The Times Newspaper – Deceptive Subscription Practices

I like The Times newspaper, they offer rich, engaging articles which are informative and a pleasure to read. I like their articles so much that I took out a contract with them, for a year – this included their web versions of their newspaper and their actual newspaper. Monday through Sunday. However, that is not what I’ve got. Instead of getting a newspaper delivered, I receive a book of vouchers through the post for the following month. I then have to drive to my local shop and “buy” a newspaper with a voucher. Really useful.

I phoned the subscriptions line up. Twice. The first time, I was on hold for 45 minutes before I gave up. The second time I reached a woman who told me that I was in a contract and I couldn’t cancel it. I challenged the contract with her and she told me that I could “only have a newspaper delivered if I lived within the boundaries of the M25″. The website doesn’t say anything of the sort and I told her that. She said it was in the “terms and conditions”. It isn’t, and even if it was, it would still be extremely deceptive.

This is just plain dishonest and I’ve captured their website signup process in screenshots below, to illustrate the point.

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 12.11.52

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 12.12.06

9 thoughts on “The Times Newspaper – Deceptive Subscription Practices

  1. S A Brained says:

    You need to check our facts!

    From the T&Cs:

    Q. How does newspaper delivery work?
    A. You can receive newspapers by delivery to your door by 7am in
    selected London postcodes (£3 charge per week).

    Perfectly clear and perfectly legal.

  2. admin says:

    @S A Brained:

    These are the T&C’s posted just below the page where you choose which package you’d like, or an extract at least:

    Home delivery (which carries additional charges) may be available in London on subscriptions which include print newspapers. Home delivery requires sufficient access to premises (as deemed by TNL). Home delivery can be cancelled at any time by TNL.

    Please explain how that is ‘perfectly clear and legal’.

    It’s obfuscated nonsense to try and legalise what is deception, it’s that simple. This would NEVER stand up in court. Never. Maybe it’ll be tested in court too, let’s see what happens.

    Why doesn’t your company throw a Javascript pop-up that says ‘NOTE: We don’t deliver to your area!’ or at least have a clear notice up which says ‘We only deliver in London’? And a years contract too. I wonder…. Hmmmm.

    Furthermore, it’s in a BLOCK of text which is in VERY small print, it’s confusing and very, very hard to read, if this is clear to you, then you must be some sort of deity – I’ve copied the text below which is taken DIRECTLY from the signup pages “Terms and conditions”.

    “Trial Offer Terms: Minimum 3 month contract applies to half price trial offer, thereafter a minimum 52 week contract applies at full pack price, unless cancelled. The savings calculation stated is relevant to the specified pack trial offer price only, and is based upon saving made per week against separately purchasing relevant newspapers at cover price and equivalent digital benefits at full price purchased from thetimes.co.uk. Terms and Conditions: Available to UK residents (excluding Channel Islands) aged 18 or over, except for digital only subscriptions which are available worldwide (TNL reserves the right to exclude certain territories from time to time). Introductory minimum trial period of up to three months may apply to new customers only (see selected trial offer for minimum period, price and details), and thereafter will automatically continue into a minimum 52 week contract at full pack price, unless cancelled. Except during a trial period (if applicable), all subscription packs have a minimum 52 week contract period (“Initial Period”) and such contract automatically continues thereafter, unless cancelled (please see cancellation information below). Prices quoted for monthly Direct Debit (DD for UK residents only). Additional charges apply to credit card payments. Where relevant, currency conversion values may fluctuate and conversion fees may be charged by the customer’s bank. Unless otherwise stated, the savings calculation stated is relevant to the specified pack(s) and is either based upon saving made per week against cover price or against the usual full pack price (as may be applicable). Special, trial or other types of offers may apply from time to time (see stated offer for details), subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time. Special, trial or other types of offers are not available to existing subscribers. TNL reserves the right to change the weekly/monthly subscription price and/or benefits with 30 days’ notice and affected customers may terminate their subscription within such notice period. Additional terms and conditions must be accepted prior to use of digital part of subscription and/or Times + (Times+ is only available to UK residents and is not available on the “Web Pack” (apart from the “Web Pack with Times+”)) and/or crosswordclub.co.uk (if applicable to your subscription), please see mytimesplus.co.uk, thetimes.co.uk, and crosswordclub.co.uk. All subscriptions are subject to English law and jurisdiction. Subscription holiday only applies to subscriptions which include print newspapers and is a pro-rated equivalent to 5 weeks newspaper holiday allowance (excluding customers who receive home delivery from their newsagent). Holiday allowance is not available on any trial period. Holiday allowance applies to each 52 week period (excluding any trial period), starting on the subscription start date. Allowance is paid as a credit to your account. To use allowance, 14 days’ notice must be given to TNL customer services and vouchers must be returned within 28 days. Unused allowance can’t be carried forward or refunded in any circumstances. Home delivery (which carries additional charges) may be available in London on subscriptions which include print newspapers. Home delivery requires sufficient access to premises (as deemed by TNL). Home delivery can be cancelled at any time by TNL. Any stated home delivery offer (if applicable) relates to the home delivery service charge only and not the subscription price. Your subscription is with Times Newspapers Limited (“TNL”). Cancellation information: Customers wishing to cancel during an introductory trial period may give notice any time during such period not to expire before the end of the minimum trial period by calling TNL customer services. Except during a trial period, to cancel call TNL customer services: (i) within first 7 days of start date of Initial Period (i.e. subscription start date); or (ii) giving 15 days’ notice not to expire before end of Initial Period; or if after Initial Period (iii) in the case of digital only subscriptions or home delivery (provided by TNL) customers by giving 15 days’ notice not to expire before the customer’s next billing payment date, or in the case of voucher customers by giving 15 days’ notice not to expire before end of the then current voucher booklet.”

  3. S A Brained says:

    Well I found the T& C very quickly. Tell you what, take them to court and see what happens. You are in the wrong.READ the details in future.

    No sympathy with you at all.

  4. S A Brained says:

    By the way I do not work for the Times or any related company. I dislike Murdoch intensely and would never by the Times or any of its sister papers or subscribe to his SKY TV co.

    That does not mean I can’t read T & Cs and understand them.

    Perhaps you’ll be a little more careful in future. Go on you’ve gone into print so put your money where your mouth is.Though you might be advised to try Trading standards first to save yourself some cash.

  5. admin says:

    Why did you say “our facts” in the first comment then? Also, if you don’t work for the newspaper or equivalents, why are you commenting?
    The T&C’s are there alright, but there is no home delivery specifics worth mentioning; so, I’m not really sure what you’re talking about.

  6. pianodoggie says:

    I second Administrator’s remarks; I find it intriguing that businesses can function in such a way as setting up unfair rules as well as forcing them upon their customers. The legal boundaries are somewhat arbituary; like parking restrictions, if signs are not clearly displayed then clearly there is a case for the client to fight on – it is the Organisation’s fault for not making it clear for their clients and therefore their T & C’s should not be regarded as legitimate.
    When clicking (accept T & C’s) button upon purchase no one would have given a signature so technically ANYONE could have click the button and therefore the client is not bound to them.

  7. pianodoggie says:

    having said that… it would simply cost you too much time (time is money), and money to go through the case – I would rather just take it up the chin and write a letter at your spare time to show your dismay and live to fight another day.

  8. Stephen Carter says:

    If you want the paper delivered, find your friendly local newsagent and hand them the whole bundle of vouchers. Pay them extra for the newspaper boy delivery, then go home and enjoy the delivery. I expect you get a discount on the cover price, which will pay for the delivery.

  9. admin says:

    @Stephen Carter, thanks for the advice, but why should I be the one to:

    1. Find a friendly newsagent
    2. Pay the additional charge for the delivery
    3. Try to negotiate a better price to offset the delivery

    If they did what they promised, none of these things would be necessary.

    The simple fact is is that they state that they deliver your newspaper to your door, but they do not. It’s a pack of lies, misselling at BEST.

    The whole thing is ridiculous and they won’t let you cancel your contract.

    I have nothing but contempt for The Times organisation et al.

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