In October 2004 I subscribed to the Far Eastern Economic Review. Only a few weeks after I subscribed I was informed that the magazine would cease to exist in its current form (due to more information being readily available online), and that I would be receiving a monthly magazine with more in-depth stories. The new magazine was not what I expected it to be (in-depth articles: yes, but too long and boring for me to read in my spare time), so I have cancelled the subscription in October 2005.
In November 2005 I then subscribed to BusinessWeek’s Asian Edition. And what happens? They close down as well a few weeks after signing up. I still have almost two years left on my subscription, but am not sure what to do now. They offer to give you a refund for any unmailed issues, or they can apply the refund to a subscription to the global edition.
I don’t really know what the difference is between the global edition and the Asia edition (probably not that big), but I was thinking about continuing my subscription anyway, because I like BusinessWeek’s way of reporting. But I need a few more details, such as if there is a difference in pricing between the two editions, and how long delivery would take to China. The letter I received did not say anything about this. Luckily they provided a phone number in Hong Kong (and an email address, but I want an answer right away, so I won’t use that), that I called this morning around 10 AM. But who do I get on the line? An answer machine: “Our offices are open from Monday to Friday, 9 AM to blablabla…”. It is probably a public holiday in Hong Kong, but that is no excuse. In such a situation where all current subscribers get a letter with a phone number in it, you have to make sure someone is answering the phone!
So I decide to go online and find the details there. One of the reasons BusinessWeek is not continuing its overseas editions is because more of its content is available online now. But that sure is not the case for this information, I surfed all over the site, but did not find it. Even worse, I get referred to the same phone number again! Does this magazine take itself seriously? If you are going to tell your customers that you close down an edition, you know that people need more information in order to decide what to do. You have to be prepared, and this magazine surely is not. This is a good way to ensure your customers will not re-subscribe to the global edition.