The Cape Cod Times Bungles Its Renewal Effort
Who has direct contact with your customers?July 31, 2012 By Denny Hatch
We recently spent the weekend on Cape Cod.
Cape Cod is a dicey market for a newspaper—with roughly 215,000 population that doubles in the summer and is losing people faster than any other region in Massachusetts. The daily edition of the Cape Cod Times has a circulation of 37,522 and 41,902 on Sundays.
Twenty years ago, the paper had 60,000 paid readers while the population of the Cape has grown by 30,000 in that time.
Our friends Jack and Evie retired to Cape Cod 15 years ago, and two years ago decided to subscribe to the Cape Cod Times.
It's a good paper, with all the local goings-on and one of the best sports sections I have ever seen. Jack's deal: $38.40 every six weeks.
The bill would come and Jack would faithfully send a check.
At the end of the most recent six-week period, Jack got a bill for the following amount: 26 weeks for $158.60.
Jack wrote president and publisher Peter Meyer to say he was in receipt of his bill. The gist of Jack's letter:
"I signed up for six weeks at a time. We are retired. As senior citizens we receive our money monthly. We don't want to pay for six months at a time."
A few days later the phone rang as Evie was heading out the door.
The caller was from the circulation department of the Cape Cod Times. The caller said that the publisher received Jack's letter and that the paper was offering a lower price—$25.70 a month.
"That's very nice," said Evie. "Thank you. That will be fine."
"Which credit card would you like to use?"
"We always pay by check."
"This offer is only good if you give us your credit card."
"That means you'll automatically charge our credit card every month?"
"That's right. It's automatic. You don't have to think about it."
"We don't want anybody automatically charging our credit card. We'll pay by check."
"Then we'll have to cancel your subscription."
"Cancel it then."
The following week, John and Evie received a subscription invoice—FINAL NOTICE.