I finally decided to pull the plug on my LA Times newspaper subscription yesterday. Understand that I’m a committed newspaper reader, and it was tough. I understand that newspapers have always had political points of view, but in recent years the Times has moved more and more Left until they read more like the in-house publication of the Democratic Party. In fact, one of the great LA Times stories of the last year was that when they dropped Left wing columnist Robert Sheer and started a weekly column by a single conservative writer – Jonah Goldberg – Barbara Streisand was so upset that she threaten to drop her subscription. That’s Hollywood for you. But more important, in the age of the Internet, I use the Feedly Reader and get a much broader perspective on the news, and I can get that anywhere on my iPad.
Apparently I’m not alone. When I called to cancel my subscription, it was like a tug-of-war to actually make it happen. Here’s my recollection of the conversation:
PC: I’m calling to cancel my subscription.
Times: OK, can you tell me why? Is there a reason?
PC: There are many, but your politics is one.
Times: OK, can you put that in an email and send it to us? Our editors would like to hear why you’re leaving and if you could send them an email I can promise you they’ll read it. (Then she went into a LONG email address that I was supposed to write down.)
PC: Listen, I’d just like to cancel my subscription.
Times: What if I reduce your price?
PC: What if you just cancel my subscription?
Times: How about $1 a week. I could drop your price all the way down to a dollar a week. How about that?
PC: I’m not interested in deals. Could you just do what I’m asking and cancel my subscription?
Times: OK, but what about the coupons? Do you use the coupons?
Times: The coupons are important. What if I send you a free subscription just of the coupons?
(At this point, she started throwing out all sorts of weird stuff that I didn’t even understand. Free coupons, or a Sunday only edition, or a Sunday only USA Today condensation or something that didn’t even make any sense.)
Finally I got rather direct and told her that I didn’t want to have this conversation, and could she just PLEASE cancel my account? At that point she was rather exasperated, but finally did what I asked. When I finally said goodbye, she slipped in:
“Well, let us know if you change your mind.”
It’s interesting that while newspapers like The Wall Street Journal are doing well, others – including are really struggling. I wonder how long the LA Times can hold out.