November 12, 2018

Warning About The Boston Globe's Unscrupulous Behaviour Regarding Its Digital Subscriptions

The Boston Globe's behaviour regarding the way it charges customers for its digital subscriptions may not be criminal, but it is certainly unscrupulous and dishonest.

If you sign up (and pay for) a reduced-price subscription to the Globe's website, the explanation you receive about the offer will claim one thing, but the Globe's subsequent actions will be very different. Well before your trial period ends, you will be charged full-price for weeks or months beyond your initial purchase.

On October 25, after Game 2 of the World Series, I purchased a four-week subscription to the Globe at 99 cents per week. I was charged $3.96. According to the billing information at, I had access to the Globe until November 22.

I received a confirmation email. At the bottom, I read this: digital subscription is a credit card only offer. ... At the end of your introductory period, you will continue to be charged every 4 weeks for $27.72 (99¢/day) unless you cancel your subscription.

To avoid any additional charges, the Globe stated I had to cancel my subscription before November 22. Fair enough.

But this afternoon - November 12 - I received an email notifying me that Boston Globe Media Partners had charged me $27.72 for an additional month of access.

The Globe stated I would be charged "at the end of [my] introductory period" unless I cancelled my subscription. The company ignored its own policy and charged me 10 days early.

I immediately called the Globe and a customer service person said I would be refunded $27.72. However, it would take up to seven business days for the refund to appear on my credit card statement. ... So the Globe can charge me immediately when I order something (it does not take even seven minutes), but when I catch the Globe trying to pull some bullshit, it suddenly takes - not seven days - but seven business days, to correct their 'mistake'.

The Globe enjoys some additional interest on my money before they finally relent and give back to me what they never should have charged me in the first place. (The customer service person said the Globe always charges customers up to two weeks before the expiration of an offer. When I told her that was in direct contradiction to the Globe's own stated policy, she said: "I understand." Obviously, she has no control over her employer's policies and she may truly agree with me. I think the Globe should have its employees be a bit more honest and say: "Yeah, whatever, fuck you.")

All that is bad enough, but here's the kicker: I had cancelled the subscription last Wednesday (November 7)! And the Globe had provided me with a confirmation code: C114673!

So here is your warning: Not only will the Globe jump the gun and charge you well before when it stated they would charge you, but even if you cancel your four-week trial two weeks early, you run the very real risk of still being charged for something you never signed up for. If you are not in the habit of carefully reviewing your credit card statements, it could be months before you notice that the Globe never made your cancellation official. If that happens, you will likely not get a full refund, despite the Globe being 100% at fault.

All things considered, it might be best to get your news elsewhere.


the bus driver said...

Incredible, and it's a waste of time for you to manage all of this

Did you have similar issues with The Athletic (correct me if I am wrong, but I think you're a subscriber since sometimes you share links)? I am looking forward to subscribe, for hockey stuff (I know they have hired very good writers) but obviously for baseball as well. You like it?

allan said...

And the thing with the Globe is -- this is the second time it has happened this year. I went through the same thing this summer. This time, I was set to cancel early (since the WS was over), but they still beat me to the punch.

The Athletic is different. I actually do subscribe to that. Only for baseball, though. I love it. It's daily stuff, but more general than game stories. I really like the writers: Chad Jennings and Jen McCaffrey. They are superb at finding cool behind-the-scenes things to write about: like what the team had to do to get the metal plates for the standings when the Red Sox won 100+ games. They also often do "oral histories" of things like Mookie's 13-pitch at-bat or Benintendi's diving catch in the postseason. As you might surmise (from DLUWT), I like oral histories. It is a fantastic complement to whatever daily coverage you might have. ... Plus Rosenthal and Stark.

(And there you have a free commercial for The Athletic.)

laura k said...

Incredible, and it's a waste of time for you to manage all of this

This is the part that always bothers me the most. How much time is eaten up dealing with bad business practices of internet providers, telcos, etc etc etc. We don't have cable TV anymore (yay for streaming-only) but in the past, our cable companies were the worst offenders. Hours and hours of time that we are not compensated for in any way. Hate.

FenFan said...

Total and utter bull.. and Laura's point about cable providers is another good example. I had a similar experience where they offered me a free three-month movie subscription. When I told them that I don't usually watch those channels, the sales rep told me: "No worries, once the trial period ends, they just discontinue that service."

I never tuned in once in those three months. When the trial period did end, I check the bill and, lo and behind, I'm now getting charged for the service (at $15 per month). I called to complain and got a different story from the service rep (notice the difference): "Well, you need to let us know that you wanted to discontinue the service." I think what they meant to say was: "Sorry, we wanted to fuck you over and thought you wouldn't notice for a few months or longer."

I was simply given a credit on my next bill while they enjoyed the interest off their mistake. How wonderful...