The Boston Globe’s Sinister Plan To Alienate Print Subscribers

If the Boston Globe is like every other daily in the country, it still relies on the print product for a huge chunk of its revenue. Yet the paper seems to be doing everything it can to alienate the people who still prefer a newspaper dropped on their driveway or doorstep every morning.

And I’m not talking about the massive delivery problems the Globe had last year when it switched distribution companies. I’m talking about a series of smaller policy changes that a lot of print subscribers may not have even noticed (but, like me, would probably be ticked if they had):

  • The Globe now charges a processing fee if you want to tip your carrier when you pay your bill by credit card. You can still avoid the fee by finding a way to give your carrier cash or a check, but this all seems pretty insulting to carriers and the people who appreciate what they do.
  • If you go on vacation for less than two weeks, the Globe no longer allows you to receive a credit on your account for the undelivered paper. The rationale from the paper is that print subscribers still have access to the digital product and they can keep up with news back home on the paper’s Web site or the Globe’s buggy, next-to-useless Press Reader app.
  • You also used to be able to donate those papers to News In Education program instead of getting a credit. The program used to deliver copies of papers to schools and offer teachers lesson plans built around the paper’s content and current events. My own newspaper addiction was partly fed by my elementary school participating in this program in 1985. When I posted a question about donating papers on the Globe’s subscriber Facebook group, I was told by customer service NIE is under the Globe Foundation and I could make donations directly to the foundation.

They have presumably discontinued the program where they distribute papers to schools (I haven’t seen it at Bridgewater State University, where students used to be able to get free copies, in over a year. They can, however, still get free copies of the New York Times every weekday). And that probably makes sense, even if it does make me sad. I can;t imagine scads of teachers clamoring for copies of the paper as a way of engaging their students.

The Globe’s response to my question about NIE was made publicly on their semi-private subscriber Facebook page. When I asked someone I know who works for customer service about the inability to make donations, he told me sardonically “Well, now you’re just making donations directly to the Globe.”