Why newspapers are dying.

A simple answer:

They don’t care about their customers.

Now that’s a bold statement, but I’ll back it up.

I needed to check on my New York Times subscription, which is delivered in Canada by The Globe and Mail, a Canadian-based newspaper. So I went to their website to get the phone number for the circulation department.

No phone numbers on the main page. At the very bottom of the web page there is a fine print menu. I looked under Customer Care. No phone number for the circulation department, though there is a button to "Click to subscribe". I looked under Contact Us. There is no circulation department number, but there is a main number.

I call. The message gives me lots of information on how to dial an extension, but no way to reach the circulation department. I dial zero and ask the operator for "Circulation". I then wait on hold for five minutes because, though my call is important to them, all of their operators are busy.

Finally I get a person who lets me know the status of my paper. The Globe and Mail doesn’t care enough about its subscribers to make it easy to contact the circulation department. They might care about new subscribers, but ironically if you already have the internet connection required to click the "Subscribe" button, then you know you can just read the news online.

Now you might say that I could have just contacted the New York Times directly, as I am a subscriber. But as I’ve written before, the email they provide for their Senior VP of Circulation doesn’t actually go to the New York Times; it goes to Publishers Circulation Fulfillment Inc. The New York Times doesn’t even have a Senior VP of Circulation, and even if they did, he or she wouldn’t be taking your call.

Now I’m just one subscriber. I’m sure they won’t care if they lose my business. And maybe they won’t care if they lose a few more subscribers over this kind of thing. They’ll rail about how people don’t read newspapers anymore. They’ll complain about Google stealing their content.

And they’ll miss the fact that slowly, one by one, paid subscribers got tired of waiting for them to clean up their act. They found alternatives. And they left. How many have to leave before they notice that they themselves are the problem?

If it is too much trouble for you to serve your customers, then you don’t deserve them.


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