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Supersize Handyman--Deal or No Deal?
Old 10-17-2011, 07:48 PM   #1
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Supersize Handyman--Deal or No Deal?

Sure I have bigger better things to fuss about, but this irked me.
I know The Family Handyman magazine has lots of readers here, I am quite a fan myself.
So today I receive the November issue--and a letter: The letter sings the praises of the issue I hold in my hand. It has twice as many features--more pages that ever, yada, yada. In fact, they say, it is so big that they decided to treat it as a "special issue" and count it towards two of my regular issues. They promise to adjust (shorten) my subscription accordingly. Of course if I don't agree I can call and they will credit my subscription.

OK, on with the fact check. I compared this issue with the past two months. Sept and Oct both had 7 features. The Nov issue has 13. Page count for Sep and Oct is 112, while Nov has 128. So it is bigger, but we could quarrel with the size claim they make, but I won't.
However, all that aside, my heartburn is that they just arbitrarily shortened the term of my (paid for) subscription, and then told me if I didn't like it I could take the time to call.
This trick sounds like a good way for them to enhance their bottom line at our expense. Sell the advertising at a premium (special issue) save the mailing expense of mailing that extra issue, ( the one we are now not getting) and cause everyone's subscription to expire one month early.

Should I be upset, and if you are a subscriber, what will you do?

EDIT: Lo and behold, someone has already established a website bitching about this..
http://voiceacomplaint.com/2011/10/f...magazine-scam/
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:54 PM   #2
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I am not a subscriber. For the price of magazines these days, I'd think they should treat you like a prince. However, they are not so in your place I'd refuse to renew the subscription when it becomes due.
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:08 PM   #3
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I am not a subscriber. For the price of magazines these days, I'd think they should treat you like a prince. However, they are not so in your place I'd refuse to renew the subscription when it becomes due.
Yup, I'd be quick to terminate my subscription, but dang it, I like the magazine.
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:39 PM   #4
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Yup, I'd be quick to terminate my subscription, but dang it, I like the magazine.
Just call, tell them you don't like what they did and ask them to credit your subscription as they promised. If enough people do it then perhaps they won't do it again.
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Old 10-17-2011, 09:52 PM   #5
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Yup, I'd be quick to terminate my subscription, but dang it, I like the magazine.
Haven't seen my issue yet. It must still be on the slow boat.

I claim to read the articles but I'm really just looking at the ads for the big trucks & power tools.

They're very aggressive about subscriptions and renewals. I occasionally give gift subscriptions to friends and in return I'm mercilessly hassled to renew the "gift" each year.

A couple months ago I even got a call from a reseller telling me that it was time to renew. Very authoritative "Yep, do it now" attitude. When I mentioned that the subscription expired in 2013 I got an argument. I thanked him for calling, ended the call, and actually had to shut off the ringers to encourage him to stop calling.

At some point I'll get tired of reading the "Great Goofs" cartoons and cancel our subscription. The only magazines we'll have left will be the alumni rag and the lifetime U.S. Naval Institute "Proceedings".
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Old 10-17-2011, 09:58 PM   #6
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A couple months ago I even got a call from a reseller telling me that it was time to renew. Very authoritative "Yep, do it now" attitude. When I mentioned that the subscription expired in 2013 I got an argument. I thanked him for calling, ended the call, and actually had to shut off the ringers to encourage him to stop calling.
This is almost creepy.

I had that authoritative crap pulled on me at a car dealership when I took my Mom's car in for an oil change. They started telling me when I would be bringing it in and what I would have done. I never went back and I gave them a bad rating when GM sent me a card to fill out.
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Old 10-17-2011, 10:09 PM   #7
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I claim to read the articles but I'm really just looking at the ads for the big trucks & power tools.

.
Same thing I used to say about "Playboy."
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Old 10-18-2011, 12:03 AM   #8
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I gave up on TFH years ago. When I first subscribed to it, it had interesting and useful projects and features for real DIY people. Then they moved it "upscale", and it all changed. The articles became "Joe and Sueann hired an architech who designed for them... and handled XX, and their contractor told them..."

And articles where they would just get their feet wet on the topic, then say that they "recommend that you hire a professional..."

Oh yeah, like I needed to pay for a magazine to get crap like that. They also went to the "graphics", with a note about their new, fresh, easy to read look of the magazine, you will like it. Just gimmicks for less actual content.

Gee, do I sound a bit crabby? It was a good magazine, then a new crew came in to make "changes" to make it more "modern" and other worthless adjectives.

I let the subscription run out. They kept sending me issues, and notes about how much I would be missing if I didn't renew. I didn't even read them anymore, into the trash they went.

A DIY magazine should be DIY, not a Better Homes and Gardens looky looky.

So maybe losing subscribers they neared bankrupcy and revamped it once again, maybe it's better now, I don't know.

Gee, I sound a bit crabby, don't I? It was a good magazine, but then a new crew came in and made "changes" to update it and make it more "modern," "easy to read" and other worthless adjectives
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Old 10-18-2011, 12:17 AM   #9
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Same thing I used to say about "Playboy."
And to think I was worried that my metaphor was too subtle for this crowd...

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Originally Posted by Telly View Post
I gave up on TFH years ago. When I first subscribed to it, it had interesting and useful projects and features for real DIY people. Then they moved it "upscale", and it all changed. The articles became "Joe and Sueann hired an architech who designed for them... and handled XX, and their contractor told them..."

Gee, do I sound a bit crabby? It was a good magazine, then a new crew came in to make "changes" to make it more "modern" and other worthless adjectives.

I let the subscription run out. They kept sending me issues, and notes about how much I would be missing if I didn't renew. I didn't even read them anymore, into the trash they went.

A DIY magazine should be DIY, not a Better Homes and Gardens looky looky.

So maybe losing subscribers they neared bankrupcy and revamped it once again, maybe it's better now, I don't know.

Gee, I sound a bit crabby, don't I? It was a good magazine, but then a new crew came in and made "changes" to update it and make it more "modern," "easy to read" and other worthless adjectives
I asked spouse why we bothered to keep the subscription. (She seems to be unimpressed by big... trucks... and powerful... tools.) She says that she just reads it to learn about new products like all the varieties of painter's tape. It can be a bit overwhelming to encounter the new SharkBite display in Home Depot when you're in a hurry to fix a leak start a project, but I'm more likely to give it a try if I've read about it in FH first.

It's the only magazine to survive our house's subscription purge, and if you think FH was a pest about expiration then you ain't seen what Scientific American puts its unrenewing subscribers through. But I'd give up all the print issues in a heartbeat if they offered an iPad version for $4.99/year.
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Old 10-18-2011, 01:03 AM   #10
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I've been a long time subscriber to TV Guide and have been frustrated at getting 'double issues' all summer. I also love the 'this is the lowest price you'll ever be offered' post cards, come to find out it is cheaper to renew online as a new subscriber
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Old 10-18-2011, 01:42 AM   #11
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I would not be upset about it. Just continue reading my favorite magazine and enjoy my retirement. There are more important things to worry about.
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Should I be upset, and if you are a subscriber, what will you do?
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Old 10-18-2011, 06:55 AM   #12
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Jpatrick, thanks for posting this. I got the new issue and skimmed it, but missed the "this is really two issues" part.

I agree with the upscale criticisms, but I still find that it is the one homeowners' magazine that I still enjoy. It is mostly a tool catalog with a few hints sprinkled throughout, but I learn enough from each issue to justify the $12 a year.
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Old 10-18-2011, 07:10 AM   #13
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Should I be upset, and if you are a subscriber, what will you do?
The magazine is trying to deal with falling revenue by cutting cost. There may be more cost cutting ahead. If you enjoy the magazine and want it to survive and continue publishing you should acknowledge that, support the effort and help the publishers find the least painful (to you as reader) way to sustained financial viability.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:01 AM   #14
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It's the only magazine to survive our house's subscription purge, and if you think FH was a pest about expiration then you ain't seen what Scientific American puts its unrenewing subscribers through. But I'd give up all the print issues in a heartbeat if they offered an iPad version for $4.99/year.
Another you might look at (or relook) is "This Old House."
About two years ago I took the bait for a 12 month subscription. I hated it and quit after 12 boring issues.
So here comes my May birthday and a gift subscirtion to "This Old House."
But Behold! It has changed --and for the better. IMO of course, but I find the articles much more applicable to my real world than the previous "how to restore 18th century columns."
Anyway, if a good deal comes your way, I'd give this improved version a look.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:06 AM   #15
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The magazine is trying to deal with falling revenue by cutting cost. There may be more cost cutting ahead. If you enjoy the magazine and want it to survive and continue publishing you should acknowledge that, support the effort and help the publishers find the least painful (to you as reader) way to sustained financial viability.
I get the cost cutting, I just don't buy the method. (netflix part II ?)
The only surprise I like these days is the blonde popping out of the cake, (still waiting,)
If they want to save, then say so at renewal. Go ahead cut issues, raise prices, or whatever, but skip the sneak attacts. The loyal will follow.
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:08 AM   #16
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You are right to be annoyed.
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:25 AM   #17
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Update:

I called the 800 number this AM hoping to vent a bit about the situation.
Not to be. After a lengthy hold (with scratchy music)I ended up in India with a one size fits all customer service person. After I got my check in the unhappy box, he was nice enough to give me a great opportunity to buy still more magazines and to share my email address..Sigh.

I should also note that the new subscriber cards that fall out of most magazines, do now contain fine print advising newcomers of the "special issue counts as two" deal. No heartburn over that, but the "gotcha" current subscribers got is just wrong.
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:53 AM   #18
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I would call and request my month back, plus an additional month back for my hassle. If they refused to give it, I would tell them I'd like to terminate the subscription, requesting a refund for the unsent months.

I am not going to do business with a company that pulls things like that.
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Old 10-18-2011, 12:37 PM   #19
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J... but I learn enough from each issue to justify the $12 a year.
$12?!? Dammit, I've been paying $19.98!
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Old 10-18-2011, 12:45 PM   #20
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$12?!? Dammit, I've been paying $19.98!
Family Handyman (1-year): Amazon.com: Magazines
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