Money-Saving Advice from a Washington Post Sports Columnist: “For Just $1.99 Per Week…”

For most of my 50 years in Washington I’ve subscribed to the Washington Post. I get up early, the dog and I retrieve the Post from the front yard. I then feed the dog, fix a cup of coffee, and read the paper. Reading the Post—especially the sports sectionis a great way to start the day and I routinely and happily renewed my subscription. In May it was $702.78 for another year.

That number did seem high—the annual sub rate was $360 when Jeff Bezos bought the paper four years ago. I suspected there were better deals out there but I was happy to support the Post and keep the printed paper alive.

Then a month ago I was at the breakfast table with my wife Jean. I was reading a Barry Svrluga sports column about the Washington Redskins and out of the blue he interrupted his column with:

(Frustrated by The Post’s online paywall? Why, did you know that, for just $1.99 per week, you get both home delivery of the printed newspaper and all the clicks you want? As many Mason Foster stories as you can handle. What a deal!)
I mentioned the unusual $1.99 a week circulation pitch in a sports column to Jean, who knew we were paying a lot more for the Post. Being the money person in our marriage, she promptly sent this email to Post circulation:

We have been Washington Post subscribers for nearly 50 years, we enjoy the paper, and on May 1 we renewed our subscription for one year, paying $702.78. Now I read in today’s Post (in a sports column) that the subscription rate for the Post is $1.99 a week, or just over $100 a year , and that includes both the print newspaper and digital access.

I’m assuming there was some mistake in the $702.78 we were charged four months ago. Would you cancel our $702.78 subscription, refund the amount remaining (about $400?) on that one year subscription renewal, and start a new subscription at the $1.99 a week price quoted in today’s paper.

P.S. We don’t need TV Week.
To the Post’s credit, they responded almost immediately:

Thank you for your response. We appreciate your continuous subscription with The Washington Post.

We have retained your Daily and Sunday subscription on a promotional rate of $98.66 for 52 weeks, effective 09/21/2017.  Please note that this promotion is guaranteed for 52 weeks only, and your rate will be switched to a regular price once the promo expires.

A refund for the amount of $326.96 will be issued to your credit card within 3-5 business days

If there is anything we can do to regain your subscription, please contact our Digital Department at (202)334-6100 (please make sure to press 6), and a representative will be happy to assist you.

Thank you from The Washington Post.

Several weeks later at a lunch of older journalists I mentioned the odd chain of events: A Post sports columnist telling readers we should be paying $100 a year for the paper and then the Post’s willingness to cut our sub rate by $600 a year. We  talked about what’s happening to print journalism and wondered where Jeff Bezos is taking the Post by almost giving the paper away.

A week later one of the journalists emailed to thank me for saving him $600 a year.  He said he had emailed the Post and included this: “With our advanced age and retirement income I find that the Post is growing far too expensive.”

The Post responded:

We have retained your Daily and Sunday delivery on a promotional rate of $98.43 for 52 weeks at $1.79 per week. An updated bill will be sent out to you reflecting your promotional rate. 
When I asked him about his $98.43 a year rate versus my $98.66 a year rate, he credited his advanced age argument.
 

Comments

  1. Paul Dickson says:

    We did the $99 last year and then it went to $700. We finally opted out and got the weekend plus digital for $49.00.
    So beware when the year is up and the bills come in again–$700 a year. Miss the paper but not the walk out to the road to fetch in February

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