Magazine subscriptions

11 min readAug 17, 2021

Escape Room Edition

Remember that Friends episode where Ross and Chandler try to cancel a gym membership? Well, escaping subscriptions – for products, places, or online services – remains one of the ultimate consumer challenges!

We’ve all seen those Twitter threads and long rants about the hurdles subscribers have to jump to ditch a magazine. The New York Times, for better or worse, has a bit of a reputation for making escape as hard as possible (although, full disclosure, unsubscribing via iCloud and the app was straightforward for me). But I wanted to offer a new type of subscription-escape challenge, in the name of your entertainment: the London Review of Books.

It’s a bit niche, I know, but it had a major increase in membership numbers during the pandemic as people sought out new forms of entertainment (and freedom from the actual news). It’s genteel, isn’t it? The website is nice, in neutral tones. It’s about books, with a bit of politics thrown in, and the occasional poem. How bad could it be?

Read on to find out….

Rules of engagement

There are a few red flags that veterans of the subscription-escape sport will know only too well. Tricks to try to keep you, to tire you out, to make you really work for your freedom and to keep your money in their bank accounts for as long as possible. Things like:

  1. Just ignoring requests to cancel (incompetence, weaponised);
  2. The inability to cancel in the same way you subscribed (eg cancel via an online form if you subscribed that way);
  3. Unclear information about what you’re liable for and what you’re due back;
  4. Confusing part-way options to discourage you from leaving permanently (looking at you here, Facebook et al);
  5. Customer service reps misrepresenting the actual contract (might be authoritative, might sound like bluff and bluster); and
  6. Saying a refund will come but never actually processing it (back we come full circle to weaponised incompetence).

HE operations manager; Coach; Writer of many things; Runner. In no particular order.