Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Doing Business With Magazines Is Painful

Ah, magazines. Can't live with them, can't live without them.

10 or more years ago, right around Christmas, I started getting notices from "American Handyman" demanding I pay for my subscription. Except I didn't have one. I offhandedly commented on that to my ex-inlaws (who weren't ex at the time). I found out my then mother-in-law got me a subscription to them for Christmas. But rather than sending me my issue from my paid up one-year subscription, they started sending me bills. Talk about confusing messages. I did not bother renewing after my gift subscription was up.

Last year, I started getting email from Forbes. I've always liked Forbes. My ex-inlaws had a subscription and let me read their magazines after they got done. So I figured, what the hell? I got a subscription of my own to Forbes. And while ordering online, I was offered another year for the same low, special price.

And of course, before I got my FIRST ISSUE, Forbes started sending me junk mail demanding I pay for my subscription. It was already paid up for two years. And of course, all along the way, I keep getting email and paper bills that my subscription is going to run out and I have to pay.

What the hell is going on with magazines? I am an expert in IT. I know how easy it is to keep a customer database to send timely reminders to subscribers AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME. I'm not falling for it.

Why are magazines such crappy businesses? I know a lot of them are dying. Maybe it should be that way.

When I was in the Navy back in the 90's, I came to appreciate Reader's Digest. I used to pick them up at the Navy Exchange or out in town. They were great. Then I got a subscription. And I will NEVER do business with them again.

First, I started getting sweepstakes notifications. Then they wanted to sell me on their condensed books. Then I started getting tons of junk calls from sweepstakes I apparently won, but had to release $400 on my credit card to receive.

Then, after paying my bills, I got past due notices. I finally cancelled, and like I said, I will NEVER do business with Reader's Digest again. I haven't bought a single issue since 1997, and have turned down free ones.

And don't get me started on Dr. Andrew Weil. At a point where I was researching alternative health stuff, I paid for a one-year subscription to his newsletter. Of course, I immediately started getting notices to pay. I got exactly two issues, then nothing. Go to hell, you dishonest "renegade Harvard-educated doctor". Never doing business with you again. You owe me 10 issues, nutjob.

Some magazines that come with memberships are OK. I get VFW magazine with no hassle. I get a few others from groups I belong to, again, with no hassle. But subscribing to an actual magazine? Way too much hassle.

Then there are digital magazines. They're all into that stupid flash based flip format, which totally sucks. Just give me a pdf that I can scroll. That's all I want. Productive Magazine is one example of this. I like their content, but I can't STAND their app. They used to provide a pdf, but now it's some flash based app that I don't like. When I try to scroll, I get to the bottom, and it suddenly flips the page. But I'm not done reading the last one. So I have to go back, but it takes me to the top, and I have to find where I was and try to avoid "flipping" to the next page. Too much trouble; not going to read anymore. Just give me a page at a time pdf and I'll come back.

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