A formal post for this weekend is to follow. Meanwhile, my experience this morning prompts me to muse on subscription services and the like.
The Telegraph is currently mired in the nightmare for all paid online services – a website outage (quite a prolonged one, in this case). But other outlets manage to develop their own nightmares.
A well-known outlet of this nature recently sent me a barrage of notifications that my subscription was due to expire. Whenever I tried to renew, I was told I could not do so. The reason? I still had a subscription. (The concept of ‘extension’ seemed not to have occurred to them.) Emails went unanswered. A promised live online presence was not, ultimately, present, or possibly not alive. Giving it up as a dead loss, I was pleased to note that access did not cease at the expiry date, and, indeed, digging around the odd corners of my subscription pages I found a date of June 2014, though it didn’t seem to be attached to anything significant. And, in any case, if June 2014 was the expiry date why was the computer sending me a barrage of notifications? It clearly had another date in mind.
Today iPad access ceased. It’s sort of a liminal period – end of year, end of quarter – so I assumed the expiry date situation had caught up with me. No special offers now, of course. I went through the process of subscribing (no ‘extant subscription’ problems this time) – a rather dodgy credit card entry point (‘something wrong with your number’ highlighted in red – click it, and the same number turns black, and gains a tick); and a rather annoying address entry mode (line 1, line 2, city, change country to NZ, boxes wiped, re-enter line 1, line 2, city). And an exhortation to ring an 0800 number (you’d have thought that a purveyor of 24/7 international news might offer an alternative international number at every opportunity). A stroppy email has gone off, but, well, see preceding paragraph…
Still, got there in the end (how much a month…?) – and I still have no iPad access, though the big machine has turned up trumps. Mind you, it might have come up trumps without all this fanfaronade of renewing. No wonder the Guardian dropped their subscription system (has the FT ever had one?).