The Times and The Sunday Times learning about having 'customers' not 'readers'

 by Martin Belam, 3 August 2010

I mentioned yesterday how maybe The Sunday Times paywall meant that AA Gill's review of Clare Balding's new show was not being widely read, despite having generated controversy over allegations of homophobia.

Actually, had I been aware of it sooner, I would have been in a position to read it, as, out of professional curiosity, I was one of those who stumped up a pound to take a 30 day trial of this brave new paywall world. I phoned to cancel it this week, before it tripped over into a regular and pricier subscription.

I must say I was dreading it. Rather like my previous experiences with phone contracts, BSkyB and, I was prepared to find out that I couldn't cancel without jumping through a number of hoops. You know, like calling a different premium rate line, being on hold for 20 minutes, then being told I needed to cancel in writing ten days before the trial ended, and that they only accepted post from carrier pigeons. That sort of thing.

Actually, it took one very simple phone call.

There didn't seem to be much verification of who I was beyond an email address, which suggested I might plausably be able to call up and cancel someone else's account, but it took less than a couple of minutes to do it.

It does at least seem that, with their 24/7 online support, and easy to use phone helpline, that now The Times and Sunday Time have 'customers' online, not just 'readers', they are working hard on the customer support user experience.


Hmm. If they truly wanted to work hard on the customer support experience, they'd give a way of cancelling your account online, through account management, rather than requiring a call in.

They're trying, I'll give them that, but they're still putting barriers in place to put you off unsubscribing.

Totally agree with Adam, although I'm happy to hear you didn't have to deal with the nightmares that come along with canceling most things these days.

Unkind souls might wonder aloud why their customer service line remains unbusy. Perhaps it doesn't have many people to deal with?

That's true. Does it mean that nowadays the profits of newspaper publishing are no longer got from advertising? Newspapers seem to focus on the volume of circulation to attract more advertisers.

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