Couple of weeks back Fast Company had a great article on Jeff Bezos and Amazon. It went into depths on how the company sees the retail business, including logistics and how that can bring new added value to the whole company in new business areas. I liked the article so much, that I decided to take a closer look at Fast Company content as a potential subscriber.
I was glad to realise that it would be only $32.99 to subscribe to the printed magazine, and have it delivered to Finland. It would have been only $12.99 for the digital version, but I like the fact that it gets delivered home to be read. That’s a lot more of a notification than a pop-up on your iPad about a new issue being available for download.
So I went ahead with the subscription of the magazine on their website. I got to this form. As you can see, by default you are asked to order the All Access -package with 10 print issues delivered to you, 10 PDF issues and the iPad version. I chose the print subscription for $12.99 + $20 for delivery, which includes access to the iPad app as I’m not too keen on the PDFs.
I entered my credit card number with spacing like 1234 1234 1234 1234 and all the other information as necessary. After I clicked “Submit your order”, the form returned an error and asked me to fix the credit card number so that there are no spaces (I figured this part out myself). I went ahead with the change and clicked on “Submit your order” again. On the summary page I’m thanked for my order of the “All Access” version.
As soon as I saw the summary page contents, I realised the option for the subscription package had reset itself as I had re-entered the credit card number. Fast Company tricked me into buying the most expensive package!
Not a big problem I thought and decided to contact the customer support to sort things out. They got back to me within two days to tell me that I had been subscribed to the $32.99 Print Subscription package according to their records. I sent them the order summary, which I saved as I had a hunch this wouldn’t be all that easy to solve. In addition to the order summary, I sent them the two rows from my credit card statement, shown below.
The statement clearly shows that I have been charged the $39.99 in two different purchases. After this, I haven’t heard back from Fast Company at all.
$7 isn’t too much money, but it is the principle that bugs me. If you’re tricking customers in the first place to purchasing the most expensive package without their approval, it’s not a sustainable business model. Don’t blame the industry for your troubles if this is how you practice business.
In addition, if this is how you want to begin a year long relationship with a customer – those 10 issues better be pure gold and even then I’m not too keen on continuing my subscription, because I don’t want to signal companies like Fast Company that this kind of practice gets my approval.
Please keep reading Fast Company for free before they change their ways.
Update 9.9.2013: Fast company replied to me finally with the following e-mail;
Thank you for contacting Fast Company.
We received your refund request for a credit card payment made on your subscription.
We are in the process of forwarding this information to your credit card company. Please allow one or two statements for this information to appear.
If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all previous email correspondence.
Seems like it’s finally solved. Not sure if they’re going to fix the error on their site though.