Media Moves

Economist discovers it has been giving away free digital subscriptions

October 20, 2011

Posted by Chris Roush

Robert Andrews of PaidContent.org reports Thursday that the Economist next week will revoke premium digital subscriptions from some users after realizing it had been accidentally servicing them for free.

Andrews writes, “‘Unfortunately, we have been providing you with full digital access in error,’ the journal emailed users to say (see below). Some of those users had been getting a free ride for up to five years, according to tweets. The scale of the error is not clear.

“‘There was an error in our database which resulted in a number of people being assigned full subscription rights by mistake,’ Economist digital editions publisher Oscar Grut tells paidContent.

“The Economist‘s digital-only, multi-device subscription package costs £119.99/$110 per year, even though combined print and digital subscription is cheaper in the UK at least, at £102/$126.99.

“The Economist would not be the first media company to get its customer database in order. In 2006, a Virgin Media data cleanse resulted in it removing around 60,000 phantom customers from its books.

“Having done its cleansing, The Economist can now move forward with a revised iPad app that both takes subscriptions through iTunes and grants access to existing, legitimate subscribers.”

Read more here.

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