Dow Jones pulls a fast one . . .

I had a very odd experience with the usually web savvy customer service of Dow Jones.It seems they have pulled a bit of a bait & switch on their online readers, dropping the Barron’s online subscription from WSJ subscribers.

Now, I have no problem with separating the WSJ and Barron’s online into seperate subscriptions — it is their right to structure or charge whatever they like. However, I expect companies I do business with to make reasonable efforts to honor their contracts, and Dow Jones is no longer doing that.

Here are the details:

When I signed up for the WSJ online, I purchased both products: WSJ online, and Barron’s online for $99/year. That’s how they marketed it, that’s how it was advertised, and that’s how they sold it me. The WSJ is currently being promoted at $79 online, so the plus $20 for Barrons is essentially the same deal — only not for current subscribers.

I go to see something on Barron’s, and I no longer have access. What gives? — I just renewed in October. 

Call customer service — Imagine my astonishment when the customer service rep told me they are no longer honoring that deal. How can they do that? "The fine print of our agreement allows Dow Jones to change the terms at will."  Glad I don’t lease a car from these guys: Imagine of halfway through your lease, you receive an email from the dealer telling you the radio was no longer included — if you don’t pay more, they will electronically disable the radio. This is internet blackmail.

To sell two products together, and then demand more money halfway through the subscription is unethical; I expect it is likely to cost them some good will.

click for larger graphic

Barrons

Why not simply announce the two online products are no longer marketed together, and let whoever had a contract maintain their subscription until it expires? How much can they gain short term for the extra $20?

Now comes the funniest part of all:  After I discussed this with a customer service rep, I asked for a supervisor. During our conversation, I calmly told hm this was wrong, and asked what else he could do. For the $20 upgrade, IF YOU ASK FOR IT, they will throw in a 1 year print edition of Barron’s AT NO EXTRA COST. It normally sells for $149/yr. It was a no brainer — of course, I did it.

So instead of merely sending out a notice that once your sub expires, Barrons is a separate product, or making an offer to WSJ subscribers that was too good to refuse — 1 year of Barrons print and online for $20 — they instead pissed off every subscriber I know by cancelling the online version.

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Who is the customer service genius that thought this nonsense up? Send this idiot back to McKinsey, where they can work on developing the next Enron.

Not very smart. Dumb and sleazy ain’t a great combination in business (tho smart and unscrupulous can make you fabulously wealthy). I’m still a subscriber, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth . . .

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