Thursday, August 30, 2007

We will tell you what's premium, and you will like it

Today's front page has the big red ball "Premium in this edition" logo. I think I know what a premium is, but I don't know that the Enquirer does. Today's "premium," for instance, is the September calendar of events on the cover of the Life section. If a calendar tells you that the big event for Sept. 16 is the appearance by Loverboy at the hallowed Hamilton County Fairgrounds, should you call it a premium? This calendar also tells us that Sept. 10, 11, 13 and 27 are Premium Days, when we'll "enjoy holiday or bonus content in the Enquirer." Please, enter these dates into the calendar in your iPhone so you'll know to run out to your driveway that morning, gather the newspaper up in your arms and wallow in the wonderfulness of that day's Premium content. Can life get any better?

A premium is something extra, something special. Have the standards at the Enquirer sunk so low that a calendar is a bonus? When the paper devotes just six paragraphs to the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and Bush's trite speech in New Orleans, when the center of the front page is yet another weather story, when the new contestants on "Dancing With The Starts" get nearly as much coverage as Sen. Craig's troubles, a calendar looks like a premium. On most days the Enquirer delivers less that what people expect. When they provide something people expect, they think it's a premium.

UPDATE: The Enquirer this morning reported that its circulation is up 3.4 percent. That's remarkable, as the rest of the newspaper industry is shrinking, and there's news today that ad revenue is plummeting. There have been some very good comments on this topic, so the question now is how much of that circulation increase is attributable to this "premium" scam?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is "premium" is that it boosts paid circulation numbers by about 60,000 every time they do it. See, the Enquirer throws weekend-only customers the "premium" editions. They also charge for it over the amount the customer agreed too for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday papers. That makes it count as paid circulation.

Last year this happened almost once a week. With that many days in one week of September for this year, it looks like the gain for 2007 will be more than the 60,000 bump just once a week.

And, it is only in the fine print of the weekend subscription. These subscribers are guided to recurring credit card payments in the hope that the charges aren't noticed.

If the subscriber notices and complains, the sales push is go to a 7 day a week subscription because it is about the same cost. Or, if the subscriber insists, the Enquirer allows an exception. With that exception, the customer always has to watch their bill because systematically the Enquirer can't keep it straight.

Newsache, you have the definition of a premium completely correct. In this, the SUBSCRIBER is giving the the Enquirer the premium.

This blogs comments and others have urged subscribers to contact the Audit Bureau of Circulation about this practice. Not sure if the follow-though hasn't been there or what, but here is that contact information again:

ABC Headquarters
900 N. Meacham Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4968
Tel: 847-605-0909
Fax: 847-605-0483

This practice costs MORE than what is on the bill because advertisers pay more for the run in higher circulation. That cost is passed on to every consumer, with every purchase.

Think management at the Enquirer hasn't snickered about turning this trick? Think again.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s approved by ABC, but given the numbers of days that this covers a year it’s hardly the type of practice one would expect from an organization that derives so much of its value through a customer’s trust of it.

2007’s Premium/Bonus days have apparently increased by 14 to 54 this year, though the current rate card lists only 42. It doesn’t take a math whiz long to figure out how much this forced practice enhances the Enquirer’s “paid” circulation numbers – let alone that a significant majority of the recipients have no interest.

Subscribers and advertisers would be ticked if they knew how much they’re getting jacked around by this practice.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a scam and ripe for several varieties of lawsuits.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a lesson that could be learned here for Detroit? They should consider counting vehicle test drives as sold or as leased units thereby allowing them to return whatever declining model they'd like to top sold vehicle status. At least Detroit would be on firmer ground as people are actually asking to kick the tires versus what's being freely kicked to the curb by the Enquirer.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ABC did approve it but does ABC know that approval has been twisted?

An ABC audit forced the name change from "bonus" to "premium" because it was determined that the name "bonus" was deceiving. The reason that it was allowed to continue was because there was suppose to be premium content in that day's paper. Can printing a full page flag possibly count?

And is ABC aware that since the approval that the frequency has dramatically jumped? Might ABC question the the term "premium" if they were aware of the content or might they consider it deceiving that a weekend subscription is in reality an average of 4 papers per week?

2:02 PM  
Anonymous A Concerned Reader said...

The Enquirer's business page just published a short article about the ABC stating the newspaper's daily circulation had increased, by a little more than 3 percent, if I remember correctly.

Do you think this is accurate, or is it due to "jiggering of the books," so to speak? Any thoughts or comments?

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't the question about why Enquirer daily circulation numbers increasing by 3.4 percent have a self-fulfilling answer?

Knowing that the population is not increasing, can you think of anyone that would ASK for the problem of increased household trash?

This is like fried baloney served up as if it is a good cut...

Is it jiggered or "cooking the books: HMMMMM.... DUH.. ask yourself.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MB has said on more than one occassion that if she can't grow it, she'll buy it.

Premium issues, NIE, employee copies, Sunday Enquirer and Community Recorder/Press packages and all the other offers that have been feverishly pushed have obviously helped her to do so.

She should publish her year to year change in circulation revenue as that will tell more.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry to go off topic, but when the Enquirer's Customer Service center ws moved to Tulsa, does anyone know how much notice was given to those employees?

7:22 AM  

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