My ugly breakup with The Economist

Have you ever broken up with someone and their reaction was so ugly that that it made you realize how glad you are to be out of the relationship?

Me either.

But that’s how I felt after dropping my subscription to The Economist magazine.

Here is the text of my final renewal notice:

Dear David Pennock,

Your timing could hardly be worse.

Just as the world is connecting,
opening up unprecedented opportunities …

…you go and break your connection to The Economist.

Is it the bottom line? Cost cutting? It’s true you’ll save a bit by cutting The Economist. But think what you’ll lose. Bottom lines don’t replace communication lines. Won’t you please use this opportunity to reinstate your subscription and restore your special world-connection?

Or, as I interpret it: “Please please please, you stupid cheapskate.” I guess there’s nothing like a pretentious magazine marketing department scorned.

Sorry, Economist, you have a lot going for you and I enjoyed our time together, but it’s time to move on.

11 thoughts on “My ugly breakup with The Economist”

  1. I broke up with the economist a long time ago and I didn’t receive any special letter — but it was more of an office fling so that’s probably why 🙂

  2. Thanks Dennis!

    Wow, so they’ve been at this since at least 2006!

    In the old days, perhaps I couldn’t blame them for giving it the old college try, one last shot with nothing left to lose.

    However in this day and age where everything is public and everyone has a pulpit (ironically, the age the Economist alludes to: “just as the world is connecting”), such tactics can backfire severly. Just ask AOL:

  3. Dear Mr Pennock,

    We noticed your recent blog post about the renewal letter you received from The Economist. We agree, the language is bad. We are discontinuing the use of this letter going forward, and will replace it with a message that makes clear how much we value readers like you.

    I hope when your anger subsides you will reconsider reading The Economist.

    Best regards,

    Alan Press
    Vice President of Marketing & Circulation

  4. Thanks Alan! My apologies: your comment got stuck in my Akismet spam folder for a few days.

    Thank you for your prompt and effective response.

    I guess blogplaining/freedbacking can actually work!

  5. David,
    Insightful. I just sent my subscription ‘invoice’ back with a letter to Mr. Press, with similar disappointment. I was offered a free trial run of the magazine for 6 editions. It looked interesting with timely topics so I took them up on it. As promised, the publication arrived right away, however so did an invoice for my 24 month subscription……Huh?, what happened to free?

    At any rate, I asked to be removed from receiving it because I was less than impressed with the marketing tactic but I found your entry helpful in understanding it may nnot be an isolated thing. BTW – I assume you have gone bankrupt and are living back in your mom’s basement since cancelling your subscription 🙂

  6. Please, I just want my copies of the Economist. After charging me twice last December for a renewal and a gift subscription, your fine magazine cancelled my subscription.
    I’ve been a subscriber for 14 years, and want the magazine. You keep sending me nice letters asking me to renew, but I’ve had no magazine since May 9-15, 2008.
    If you would refund my money I’ll subscribe anew under some other name.
    I can’t believe you do this to me, Alan!
    Alan D.

  7. Man, what a patronising message! Companies normally bend over backwards to try and retain customers planning on leaving – think about mobile phone companies – but here the approach seemed to be “you stupid imbecile, you don’t know what you’re missing out on!” They should offer an incentive to not quit (a couple of free issues for example).

    Also while it’s nice (ish) that they commented on this to apologise, I would have thought even at that stage they could have made a gesture to you of offering some freebie to win you back and by way of apology. Definite marketing/PR fail from The Economist I’d say.

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