Friday, November 24, 2006

Business 2.0, Customers Zero

I bought a cheap two-year subscription to Business 2.0 a while back; it expires in February.
Today I got a note informing me that they're about to renew my subscription "at the guaranteed low rate of 27% off the newsstand price" - $39.95 for 11 issues.

Hold it right there. That's four times my original rate of $10 a year.

On the newsstand this week, their current issue contains an insert card (you know, the ones that fall to the floor as soon as you pick up the issue) offering two years for $11.60 - Canadian. That's about one-seventh the "guaranteed low rate" they're offering me.

Yet on the back of my renewal notice, Business 2.0 promises me that "Your price is one of the lowest rates available to anyone, anywhere."

I can't imagine it's possible to find a higher rate. When I hit the Net to look, my first Google response offered a Canadian rate of $13.75 for 22 issues. That's a long way from the "outstanding savings" Business 2.0 is offering its most important customer - the paying subscriber who wants to renew.

(Maybe it's a selling feature for advertisers: "Our subscribers are so dumb they don't shop around. They'll pay any price you ask.")

Business 2.0 calls itself "The playbook for a new generation of leaders." In an era where we are supposed to be respecting and empowering existing customers as our most valuable asset, ripping them off doesn't quite seem to fit the 2.0 spirit.

Speaking as a veteran editor and publisher, a magazine subscription is the best entertainment or publishing bargain you can find (even at $39.95). But treating good customers this way is bad business.


Anonymous said...

Publishers have been flouting the principles of direct marketing for years. Ironically, though, it's Business 2.0 who haven't joined the 20th century, in this case.

I love magazines, but for me this practice conjures nails on a chalkboard.

Anonymous said...

It's segmenting the demand curve. And it's done all the time.

What's new is that with the Internet and reduced friction of information, customers are able to catch companies at their own game.

Anonymous said...

Rick, I read your entry about Biz 2.0 and felt sick to my stomach. Sure enough, I checked and I was sucker for four years. Thanks for pointing this unethical business practice out. Biz 2.0 is now two subscribers fewer. You may just start a subscriber backlash trend here. Power to the Blog!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this tip. I have a feeling it to most, if not all, magazine subscriptions across the board.

Rick Spence said...

Update, Jan. 15, 2007 (8 weeks later):
Business 2.0 blinked first. Since I did not respond to their "guaranteed low rate" of $39.95, they have now offered me an 11-issue subscription for $19.98.

Sadly, the smart money on the Net is still paying $12.

As an ex-magazine publisher, I can assure you that few magazines disrespect their readers this much.
It's just bad business.