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Friday, 05 April 2019 11:52

Wall Street Journal needs to get its digital act in order

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In 2019, the Wall Street Journal expects people in Australia to have a landline. In 2019, the Wall Street Journal expects people in Australia to have a landline. Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Despite being one of the bigger and older US mainstream media outlets, The Wall Street Journal appears to be unable to do the small things right and manage its digital subscribers properly.

A couple of months back, this writer subscribed to the newspaper as it was offering a discount for two months. All was fine until a decision was made to unsubscribe at the beginning of this month.

The WSJ sets accounts to renew automatically and this writer had no desire to continue reading material that has become markedly right-wing since the publication was bought by American media titan Rupert Murdoch.

But it was not possible to cancel one's subscription as the software used by the WSJ to manage its digital subscriptions refused to recognise the email address that had been used at the time of subscribing - even though the same email address was present in the customer details.

An email was sent to the support address provided, only for this writer to receive a response that said: "Due to security reasons, we are unable to accept cancellations by e-mail or by any other means other than calling Customer Service.

"Please kindly contact Wall Street Journal Asia Customer Service with your subscription number and/or login details. Our customer service representatives will be more than happy to assist."

The catch is that Australian subscribers can only call the number provided from a landline or from BT's mobile network. Exactly why BT was specified for Australian customers is unknown. The WSJ apparently still thinks Australia is a British colony.

An email was then sent, asking if the WSJ built up its subscriber numbers by preventing people from cancelling subscriptions when they wanted to.

A phone call from someone who could barely speak English followed and somehow this individual was made aware of what was being requested.

The WSJ seems to be stuck in the past if it expects people to have a landline these days. Sure, Australia is backward in many ways, but a landline?

If a publication of this vintage cannot get its online setup right, and wastes people's time with incorrect information, why is it offering digital subscriptions at all?

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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