I yesterday took out a sub to the UK Times newspaper (thetimes.co.uk) to read something I needed. I was looking to see how easy it would be to unsubscribe (I don’t have any plans to – or rather I didn’t have any plans to – but I wanted to see how easy it would be should the need arise).
Couldn’t find anything, so contacted their live customer service. This was the exchange:
Customer Services: [Private Message to Guest] Hi, To cancel your subscription (subject to contract) you must call freephone 0800 018 5177 and select option 3 (for overseas customers call 0044 20 7711 1527). Opening hours: 0800 – 2000 Mon-Thur 0800 – 1900 Fri – Sun Regards name redacted
Soilman: [Private Message to Customer Services] Sad that a simple ‘unsubscribe’ option is one you’re too afraid to give. Already I have that nagging, nasty feeling that the day I DO try to unsubscribe I will find it incredibly difficult. Or worse, that I’ll find you stealing money from my credit card long, long after you’ve officially ‘unsubscribed’ me. That’s the message one infers, you see, from your current set-up.
Customer Services: [Private Message to Soilman] I apologise Soilman if that’s how you feel, however we are not thieves and we don’t like to be accused of being one. The reason that there is no tab there is because of the security involved allowing account access to members of the public. We hope to incorporate this as a feature at some point. If in the meantime you have any difficulty in cancelling your subscription or you find you have been overcharged please call 0800 018 5177 and press option 2 to report it. Regards name redacted
Soilman: [Private Message to Customer Services] Thanks name redacted. Appreciate your reply, but your bridling at my perfectly reasonable point – made in good faith – makes me even more worried than I was already. I’ve not been a customer for a day and I’m already being reprimanded by you. Wow.
If this is customer service, I wonder what customer abrasion looks like. The Times has had THREE YEARS to get used to the rigours of dealing with customers in the digital era of instant feedback and instant response.
What have they learned? Not much, on this evidence.
[Oh, and BTW: What exactly is ‘the security involved allowing account access to members of the public’? Isn’t that the same security protocol needed to access every other aspect of your account (which the Times otherwise provides)? How does one need more ‘security’ to cancel an account than to set one up and upgrade it… both of which, naturally, the Times allows?
I do so love having my intelligence insulted.]