Times Classic Sunday Pack 280% subscription hike

I have just received a letter indicating that my Times Classic Sunday Pack newspaper subscription, to which I have paid regularly for over 8 years, will rise from £10.83/month to £30.33/month with effect from 15/12/23 –  a 280% increase!   Are there any options apart from paying the increased rate or stopping subscribing?


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  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,776
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    Search for discount vouchers/codes?
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,258
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    As you’ve posted in consumer rights, are you asking whether you have a right to another option?
  • You could try calling to haggle.  Threatening to cancel might get the best deal, but you'd have to be prepared to cancel and wait for them to come back with an offer, if it's anything like ISPs.
  • pinkshoes
    pinkshoes Posts: 20,001
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    Buff_Bill said:

    I have just received a letter indicating that my Times Classic Sunday Pack newspaper subscription, to which I have paid regularly for over 8 years, will rise from £10.83/month to £30.33/month with effect from 15/12/23 –  a 280% increase!   Are there any options apart from paying the increased rate or stopping subscribing?


    I would suggest phoning them up and asking for a discount. If they are not forthcoming, then I would cancel and just go out and buy the Sunday Times from your newsagent. My parents have done this as their subscription has gone up so much.

    Unless of course you read the online paper which this includes access to, in which case you have no other options apart from trying to persuade them to discount it again. 
    Should've = Should HAVE (not 'of')
    Would've = Would HAVE (not 'of')

    No, I am not perfect, but yes I do judge people on their use of basic English language. If you didn't know the above, then learn it! (If English is your second language, then you are forgiven!)
  • I find myself in a similar situation to you and it would appear also many other long standing subscribers to the printed editions of either just The Sunday Times or both the Saturday edition of The Times and The Sunday Times. 

    I believe that I may be able to shed some light on what has been going on.
      
    Around eleven years ago, I took out a subscription to the Classic Sunday Pack. A little over over a year ago I received a letter, dated Oct 3 2022, from Will Orr, General Manager, Times Newspaper notifying me of an increase in the monthly subscription from £10.83 per month to £13.00 per month. That letter also informed me that "... to reward your loyalty, your subscription now includes unlimited access to our website, smart phone app and tablet app. .. ".

    I quite naturally assumed that, since it was described as a reward for loyalty, this enhanced digital access was being provided on the same for free basis as the existing limited access to the website that had, as far as I can recall, always been provided as part of the Classic Sunday Pack. That, however, it turns out was not to be the case.

    A week ago I received a
     letter, dated 30th October 2023, from Abdullah Ahmed, Director of Subscriptions, The Times and Sunday Times telling me, like you, that my monthly subscription would be going up from £13 per month, a small discount to the cover price of the printed Sunday paper, to £30.33 per month, a substantial premium over the cover price of the printed Sunday paper.  

    It would, in the light of this letter from 
    Abdullah Ahmed, therefore appear that what had actually happened 12 months ago was that my Classic Sunday Pack had been converted into a much more expensive  Digital +  Sunday paper subscription pack and that the price of said Digital + Sunday paper subscription pack had been discounted from its normal price, whatever that was, to £13.00 for 12 months.

    There had been absolutely nothing in the earlier letter from Will Orr to suggest that this had either already happened or was about to happen.  

    I do not know whether you have claimed any holiday stops over the last 12 months. However, if you have I would suggest that you check the rate at which the rebate on your holiday stops has been paid. The sequence of direct debits charged to my bank account over that period clearly indicates that, as a result of the conversion of my Classic Sunday Pack to a discounted Digital + Sunday paper subscription pack that the rebate that I have been getting on holiday stops has declined from an expected rate of around £3.00 per paper to an actual rate of £0.43 per paper. A year to two years earlier when the monthly price of the Classic Sunday Pack was £10.83 the rebate paid on holiday stops had been £2.50 per paper.  

    That would appear to be sufficient grounds for claiming that these more recent direct debits have been charged to my bank account on a basis that makes them invalid under the terms of the Direct Debit Guarantee scheme.   
  • born_again
    born_again Posts: 13,529
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    CNB001 said:
    I find myself in a similar situation to you and it would appear also many other long standing subscribers to the printed editions of either just The Sunday Times or both the Saturday edition of The Times and The Sunday Times. 

    I believe that I may be able to shed some light on what has been going on.
      
    Around eleven years ago, I took out a subscription to the Classic Sunday Pack. A little over over a year ago I received a letter, dated Oct 3 2022, from Will Orr, General Manager, Times Newspaper notifying me of an increase in the monthly subscription from £10.83 per month to £13.00 per month. That letter also informed me that "... to reward your loyalty, your subscription now includes unlimited access to our website, smart phone app and tablet app. .. ".

    I quite naturally assumed that, since it was described as a reward for loyalty, this enhanced digital access was being provided on the same for free basis as the existing limited access to the website that had, as far as I can recall, always been provided as part of the Classic Sunday Pack. That, however, it turns out was not to be the case.

    A week ago I received a letter, dated 30th October 2023, from Abdullah Ahmed, Director of Subscriptions, The Times and Sunday Times telling me, like you, that my monthly subscription would be going up from £13 per month, a small discount to the cover price of the printed Sunday paper, to £30.33 per month, a substantial premium over the cover price of the printed Sunday paper.  

    It would, in the light of this letter from Abdullah Ahmed, therefore appear that what had actually happened 12 months ago was that my Classic Sunday Pack had been converted into a much more expensive  Digital +  Sunday paper subscription pack and that the price of said Digital + Sunday paper subscription pack had been discounted from its normal price, whatever that was, to £13.00 for 12 months.

    There had been absolutely nothing in the earlier letter from Will Orr to suggest that this had either already happened or was about to happen.  

    I do not know whether you have claimed any holiday stops over the last 12 months. However, if you have I would suggest that you check the rate at which the rebate on your holiday stops has been paid. The sequence of direct debits charged to my bank account over that period clearly indicates that, as a result of the conversion of my Classic Sunday Pack to a discounted Digital + Sunday paper subscription pack that the rebate that I have been getting on holiday stops has declined from an expected rate of around £3.00 per paper to an actual rate of £0.43 per paper. A year to two years earlier when the monthly price of the Classic Sunday Pack was £10.83 the rebate paid on holiday stops had been £2.50 per paper.  

    That would appear to be sufficient grounds for claiming that these more recent direct debits have been charged to my bank account on a basis that makes them invalid under the terms of the Direct Debit Guarantee scheme.   
    https://www.directdebit.co.uk/direct-debit-explained/direct-debit-guarantee/
    • If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit the organisation will notify you (normally 10 working days) in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request the organisation to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request
    Of course the cost of postage has gone up a lot, as have costs or material's etc.
    Sunday Times print edition is £3.50.
    Life in the slow lane
  • deehell
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    I likewise had a £13 sub, which included coupons for the Sunday paper and online access - initially just for the Sunday Times, but that later became 7-day digital access.  Like you, I had the Ahmed letter which claimed "I want to be open about the changes we are making and why" without in any way explaining the "what" or the "why" other than to say that it was because of higher costs.  

    When I phoned up, I was told that in effect, this was a mistake, and I was offered a revised, lowered sub of £11.37, rising to £15.17 in February, after 3 months.  I still thought that was an expensive hike of 17% but I do appreciate quality journalism and was prepared to pay it.  

    Digital access via the app was removed earlier this week.  I thought it might be because of an upgrade to Android, so I contacted the ST.  I had the explanation that digital access was no longer included unless I paid £30.33 per month.  I pointed out that that was a 233% rise, and that wasn't what I was told.  The agent apologised that I'd been given the wrong info but said that was the lowest possible price, unless I stuck with a paper copy only.

    A quick Google shows you can pay £99 per annum if you sign up for 2 years for the digital version.  "New customers only" and another offer scheme shows £119 per annum, renewable at the same price.    The lower price would equate to £8.25 per month for digital only.  

    If another commercial organisation, say a financial services or utility regularly analysed in the ST Money section raised its prices by 233%, wrote misleading letters and misled its customers on the phone, the ST journalists would rightly criticise them.  Begs the question why they can't put their own house in order...

    I will either cancel or move to one of the digital offers above.

    Shame as Mr Ahmed is quoted in an article saying it costs 3-4x to acquire a new subscriber vs the cost of retaining an existing one... https://www.newsrewired.com/2023/05/23/subscription-retention-strategies-pain-points-and-remedies/
  • I called the care team and cancelled.  The telephone handling team are pleasant and helpful, but limited to a best offer of £15.16 a month, which is still way ahead of inflation - i checked the Bank of England inflation calculator and my 2013 cost of £8.67 a month would equate to £11.62 in 2023, which we are already well beyond at £13.  For £12.99 I can use Apple News+ with a rolling monthly commitment (and access other providers "beyond the paywall" content.  In the weeks until my subscription ends i will log into Apple News + using my existing Times login and subscription to see if i like the layout and content limitations.  I believe I can't see the daily quiz or puzzles or below the line comments - but that should save me a couple of hours over the week, so thanks to the Times for some time back in my days!  :smile: .
  • Peroni said:
    I called the care team and cancelled.  The telephone handling team are pleasant and helpful, but limited to a best offer of £15.16 a month, which is still way ahead of inflation - i checked the Bank of England inflation calculator and my 2013 cost of £8.67 a month would equate to £11.62 in 2023, which we are already well beyond at £13.  For £12.99 I can use Apple News+ with a rolling monthly commitment (and access other providers "beyond the paywall" content.  In the weeks until my subscription ends i will log into Apple News + using my existing Times login and subscription to see if i like the layout and content limitations.  I believe I can't see the daily quiz or puzzles or below the line comments - but that should save me a couple of hours over the week, so thanks to the Times for some time back in my days!  :smile: .
    Inflation is an average measure, so unless the price rises are contractually linked to a formal inflation measure, it's natural that prices for some products and services will outstrip inflation, and others won't get near it.
  • born_again
    born_again Posts: 13,529
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    1st class large letter 2013 101-250g £1.20
    Now £1.95 to £2.70 for the same weight.
    Life in the slow lane
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