Our family believes in paying for good journalism, so we have a few subscriptions – including the New York Times.
When we signed up, we got online access along with physical papers delivered on the weekend. But we almost never read the paper version anymore, and thought it a waste. So today I went online to change my subscription to all-digital.
But you can't.
You must actually call the New York Times and speak to someone. I had to call two phone numbers, speak to two robots, and two people. All together, it took me 15 minutes. Not forever, but the user experience was a C-minus at best.
Here's what I did:
• First I logged into my NYT account an poked around, and found this:
• No digital option listed there. So I Googled "nytimes digital only subscription" and ended up here:
• Perfect. That's what I want. I clicked "Basic" and got this:
• Ah, okay. Actually have to call. So I called the number on the screen. A recorded voice said that if I was already a subscriber, I had to hang up and call 1-800-NYTIMES.
• I hung up and called 1-800-NYTIMES.
• A robot voice asked me if my current subscription was home-delivery or digital. Mine is both. That wasn't an option. So I guessed home-delivery.
• The recorded voice said it didn't recognize my phone number. I could either enter another number or enter my NYTimes account number.
• I quickly went back to my browser, found my account number, and punched it in.
• After a long pause, the robot voice said, "I'm sorry. Please enter your nine-digit account number, including any leading zeros."
• Ooops. I carefully entered my account number again, but then realized that my account number is eight digits long and starts with a 3.
• "I'm sorry. Please enter your nine-digit account number, including any leading zeros."
• At a loss, I just sat there waiting for what to do next. The robot then sent me to a real human.
• A nice human got on the line and asked if I was a home-delivery or digital subscriber. I said "both" and explained that I wanted to go digital-only.
• She thanked me for getting both the Saturday and Sunday paper (I only get the Sunday paper), and said she had to transfer me to the home-delivery department.
• A new nice human got on the line, said she understood I wanted to switch to digital-only, and said first she had to ask if I had "any favorite sections" of the printed newspaper. A little confused, I said not really, I just want to go all-digital.
• Then, acknowledging that I probably didn't want what she was about to offer, she asked if would I be willing to stay on the Sunday-paper plan at a lower price. No thanks.
• She then explained that there were two digital options, one at $25/month that included cooking and crosswords, the other at $15/month which is everything but those. I took the more basic version.
• Because I wanted to use a new credit card, I had to read that to her over the phone. It didn't work.
• I then had to read it to her again, and she realized she had mistyped the card's 3-digit security code.
• Another minute or two and I was all set.
At the end, I asked the agent why I couldn't do all of this online.
"That," she said, "they are working on."
Let's hope so. Seems all of this could have been done with a couple of clicks.