Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The FT's thoughts on my pricing post

I had a nice email from the FT today in response to this previous item (posted with permission):
Hi Leigh
Sorry to hear about your recent subscription problems. I thought I might try and explain a couple of the oddities you encountered in your renewal process.
When we moved to a 'metered' access model for in November 2007, we upgraded all of our long-standing customers, like yourself, to the newly-created 'Premium' service level. We did this so that you wouldn't lose access to parts of the site, like Lex, that had been included in your old subscription package. Naturally, we kept you on the same 'old' rate.
By the time your subscription fell due for renewal, your 'old' rate had fallen considerably behind the £25.99 a month we charge new 'Premium' subscribers, and even behind the £17.50 we charge new 'Standard' subscribers. Fortunately, you have a long history as a customer of the Financial Times and therefore qualify for special treatment - hence the £12.98 offer, or 50%-ish discount. I appreciate that a price increase is rarely welcome and I'm sorry that you have had a bad experience, but some legacy subscription offers are simply not sustainable given our commitment to invest in the product.
Since 2007 we've been working hard to upgrade the site and add new features such as the interactive portfolio, Lexicon glossary of financial terms, Editor's newsletter and the FT Newsmine email service. At the same time we've attempted to charge a fair price, which reflects the high quality content and services we try to deliver.
Our editorial team is over 500 strong and it includes some of the world's leading commentators on finance and business. It's an expensive resource to maintain and it's important that our prices reflect the costs we incur. Even after your recent rate increase, it will still cost you less than 50 pence per day to access some of the world's finest journalism. We feel strongly that this is excellent value for money - I hope you agree.
Please be assured that we do not upgrade customer's subscriptions by default at renewal, and that we scrutinise all our marketing efforts for even the perception of a 'bait-and-switch'. If you think any of our offers are misleading, I would like to hear about it and remedy it.
My reply:
Thanks - those are all fair comments.
I hope my blog post didn't come across as implying anything unfair on your part, though I guess I may have unduly emphasised my surprise at noticing the increase! I do agree that 12.98 is a perfectly reasonable price and was happy to renew at that rate.
It would be interesting to know the reaction of new subscribers to the £26 monthly price, though I appreciate that's probably commercially sensitive information. It sounds a little expensive to me but that's partly because I got used to the older £6.25 rate.
Could I post a copy of your email on my blog as a followup to the original article?
And the response:
by all means post, leigh
i only wish we had access to your kind of constructive engagement from more of our users
on new subscriber acquisition: i can tell you that we're attracting a lot more new customers than we were this time last year - but a raft of marketing and product development initiatives are influencing that, not just price.
So no discounts! But as you can see, I wasn't really asking for one. Congratulations to the FT (or at least to this particular individual, but I do think he is representative of the culture there) for listening, and for a constructive and informative response.

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