Bloomberg BusinessWeek could use a business lesson

Posted on Posted in business advice, COO, Marketing

I have been a Bloomberg BusinessWeek subscriber since 1975. I’ve also had The New York Times home delivery for over a decade. Both print subscriptions grant my wife and me digital rights access on both of our iPhones or iPads.

In March I decided that I’m so happy with my digital access that I no longer wanted to receive a print copy of BusinessWeek or the NY Times.

New York Times understands that eliminating the print delivery is a huge cost and environmental savings and simply allowed me to change my subscription to digital access only. Doing so drops the rate from $65 per month to $20 per month while still granting access to my wife and me on our individual iPads and iPhones. A simple phone call was all it took and the $480 annual savings almost paid for my iPad.

But BusinessWeek is another story altogether. When I called to change to digital-only service they said I’d have to cancel my print subscription and order a new subscription from the Apple App Store.

I mentioned to the agent that doing so would mean that BusinessWeek would lose all the business intelligence they have about a longtime subscriber. I couldn’t believe they’d want to do that and I asked to be transferred to a supervisor.

The supervisor confirmed that I’d have to cancel the print subscription and start over with a new digital subscription. So I canceled the print subscription and purchased the subscription from the App Store.

The BusinessWeek app is great but it does not allow for my wife to access the subscription from her iPhone or iPad. Plus, it took BusinessWeek two months and 4 calls from me to stop delivering the print addition, even though they refunded my pro-rata annual payment to my credit card immediately.

There is no 800 number to call for BusinessWeek’s App Store subscription so I submitted an email asking how I can get access for my wife on her iPad. That’s when I learned that it cannot be done. After a couple rounds of emails I was offered this response:

Thank you for your message. With a print subscription you are able to have up to 4 devices with an active subscription at one time, which is why your wife was able to use your account on her iPad. With iTunes subscriptions the Apple ID you purchased the subscription on, is the ID that owns the subscription and you can not link other IDs to that subscription (this is Apple policy).

The only work around I can think of that MAY work (but will be annoying) is to sign in to your Apple ID on your wife’s iPad to download the issues, then log back out and in to her Apple ID to do everything else. You can do this by going to the device’s settings -> Store (on left navigation panel) -> log in -> then download the issue… -> then go back and log out.

Of course this was unacceptable, but I just let it drop realizing the BusinessWeek is just being hopelessly dumb.

But today, it all came full circle when I received a letter in the mail from BusinessWeek offering me a “Welcome Back Discount Rate” if I would renew my old print subscription. Low and behold, they miss me! Obviously the print and digital departments are completely distinct and have no common subscriber information.

Am I the only one who finds it totally ironic that a supposed pillar of business knowledge could be so completely clueless about understanding customer relations and business intelligence? It’s clear that the right hand does not know what the left is doing at BusinessWeek. It’s also clear that they do not understand that a customer of 38 years is something to be cherished not forced away.

I was compelled to submit the following open letter to Bloomberg BusinessWeek and to write this article. I welcome your comments:

Dear Bloomberg BusinessWeek,

This is a follow-up message just to demonstrate that the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing at BW anymore. It’s time to wake up.

I just received a letter from BW offering a Welcome Back Discount Rate if I reinstate my print subscription.

If anyone there was thinking straight, they’d realize that I didn’t want to discontinue my subscription of 38 years, I was FORCED to because BW does not have an intelligent digital strategy. The print subscription includes digital rights for me and my spouse, but if I want to save paper and only have digital access I HAVE TO CANCEL my print subscription and order the digital subscription from the Apple App store. That’s what’s happened and your print subscription department is too dumb or out-of-the-loop to realize I substituted my print subscription with a digital subscription. Clearly, the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.

The worst part is by going to the digital subscription my wife lost her access to BW unless we go through the lame and annoying recommendation that you sent below.

For the umpteenth time, why can’t I just have a print subscription and you hold the delivery? NY Times has this. Even Burger King lets me have it my way. Wake up.

If this is some political thing between Bloomberg and Apple it’s time to “strap on some balls”, stand up to Apple and do the right thing for customers. Hire someone away from the NYTimes that knows how to get this done.

I would reinstate my print subscription, but only if I could get a discount for not sending the physical issue. I’m completely baffled why BW would want to lose the record of a loyal customer and, obviously, the print department is too.

As a publication dedicated to business intelligence, I’d say you all are acting pretty dumb. Figure it out already or, if you’d like to pass this message on to your superiors, I’d be glad to tell them what dopes they are being.

Thank you,

Donald Landwirth

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