazine world? Are they feeling so much pressure from all the online content sites that they’ve radically dialed back their customer support and customer retention efforts? It sure seems that way to me.



Your story reminds me of something that happened to me about a year ago. I had subscribed to a (well known) magazine ($25/year) that was published 6 times per year. I had my first issue come in the mail about a month later. After that one issue, the magazine stopped coming altogether.
I contacted customer service only to find out that they stopped the printed issue of the magazine and for an additional $10.00, I could access the magazine online!! And, to add insult to injury, they wouldn't refund my subscription when I told them I wasn't interested!

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