Cancelling the NYT Sucks

Adventures in cancelling recurring billing.

You can’t cancel a subscription to The New York Times unless you phone them or talk to an online ‘Customer Care Advocate’. I hate that. They’re banking on people being put off and letting a subscription run, or being able to negotiate continuation. The only thing I’m allowed to do is update my billing information, which gave me an idea.

My bank allows me to create a small number of virtual MasterCards. The cards are linked to my bank account, but have different details and can be created and cancelled through the app. This seemed like a good time to try them out.

I updated my payment details to a freshly minted virtual MasterCard, cancelled it and sat back to see what happened.

Declined payments. It worked!

Bewildered by my non-payment, the NYT sends me an email which advises that I ‘act now to avoid cancellation’. Hurrah! They misunderstand my motive, but confirm that I’m on the right track.

One month later, and about fifty declined transactions, the NYT finally emails to tell me that they’ve cancelled my subscription.

Compare this experience to Dennis Publishing, who responded the next day to an emailed cancellation request, with confirmation it had been actioned. No faff. No bother.

The NYT is a fine newspaper, but this whole process makes it less likely that I will subscribe again in the future.