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Before buying a NYT subscription, here's what it'll take to cancel it (imgur.com)
1800 points by jandll 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 812 comments

Imagine having a business model so fragile that your only line of defense is to obscure the cancellation process through these tactics. Do they really think that they can curve their churn this way?

I mean best you’re doing is getting maybe another month or so of revenue from a customer who is just pushing the pain of cancelling because they are busy or lazy.

And at the end instead of getting what could be a dormant customer who can sign up later again, what you get is someone who hates your company.

What an incredibly stupid way to erode the brand of a publication, whose major asset to survive is precisely its brand.

Back in 2006 an AOL subscriber recorded their conversation with an AOL customer service agent while trying to cancel the service. It was really bad, way worse than this NYTimes process. The NYT wrote an article about the debacle [1] and had this to say about Netflix's great customer service and ease of cancellation, compared to AOL's awful service:

"Seeing how Netflix would be so protective of my time were I to leave makes me all the more unlikely to do so."

Maybe the NYT should take their own advice.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/02/business/yourmoney/02digi...

Netflix is notoriously generous here. They allegedly auto-cancel accounts that don't use the service for too long!


Interesting. I cancelled Netflix account 7 months ago and haven't used it since. A few days ago I received "Action needed: Reset your password" due to allegedly "suspicious sign-in". After changing the password and looking into the Recent activity, I couldn't see any suspicious recent login there. So I contacted the support and they said cancelled accounts are deleted after 10 months since cancellation. So now, with 3 months remaining, they apparently send a fake "suspicious sign-in" email in an attempt to convince me to re-activate the account. The email they sent was legit (no phishing) but there was near-zero probability of someone signing in because I used netflix-specific email address and randomly generated password for this account. EDIT: I also think they are breaking GDPR by keeping the account for 10 months after cancellation.

It sounds like there are two departments in Netflix working against each other. One is trying to make sure that customers have a positive experience (not paying for a service they don't use) and the other trying to retain revenue by any means necessary (sending fake security warnings to artificially trigger activity on an account).

Yes, it is really bad.

I cancelled my Netflix subscriptions for a few months, then tried to renew and cannot because of a bug in their Credit Card process. I have phoned and tweeted and online chatted etc... Their only solutions is for me to buy gift cards, which I won't.

In the meantime, they keep sending me emails every week to beg me to try Netflix again.

So Netflix spends money to promote to me, and to answer my support requests, while they won't do a thing about their broken payment process.

Sounds like a really interesting blog post that could also get their attention.

I'm not sure a blog would change anything.

How much more could I do (note that Netflix CS replies to the other person's reply in that thread): https://twitter.com/dorfsmay/status/1315402870661902336

Clearly, Tech (at least for payment processing), Marketing and Customer Services don't talk to each other.

>One is trying to make sure that customers have a positive experience

...and the other is the Netflix Specials department.

EDIT: Addendum so not to be too shitposty.

I think Netflix came to Denmark around 2013 or so, and the content at the time was pretty good. Now you have to wade through a swamp of third rate trash and maybe you're lucky to find something that isn't absolute garbage. My account will remain canceled.

Using services like Donotpay which generates credit card numbers that you can then freeze instantly might be the best solution for this. You can easily get an account when good content is recommended by friends etc then just switch off the card until you need to use the service. Cancelling is a lot of work.

I wish you saw more absurd situations like this in cyberpunk stories.

This mixture of trying to help the consumer to boost your image and sabotaging your own consumer-friendly process to drive up revenue is what late-stage capitalism is all about.

It's wild that Douglas Adams' and Infocom's Bureaucracy, an interactive fiction published in 1987, had precisely this sort of thing as more or less its whole subject matter. It's not quite exact to what we see today, of course; for one thing, it traffics in paper forms and mail-in cards, rather than web forms and obstructionist live chats. But its juxtaposition of saccharine platitudes and hostile apathy feels no less evergreen for the intervening decades.

You're right that the cyberpunk genre lacks a sufficient dose of this kind of absurdity. I think that derives in large part from its original popularizers - I'm thinking here of Gibson and Stephenson, in particular - being in such deadly earnest about everything. Gibson especially, being a literary author trafficking in genre, I think could fairly be blamed for this; Stephenson at least attempted a sense of humor in his most significant work, and sometimes even succeeded, but in his case I think it's more a flaw of worldbuilding in that the mechanisms of transition from the America of his present, to the micro-balkanized future he depicted, were insufficiently fleshed out and thus failed to capture the mounting absurdity of daily life that any such transition I think necessarily entails.

Perhaps that's a touch presentist of me, in the case of Snow Crash at least; after all, it was written in far less absurd days than these. Nonetheless, I think most who've followed have felt to some degree bound to emulate - not all, though; for example, the brilliant cyberpunk film The Fifth Element does spend deliberate effort to successfully, if briefly, depict the absurdity of life in such a dispensation.

Would that more works in the genre did the same, and in general that they would more broadly update their extrapolation of possible futures to look ahead from today, instead of from thirty or forty years ago. But that kind of work is very hard, so maybe it's not too much a surprise to see it done so rarely.

In general, my remark was less about absurdity and more about how the same set of incentives can produce both consumer-friendly and consumer-hostile behaviors, sometimes from the same company.

Cyberpunk stories tend to focus on the "consumer-hostile" part, whereas I think the superposition of the two and the permanent conflict between them is way more interesting.

(For instance, you almost never see review systems or consumer watchdogs in cyberpunk stories)

I think Brazil did a better job of this than The Fifth Element, but yeah, I'd love to read/see more modern equivalents. Recommendations welcome.

That's fair; I was tempted to say that The Fifth Element also a little bit prefigured "hopepunk", in that it is, in spite of everything, a love story with a happy ending. Brazil could maybe almost be considered the "black mirror" version of the same story, if you squint really hard at least.

In any case, I haven't watched either film in far too long. I should really remedy that soon!

Bureaucracy was very enjoyable. I wish he had released that same basic content in other forms. I often think of scenes from that game in everyday life; too few other people have ever played it.

Likewise. But it was so hard to get any work out of Adams, apparently [1], that it's no great surprise Bureaucracy only happened in the medium of IF.

Perhaps it's time for a reimagining - I could see it working really well as a collection of "websites" with "live chats" and "emails" and so forth, borrowing tools from the "alternate-reality game" style of organic viral marketing and turning them to an altogether nobler purpose. I think that'd be the right choice of medium to tell this sort of story today.

[1] https://www.filfre.net/2015/08/bureaucracy/

Its not ‘late stage capitalism’, its two uncoordinated groups in the same organization. Capitalism not required.

Damm, same thing happened to me. I initially thought I was going crazy that my password was hacked but something did not feel right about that suspicious sign in email.

I got one as well.

Ditto. It was a long dormant account. It used an old password so I logged in, changed it to a unique one, then logged out.

I’m not sure I’m ready to chalk it up to nefarious motives. But it is quite suspicious.

UPDATE: I've tried to log in again today with the password I reset yesterday and it no longer worked! xD So I've tried "reset password" again now and no reset password email is coming (I have checked Junk folder and even Exim SMTP logs - I can see the email from 17th there from Amazon SES but none from today).

Apparently someone from Netflix read my comments here and deactivated the account completely. :P Thanks! Sorry if I spoiled your clever marketing strategy but I think sending a fake "suspicious login" email and keeping cancelled accounts for 10 months is just not right.

I think the reasoning behind keeping those cancelled accounts for such a long time is to keep the account's watchlist and/or recently played items - I'm not sure about the latter, though.

Either way, I agree with you that this is not right.

Did you use Netflix on any devices? Maybe one of those was trying to connect.

I was thinking about it. The only place where the app was still installed was an Android tablet but no one has opened the app for many months (only me and my partner has access to the tablet and none of us opened the app). It could theoretically connect from the background by itself (I think android makes it possible for apps to run in the background) but when I tried to open the app the day after I got that email, it just displayed Update required screen (we don't auto-uldate apps on that tablet). And the suspicious login mentioned in the email was not recorded in the Recent Activity in the profile. Unfortunately I don't record all network activity on home network so can't 100% rule out this possibility but it seems unlikely to me that the app would try to connect from the background after couple of months by itself.

The email I received was "We’ve detected a suspicious sign-in to your Netflix account. Just to be safe we've reset your password and you’ll need to set a new one." with a button to "Set a new password".

It didn't mention any IP or geolocation as many other services say in such cases.

> I also think they are breaking GDPR by keeping the account for 10 months after cancellation.

Do you live in the US? GDPR does not apply to US companies serving US citizens. If you live in the EU, you might need to request account deletion, I think GDPR doesn't require that data is deleted, it gives Europeans the right to have their data deleted upon request. (I've read the entire code before but I don't remember the details on this point.)


If you live in the EU, you might need to request account deletion, I think GDPR doesn't require that data is deleted

GDPR also requires you to be able to cancel by the same way you signed up, so any company that doesn’t let you cancel online is in flagrant violation.

I assume you're referring to the NYT there, not Netflix? (It doesn't matter that much, because the situation is similar either way.)

NYT is a US company serving a US locale by it's very name. GDPR doesn't even automatically apply to European NYT subscribers, unless the NYT advertises directly to Europeans, or does EU business with EU offices*. The GDPR law is clear about this point, it is a protection for EU citizens regarding web sites and businesses that are focused on, directed and targeted toward EU citizens. It does not apply to interactions outside of the EU (aside from EU travelers visiting EU web sites), and it does not apply to web sites that originate outside the EU and are global that just happen to have visitors from the EU.

* The NYT might be advertising in the EU, I don't know. If it does, I'd be willing to bet that EU citizens are given an online mechanism to cancel, even though US citizens aren't...

GDPR doesn't even automatically apply to European NYT subscribers, unless the NYT advertises directly to Europeans

It definitely does have UK specific ads, I’ve seen them, and GDPR is grandfathered into UK law.

I cancelled mine by cancelling the PayPal, there was no other way to cancel without phoning them. There is no online cancellation even for those in GDPR jurisdictions.

I wouldn't call this generosity. This is the normal conduct of normal honest businesses.

Normal? What other business does that? I can’t think of one.

SkyDemon (a flight planning and navigation app) is a delight for subscribers:

* Subscriptions are for one year at a time, and have transparently indicated pricing. No "$2.71 per day, charged annually", no hidden tips, taxes or convenience fees.

* If you don't use the app for a few months, they auto-extend your subscription by an extra month as a courtesy.

* When your annual subscription is about to expire, they send a reminder a few weeks and another a few days before the expiration. If you don't renew, you get a final "Sorry to see you go, here's how to reactivate for $annual_price, if you don't renew we'll delete your stored data in a few months" email.

This is how subscriptions should work. They send an appropriate amount of notification at a good schedule to make sure you don't accidentally forget to renew, and don't pester you to death if you don't.

But please offer the option to autorenew. I don't want to have to spend time renewing all my subscriptions every year. I have my subscriptions for a good reason and see their charges every time -- if I want to cancel I'll do that.

This is similar to how Apple handles subs. You get notifications when subs are expiring or renewing, and if you cancel mid cycle you keep it for the remainder of the cycle usually, including free trials. Bonus, you can see all of your subs in one place, and cancel with a single tap.

If you don’t use Amazon Prime during the trial period (or over the year if you sign up for a year) Amazon auto refund you.

Also if you accidentally let your Prime roll over for another month and you try to cancel a few days later without having bought anything that month, they'll offer to refund the most recent payment. Happened to me a few weeks ago, I was surprised.

But canceling prime does not make you a non-customer for amazon. People tend to forget that. You can still order, you still have your account and the refund is an incentive to "come back" -- although you never left.

Not to criticize this behavior, just to set it into the proper context. Its just smart to see the potential customer in your cancellations anyway.

They actually refund rather than just cancel further payments?

I don't know about refunding here, but I love that whenever you cancel Prime, you receive a prorated refund for the unused portion of the period you had paid for.

That's actually what I meant - that's pretty good

If you haven't used any Prime features, Amazon will refund you in full


They choose to offer refunds but also to bury the unsubscribe button behind 5+ screens with misleading text and reminders of what you'll "lose".

Rather than good customer service, Amazon try to be generous on the visible aspects that people might talk about, but quietly cheat you with antipatterns.

The fact that it’s NOT normal to act reasonably should be telling us something.

Imagine if you had to go through this exhausting process in your personal life. After half an hour since asking your spouse to help with the dishes, your spouse finally says “now that we realize using paper plates will solve your problem of dirty dishes, is there anything else I can help you with?”

We wouldn’t tolerate that in our personal life so why do we in business? After all, corporations are people...

Reminds me of the quote “Being well adjusted to a sick society is not a measure of health”

I mean, they can afford it.

Their entire business model boils down to "exploit people's unrealistic expectations of themselves to make money". They obviously feel awkward about it, and they soften the blow a lot, which is to their credit, but at the end of the day this is where their money comes from.

We don't feel awkward about it! We're leaning into it hard. See https://blog.beeminder.com/focus and https://blog.beeminder.com/defail

But it's definitely not for everyone! If your reaction to Beeminder is "I would not do anything differently and just waste money" then you are probably right and should not use Beeminder. We've been around for about a decade which we think is evidence that there are people for whom it does work.

For anyone in the category you describe (tried Beeminder, found their expectations of themself to be unrealistic, quit Beeminder) we definitely want to talk to you.

Also calibrating self-expectations is one of things many users tell us is worth paying for.

Exactly. The normal SOP is to require a credit card at the beginning of the free trial period in hopes you will forget about it and allow them to keep charging every month.

Mine sometimes does. We also tend to refund recent payments liberally if, for example, someone who hasn't been using the app in a while asks to cancel just after they've renewed for another period.

Sure, it's a principle thing, treat our customers as we'd like to be treated ourselves. But it makes sense from a purely business point of view as well.

In return for giving up some small amount of subscription revenue by putting through a cancellation that was going to happen anyway a bit sooner, we generate positive sentiment. We often get a nice thank-you message back, with extra information about why someone was cancelling or hadn't been using the app recently.

We know for a fact that we have sometimes gained new customers from referrals by those people we helped out a little. Sometimes a former customer's situation changes again later and they come back to us, too.

And the reality is that particularly with online payment methods, there's also a small risk that someone will do a hostile chargeback without bothering to even try cancelling, particularly if they forgot about a subscription and changed their email address or something like that. Even if you've done nothing wrong and provide evidence accordingly, you have a good chance of losing a dispute anyway, and one way or another it ends up costing you more than it would have done to preemptively cancel a subscription that you knew wasn't being used for a long time.

This is from the perspective of a small business in a niche market, where there is definitely a sense of community and reputation does matter. We've met some of our customers in person, and there are many more mutual connections or friend-of-friend kinds of relationships that might be relevant one day. Maybe things work differently when you're running a huge business with a strong brand in a huge market; I've never done that, so I wouldn't know. But I honestly can't imagine why we'd want to run things any other way. There are few things more valuable to a business like ours than a good reputation in the community we cater for.

What a great attitude! I wish more businesses were like that. I had to leave a startup once, that I as a senior dev managed to drag to profitability, because I saw how they treated their customers.

It was such a sad experience- while helping out with the customer side I was wading through emails _begging_ to cancel their subscription. Some people were closing their bank accounts to do that, because the founders intentionally introduced dark patterns to hide the unsubscribe functionality.

I mean yeah they did get a fair amount of money from those schemes, but they did loose all of their senior devs in the process.

I was wading through emails _begging_ to cancel their subscription. Some people were closing their bank accounts to do that, because the founders intentionally introduced dark patterns to hide the unsubscribe functionality.

I personally don't think routine cancellation policy should even be up to the business. Deliberately preventing customers from cancelling a subscription that they are entitled to cancel, or making it unreasonably difficult or intimidating to do so, should be grounds for legal or regulatory intervention to protect consumer rights.

A basic rule along the lines that subscription services must provide a means of cancelling that would normally be no more demanding than the means of starting the same subscription seems fair to me.

I know you don't want to self-promote yourself needlessly here, but do you mind if I ask the name of your company?

With a positive attitude like yours, it seems like something I would want to know about.

Thank you, I appreciate the sentiment. Unfortunately if I told you that, I might inadvertently be outing other parties as well through my comment history, and I don't think that would be fair. I hope that our policies aren't that unusual anyway. We're just a small business run by real people and trying to treat our customers as real people too.

Banks and credit cards cancel inactive accounts.

My experience with this was having a dormant Chase account with like $100 in it, which they chipped away at, withdrawing the $4/mo fee or whatever, until the balance was at $0, whereupon it was immediately closed.

I'm not sure if this really counts for much in their favour.

I closed an account with Santander and they sent the remaining monies in it to another bank account.

Then they accepted a charge on the account from a subscription I had forgotten to move, even though the account was closed, and because my account was then in deficit decided to reactivate my account without letting me know. Then they charged me an overdraft fee and daily penalties, and then eventually sent me a bill with like £120 of charges.

I challenged it and had to speak on the phone to people for ages. Eventually they took the charges off as a "one-off gesture of good faith" which annoyed me, because it still implies that it was my mistake and not theirs.

Did you close the account manually or via the Switch Guarantee service? https://www.currentaccountswitch.co.uk

If signed up to the scheme (most are, including Santander), your old bank is responsible for passing on any deposits directly to your new bank account and the new bank is responsible for processing any transactions made using your old details. This carries on for, I believe 12 months.

I found the Switch Guarantee service to be excellent and believe it's a significant driver of innovation and competition in UK banking (which is far ahead of many other European countries in my experience).

My payees from my old bank were even transferred over to my new one.

(Current account = checking account to any non-UK readers.)

Ah, that's good to know for the future - I closed it manually. I wasn't told about this and didn't know about it - mind you it was a few years ago so not sure if this is a newer service.

Since 2013 although I don't know if Santander was in it from the start. I'd guess yes.

Wells Fargo "accidentally" failed to close my account when I went in person to close it--though they did give me a check for the balance and told me it was closed--and then when I realized six months later it wasn't actually closed, they tried to make me pay them 6 months worth of monthly fees before they would close it.

When I closed my Wells Fargo account, they took out all my money, charged me some account closing fee, which over-drafted and fell back to a credit card which now had a balance on it due to the overdraft and they told me they couldn't close my account. I think I ended up paying something like 130 dollars of fees just to close my account, but at that point they'd already screwed me over so many times that I just paid it all and walked out.

Terrible, terrible company.

Every person everywhere really needs to move all their money to credit unions, our banking system is so thoroughly fucked.

I closed a bank account in the UK in about 2001. I emptied it at an atm then walked into the bank to close it.

The cashier gave me all the cash I’d already taken from the account.

In the US, they would reopen your account without telling you and start charging you fees and/or interest on the amount they overpaid. I know this because it happened to me last year when American Express mistakenly refunded a credit to me twice when closing an account (one check and one bank transfer). I never even cashed the check but apparently that didn’t make a difference to them.

I really hope this is true, always nice to hear about the robbing happening in the opposite direction.

I gave the money back when I realised what had happened, which was about 5 minutes later.

Do you mean you got your balance twice?

Yes. I gave it back.

Ha, I had a bank account that I opened for one specific purpose then forgot to close. It was empty. They kept withdrawing account keeping fees, sending it into overdraft. Then they added overdraft fees. When I went to close it, they tried to badger me into paying all the fees first.

This is why I loved Simple Bank so much. No such fees; too bad they are shutting down.

Perhaps that's why they are shutting down?

No, they’re shutting down because their parent bank got bought by a bigger bank who likely wants the tech/team for something else.

I've no experience with the bank named and assume it is in the US, but for what it is worth, in the UK people hardly ever pay for bank accounts. It does appear to be viable, although I'm not sure how it works.

It's subsidised by eye watering fees on unarranged overdrafts. When the FCA and CMA looked into it several years ago, the banks claimed they couldn't reduce overdraft fees or they wouldn't be able to afford to offer free bank accounts any more. Some challenger banks wanted it to be forbidden to describe such accounts as 'free'.


Fascinating link, thank you!

Revenue from account fees must be peanuts, they make their money lending/investing/etc. deposits, in normal times interest rates are positive, so they might even pay for custom, getting more deposits, giving them more capital to make their money from.

Charging for bank accounts in North America is just like commission on retail brokers - everyone else is doing it, so why not? Eventually probably 'fintech startup challenger banks' with the novel idea of not charging will gain too much market share, and the big boys will scrap the fees too in order to compete (and barely feel it).

The big US banks each make over $1.5B in overdraft fees yearly. Fees on consumer accounts make up about 3-4% of the big banks annual income. Not as much as they make on consumer interest payments, but those are still some pretty big peanuts. I think they'd feel it if they scrapped fees.



I’ve had an empty Ally bank account open for at least a decade. Still get statements for it each month. Every time I’ve tried to close it, it’s accumulated $0.01 interest, which I have to transfer out before closing. That transfer takes a few days, so by the time I can close it, I’ve totally forgotten about it, or don’t have the will to go log in.

Leave it. If you're in CA (or some other states, but I know for CA) it'll get shut down after 5 years or so and the funds will go through escheatment to the state. Then you can go get them from the state. But you have to remember not to login and ignore all notices from them.

That’s part of of most states’ escheatment processes. Inactive bank accounts are typically closed after three years, and funds are given to the state to hold until you claim them.

You can't compare an inactive bank account or credit card with a monthly subscription.

They do. I bought a house with a cheque. It was the only cheque I’d ever written and it bounced. The bank had closed the account without telling me.

Fun times.

So did the bank close an account with a lot of money in it, or did you write a cheque for an empty account?

Ive slightly misstated it - they closed the cheque function on the account (although the account is still called a ‘cheque account’ now, 10+ years later). The account was active but no longer had a cheque book associated with it. However I had a physical cheque book.

Cheques basically don’t exist here in NZ now.

> normal honest

Well, which one is it? /j

Im not native english speaker, so i'm curious is word "notoriously" is used here properly. What i know "notoriously" means "known for something bad".

Notorious has at least two similar meanings; the more common one is "known unfavourably", the second meaning is a neutral "known", not positive or negative. Most people only see the word used in the negative light so shy from it in the neutral use case to avoid being ambiguous or assumed negativity.

Using it with an adjective to clarify the meaning here is fine.

As a non-native speaker, my understanding of "notorious" so far has been what you described as the neutral form. However, to me, it does have a slight connotation of obsession or "doing it so much as to be annoying".

I am obviously not an authoritative source on how words are understood, but just wanted to add this data point.

Yes, it's a weird use of notorious. The commenter could have said 'famously generous' instead.

It’s not weird for native English speakers and is commonly partnered with a positive term.

That could be “infamously”, no?

I was kind of surprised at how simple it was to cancel my Netflix account. I was even going to fill out the standard "why are you leaving?" box because I had some strong opinions on changes they had made but they didn't even have one.

No they aren't. I had my account stolen twice which took calls to customer service to get back and finally cancelled which took hours and you can't do online when you can't even log into your account. I have like $90 of fraudulent Netflix bills.

It looks like an editorial/opinion piece. (Just to be clear I went through the same process and I hate NYT)

AOL in the 90s was second only to phone companies for being able to scam retention people.

In our college house, we’d always run these rackets and get free plane tickets, CDs, tickets, etc. The phone companies were even better. At peak, we’d farm $300-600 a semester for switching long distance.

My favorite of the telco scams was from the bad old days of long distance companies called "I Don't Care"[0]. Apparently, a lot of people didn't care which carrier it was, so these asshats took it to the bank


I don’t understand. If AOL and telcos were scamming people, how did you make money off of their scams?

A popular scam was “slamming”. A “bad” phone company would use pressure tactics or lie and get people to sign up for ridiculous long distance plans... $5/minute or something like that.

The “loophole” on the consumer side was that of you lived with 5 roommates, you’d transfer the phone service every couple of months and then switch the long distance plans with a legit company like AT&T, Sprint, etc.

There was a period of time in the 90s where you would get a check or credit for switching... as much as $200-300! Long distance costs were in free fall and telcos were swimming in cash, so they decided to buy market share.

AOL was great when you were on a free trial and called saying you wanted to cancel but forgot. They just kept giving me another month. I was given maybe 6 months free when it should have been 3.

A friend used to work for a call center handling AOL cancelations. They had a goal of keeping 85% of the callers subscribed.

They've been wildly successful over the last several years and are dominating the competition in online subscriptions so I think the advice they've been acting on recently is working just fine.


I said the phrase "I want to cancel cable but keep internet" 23 times to a Time Warner retention specialist then their supervisor, and I may have talked to her supervisor, too. They get paid to ignore you and read back canned responses like "but what about your favorite channels?", "what about watching sports?", etc. It was the first time my girlfriend had ever seen me angry.

The worst experience I had with this involved 4 customer service representatives simply hanging up (after a 30+ minute wait) after exhausting their script. I simply recorded the final call, stopping paying the bill, and sent the documentation I had to the credit reference agency when the contract went into default

At some point they sent a debt collection agency, that was much less stressful than it sounds. They called me up, "you owe $telco money", "No I don't", "oh?", "Yes, I have complete documentation of cancelling it, but their CS reps kept hanging up. Sorry, you've been had.", "Oh, this again. Sorry to have bothered you.", never heard from the debt collection agency again.

I had a funny episode with TD when I was closing the bank account when I was leaving Canada for good.

Very hard to close the account, even in person. My point was to make sure that there is no recurring payments left on the account.

Similar bullshit. You ask to close the account, and they keep asking you back with a square face.

In the end, a year after I left Canada, I get a call from collectors saying that they have $600+ debt+penalties+interest on my allegedly closed credit card from a service the bank added itself, and that they set my credit score to zero.

Then I found that TD subscribed me on some bullshit "credit alert" right in the month when I asked for account closure.

An immediate WTF was how in the world my credit card was still active. In than latter came out that TD does not let people really close their CC accounts, only "stop them," which only amounts to just hiding you CC from web UI, and that you need specifically say that you want to "really close" the account, which I did. So, next time, if will ever set my foot in the country, I will need to ask them to "really, really, really close my account"

I had, surprisingly, the opposite experience when I exasperatedly wanted to cancel my BofA account. I had had it with their awful customer service and simply wanted to never do business with them again. I went into a branch expecting a difficult process. The teller had me all sorted and done in 5 minutes. I was impressed.

Errr, what's "TD"?

They're in the US as well, both as a bank and as one of the bigger brokerage firms, TD Ameritrade

TD is okay in the US as a bank.

Ameritrade is owned by Charles Schwab now with TD having a minority stake in Schwab. Before that TD had a 40% stake in Ameritrade.

Does this sort of thing still end up hurting your credit score though? I don't know how this actually works, but I feel like I've heard scary things about it.

If that invalid "debt" was still on your credit report you'd just file a dispute to have it removed.

When you remove an invalid debt, make sure that the bank doesn't sneak it back in. The banks "push" to the credit scoring companies on regular intervals, so although the credit scoring company-ies may remove it, unless the bank/source removes it from THEIR systems, it will be re-pushed 1-3-6 months later.

(source: Dave Ramsey's mentioned that in many of his radio shows/podcast episodes)

6 months seems like a long latency. I've been nervously eyeing mine due to a credit payment mishap in nov/dec (of under 2 dollars) that lead to what I expected was a 30 day late payment, but as of today it hasn't shown up on the credit reports (I check two bureaus). After reading your comment my paranoia is starting to resurface.

I don't see how the distinction matters to the individual consumer. It's interesting as an insight into how the credit scoring system is organized i guess

And then you have a slam dunk FCRA claim.

It's very difficult as a consumer to get things off your credit report. You may be able to do.it, but expect it to take months of effort. For many small debts, it's just not worth it (and I believe this is by design).

The one downside to cable now streaming, is that the answer I used in the past "I don't have a TV" no longer shuts them up. It used to be amazing; it seemingly broke their brains. The two, three times I had to use it, the rep fell silent for a solid 3-4 seconds, then "You...don't have a TV?" "That's right" "...okay, so that's just internet then" "Yes".

We have comcast and finally removed "tv" because the pricing changed from internet+tv = internet prices... to internet + tv = more.

The answer? was a streaming box. I expect to see a monthly rental fee for the streaming box...

Heh, comcast says the same thing. I was snookered into accepting a improved internet plan with "free HBO". Which after a few months added TV broadcast fee, and substantial other costs. I tried to move back and they literally said the are not an ISP and will not sell me an internet only plan.

I had to cancel the plan and have my "roommate" (actually my wife), start as a new customer to get an internet only plan.

That's so scummy (but also kind of funny, just the sheer audacity of Comcast). Honestly, I feel like that's so bald-faced and abusive on Comcast's part that the regulators might be interested in your story

I have a similar story with Spectrum/Charter.

I already had them for Internet access, but had DirecTV at the time for my TV.

They must have a quarterly quota to upsell to their subscriber base, so I'd get a call like clockwork every three months, pushing a cable TV package. Each time I'd tell them that the only reason I'm with DirecTV is because of Sunday Ticket (NFL package; exclusive to DTV). That always worked, until one day.

This sales rep responds with, "We have Redzone". I reply that it's not the same, and I really need the package I have with DTV. Then he says, "You know there are websites that stream all the games for free, right? Why not do that?"

Yeah, basically telling me to pirate the games.

... "That's a good point! Hell, I don't need any TV service at all then, right?"

If you ever need to cancel comcast, time warner or similar entirely and quickly, just tell them you're going to prison. No joke, it works.

"I'm going to prison, but I'd like to keep my internet"

Alexa, search for very small android phones suitable for the prison wallet.

Like the Jelly Pro? :)

Note the part about 'entirely'

I told AT&T I was moving out of the country. The very valiant retention specialist still offered a discount on text messages for a year.

That’s my go to for every cancellation, it’s better for the reps because they can log the reason as something unsalvageable.

what about moving to a cabin in the mountains, or actually just find a city where this ISP is not available?

The good old Walden story :)

Honestly, telling Comcast you've already switched to a new provider is the best way to cancel quickly.

> Me to retention person: Hi, I just switched to AT&T Fiber and I'm up and running, so I want to get rid of my Comcast internet.

> Rentention person: Is this the sort of sitation where you would move your Comcast internet to a new location?

> Me: No.

> Rentention person: Ohh, well in that case, I'll go ahead and cancel you're account. Ok done now.

Literally a 4 minute phone call including automated prompts.

Hopefully that bit of info doesn't get recorded into some system somewhere, and eventually make it out to other companies databases.

If it doesn't, trying to repair that damage could be an exercise in futility. :/

That seems really good advice. Next time I try to cancel my NYT subscription, I'll try that. I managed to do it entirely by email, but took 3 emails back and forth. Then in all the excitement of the 2020 US presidential election I subscribed again ... so the cycle will repeat.

P.S. there probably going to get a lot of people "going to prison" in the future so the scripts will include questions to out the fakers, who want to cancel without trouble.

There is this legendary Comcast cancellation recording you can commiserate with: https://soundcloud.com/ryan-block-10/comcastic-service

LOL, cable companies are the worst. I got Mediacom to cancel my non-working service and refund my money, but only after sending a completely deranged demand letter to them[1], copying their general counsel. And you know they googled me and found that I could back my threats before they did it.

[1] https://gowder.io/pgmediacom.pdf

times like this I imagine a cancellation service. Imagine paying $X to some Indian company that calls them and whenever they offer alternatives they just respond that they are not authorized to do that. Bonus if they have a think Indian accent that makes it somewhat hard to understand.

The only disadvantage is that you would probably have to give that company your billing information for that to work.

We can also imagine that Indian company you contract to also has a contract with your ISP. So one person is arguing with their coworker over canceling a plan, but they don’t know it. Like when cops go undercover on stings and end up attempting to arrest another cop on a different sting. Yes, that happens sometimes.

I've used "I'm moving out of the country" with great success.

There is no part of the government you can complain to, to put them on a shit list? Over here it’s called: The National Board for Consumer Disputes.

It keeps companies in line.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha let me tell you about a place called America, where everyone is "free" from regulation, so long as you own a company ...

I've had success pursuing bad i.e. potentially illegal cancellation practices by filing a complaint through the attorney general's office where the company is located.

In my case: 1) First I had a rough time cancelling my account _in person_ at a T-mobile store. The remote T-mobile employees in charge of cancellation kept hanging up on the T-mobile employees calling them from the store because cancellations are bad. This was so normal to the local T-mobile employees it was laughable to them. 2) T-mobile never cancelled my account - they suspended it...and didn't tell me! They reopened it 6 months later, charged me for a few months w/o notifying me, then sent the unpaid dues to a local debt collector. I only found out after being contacted by a debt collection agency.

I was able to get both T-mobile and the collection agency they work with to "look into it", but I could not get a direct answer from T-mobile about how to fix the situation after multiple calls to them, and the collection agency relied on T-mobile to strike the debt clean.

Bob Ferguson is the attorney general for Washington where T-mobile's HQ is. Bob is THE man in case you were wondering. After filing a complaint to his office, which was then forwarded to T-mobile, I heard back from someone at T-mobile specializing in these situations in a week's time and was informed the situation was fixed and the debt was removed from my credit report.

Wow, had similar. I cancelled online, they said my account was in good standing, nothing owed, and killed my t-mobile.com account.

A few months later I got a collections notice for $500 from t-mobile, went to a t-mobile store, said that my account looked weird, and they had recorded me as not owning my phone, despite a clear account history that I paid full price for the phone and didn't owe anything.

Still get collection notices, but it's now over 7 years, and my credit card recovered by some 70 points or so when it aged out.

FCRA claim for damages if you were denied credit or paid a higher price for something, like a mortgage or car insurance.

All these stories... is this an American-only thing and is common place? Because there’s no way that could happen here in Australia

I don’t know if it’s American-only, but it’s definitely common place in America. These stories are particularly bad but none of them are surprising to me.

I actually found the NYT cancellation process to be relatively painless to be honest. That’s how accustomed I am to painful cancellation experiences.

It’s mostly American. We don’t have their kind of credit rating system in Australia.

T-mobile can be dirty. The law specifically prohibits holding numbers hostage--but they found a way to try anyway. My employer had gone under, I wanted to keep my number. No problem with my employer, they released it. The problem was I was trying to port the number to a pre-paid T-mobile number (at the time you could buy 1000 minutes for $100/year, the unused minutes rolled over. For light use it was the best deal out there.) The port kept failing, though, puzzling the employees. I finally got the truth out of someone in a call center--there was a big bill owed (duh! But I wasn't the responsible party.) I pointed out that what they were doing was illegal, the person I was talking to didn't care.

A letter to the regulators, though, a few days later I got a call from a much more friendly person who made it work like it should have. It's amazing how much better companies behave when the regulators come calling.

This isn't the first time I've seen NYT cancellation process in my social feeds. It has to be a negative feedback loop cycle. People that read HN are absolutely the type that would consider paying for NYT (or at least the two cohorts have great overlap).

This cancellation process never considered the impact of internet cancel culture and rage reactions. It's far easier to damage a brand than it is to build it up.

> People that read HN are absolutely the type that would consider paying for NYT (or at least the two cohorts have great overlap).

?? I automatically assume that articles that are written by NYT, NewYorker, and The Guardian are complete BS and should be ignored.

0 journalism found there.

Wanna spend money somewhere? Spend it on The Atlantic or Bloomberg.

It didn't used to be this bad. The NYT revamped its editorial staff and got some controversial identity politics types (Google "sarah jeong tweets" and be your own judge), and also discovered that much like Fox News, running aggressive and inflammatory headlines and opinion pieces gets clicks.

It's depressing because the NYT was more of a mainstream liberal newspaper whose main crimes were a lack of critical attitude towards foreign policy (such as the weapons of mass destruction fiasco). Its domestic reporting was decent. Now the domestic reporting is pitting Americans against one another.

Interesting grouping. I would've put The Atlantic and The New Yorker in the reputable group, and Bloomberg in the BS group.

Cancer: CNN, FoxNews, Vice, The Guardian, Business Insider

Bad: NewYorker, New York Times, The Information

Not Bad: The Economist

Good: The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, The Politico (at least in the EU)

Very good: Reuters

> I automatically assume that articles that are written by NYT, NewYorker, and The Guardian are complete BS and should be ignored.

Can you please elaborate on why you feel that way?

The OP's claim is a little strong but in my case, it's a narrative and opinion pieces that melt in with the news. We used to have international and domestic news, and an Opinions section that had the narrative. Now, we have opinions mixed in all three, inflammatory headlines, and missing data (one-sidedness), with more extreme assertions in Opinions.

For a younger person, perhaps they wouldn't notice? I have been reading NYT and Guardian since the early 2000s, and canceled the NYT this summer when they failed to report really major events in NYC that didn't match narrative (looting and rioting that was directly observable for two days). I realized at that point we had a real problem.

The Guardian has always been more openly activist, and I have a lot of respect for their Snowden work. But Trump being in the front page for four years was a bit much.

I'm pretty happy with Reuters and to a lesser degree Bloomberg (whom I pay per month 7 times what I was paying for the NYT subscription).

How often do you see NYT articles on the front page? It is very rarely for me.

They've been trending the last couple days.

Last couple days have only one story from NYT with ore than 100 upvotes. I didn't bother with checking further than second page of results, but though there are lots of submissions, rarely they get more than a couple of upvotes.


> People that read HN are absolutely the type that would consider paying for NYT (or at least the two cohorts have great overlap).

Unlikely considering the general popularity of articles highlighting their incompetence/malfeasance. See: slatestarcodex articles of the last week

Honestly they got me for a couple of years with this. The $10/month digital subscription was hitting my credit card, but every time I tried to cancel I ran into issues. It took took quite a while before I got annoyed enough to put the effort in to actually cancel it.

It is such a scummy tactic. I tell everyone not to subscribe to NYT just based on that experience.

This happened to me with audible. They didn't have the cancel subscription on the app. Had to hunt for it on the site.

Was asked if i was suuuuuuure i wanted to leave, 3 separate times before it canceled.

Definitely not thinking of doing that again, or like i do for some streaming services, pay for a couple months, stop, then pay for a few more.

Utterly rediculous.

Another related dark pattern: When cancelling a Prime trial, Amazon makes it appear as if you're going to lose the Prime benefits immediately, not at the end of the trial, to keep you from cancelling early.

(It seems like you DO keep them until the end of the trial, but you only get told that after cancelling)

Together with their decreased support quality (agents barely understanding what I write + the typical "tell the customer what they want to hear so they go away and give you a good CSAT, by the time they realize you lied it won't matter for you anymore"), I have a _very_ low opinion of Amazon. They still have a service (delivery time), price (free shipping) and consistency advantage in many cases, but it's quickly shrinking, and I am much more likely to buy from alternative places if they can make a competitive offer.

Same story with a full Prime subscription, not just the free trial, they use several dark patterns to confuse you about what will happen when you actually hit the cancel button.

When I found myself slowly buying fewer things on Amazon a few years ago and decided to cancel Prime after many years as a subscriber, I was so grossed out by the cancellation process that I’ve actively avoided ordering from them ever since.

I just got fooled by another Amazon dark pattern and ended up with a Prime free trial I don’t want. Went to cancel it immediately, and wow so many hoops to jump through. Hopefully I did it right. If they end up forgetting I canceled they are getting a chargeback so fast it will make their heads spin.

Curious, I cancelled mine yesterday because they messed up my billing and wouldn't/couldn't unsuspend it¹, so the CS person suggested to cancel and resubscribe. I did have to confirm about three times that this is what I wanted to do, but in no case was it hidden or not obvious.

¹ it was a bit of a mess, they first tried to bill an empty credit card, but only notified me after several attempts when prime was actually suspended. I added a regular credit card, but they don't conform to the new EU rules about authentication so it just got declined. Again, they didn't tell me they were even trying. So I added a SEPA account which is possible through the UI, but apparently they required a credit card. In the end I just cancelled, and re-signed up under the amazon of the country I live in (which is fairly new, hence not doing it the first time.) At least I get another free trial month for the hassle.*

I cancelled it a couple of years ago so perhaps things have changed, but afaik I'm not alone in feeling it was intentionally designed to confuse...lots of scrolling, multiple buttons with slightly different wordings, confusing warnings about when exactly the benefits end.

Just the fact that I–a software engineer and longtime Amazon customer–felt compelled to open a new tab and Google questions about the cancellation process, seemed ridiculous to me. Plenty of less tech savvy folks are sure to have been confused, tricked or given up in the process.



FWIW this was amazon.de, it could be the flow there is different.

I've experienced the opposite with Amazon. If you complain about a product you've gotten they simply refund the full purchase price, no need to return the item or anything. I've even gotten months of prime refunded by telling them I forgot to cancel.

I assume that eating the cost of a bad purchase is cheaper for them than upsetting a long-term customer.

I've never had that experience with Amazon UK, they've always demanded that the broken / damaged item be returned.

On one occasion when I had to return an item I ended up £30 out of pocket because it had to go by courier instead of post, due to length. I had to argue with their customer support to obtain recompense despite it having been them who told me to send it courier. The item was only worth £80.

Nowadays I just use Amazon as a price baseline but shop elsewhere.

On returned items, both Amazon US and Amazon DE have been quite helpful. I think Amazon US is even more over-the-top, but I think the local retail standards for this are much higher in the US so it makes sense.

On memberships, I don't mind the Prime cancelling issues very much because they seem to always credit back a month if you later tell them you forgot to cancel. Unfortunately, there are annoying dark patterns when signing up, hiding the "No thanks" button when trying to get through an order, etc.

I just returned an item and they arranged for a courier to collect. They acknowledged the return after one day and credited my account the following day.

The only thing I noticed is they hide the collection options under a button. By default they encourage you to drop off at a depot or post office.

In my recent experience this has changed drastically. Amazon was on average the cheapest, fastest online marketplace I'd used, and any issues were resolved within an hour.

Now I'm still waiting for a product I ordered 3 months ago. The only option I have is contacting the seller - who doesn't respond. I wrote a review about the experience, which then got promptly removed.

More recently I've ordered a few things from multiple places, the one outstanding delivery is from Amazon, and now almost a week late. It'll probably be the last one; their obvious lack of interest regarding fake reviews, review resetting and obfuscation, misleading pricing, counterfeit products and the constantly shrinking number of quality products have taken a toll. More often than not products are shipped from China, making it a worse choice than many local competitors who may ask higher prices for delivery but at least ship in two days instead of two weeks, have a phone support hotline and a reason to care.

Very slowly but steadily the reasons I started using Amazon's platform eroded away until it became more or less a more approachable middleman for aliexpress dropshippers.

Signed up for some hosting online.

Cancelation apparently required a fax. Got a legal friend to help me write a scary letter.

Service was promptly canceled.

The other issue with audible cancellation is that you throw away your credits...but then if you try to spend 5-10 credits quickly it becomes challenging...so you don't cancel. lol

They say this, but your credits aren’t actually thrown away immediately (at least they weren’t in 2018 or thereabouts). I learned this by ending up in exactly the position you describe - trying to get rid of credits before canceling - except I gave up with one or two left. To my surprise, they were still there once I was done canceling.

When I cancelled audible, it wouldnt even let me use the app, let alone use credits I had

Stating the obvious here: it is a Service. When you stop the provision of a cellular service, you immediately lose access to the the service. If you have not consumed the remaining of your points/credit/etc. I find it hard that the service provider would be nice enough to let you consume them points/credit/etc.

Exceptions will exist, but the general rule is such.

> it is a Service.

No, it is subscription. Much like a magazine subscription, where you are purchasing the magazine each month, you are purchasing credits each month that you can use to buy audiobooks that you then own (yes yes, do you really “””own”””” things in the digital world of licenses, blah blah). So losing access to the app, and therefore the audiobooks you purchased, is not how it is supposed to work.

> is not how it is supposed to work

But THIS is how it works. This reality doesn't fit your paradigm. But the reality prevails.

In other words, when you stop paying them.. it stops. You can no longer consume the goods, past-present-future. You call it subscription. I call it a service. Because in my mind a subscription to a Newspaper is "News-as-a-Service. I stop paying Amazon, I lose the AWS. I stop paying the Economist, I lose access to all (present-past-future) issues.

Downvote all you want. Call it what you want. Still.. someone give me an example where the subscription ENDED, and they still have access to the Benefits. If not.. you're welcome. NaaS. Unless you get the paper-copy. Then you ACTUALLY bought the "News" and ONLY because YOU control the physical medium (the paper its printed on).

> someone give me an example where the subscription ENDED, and they still have access to the Benefits

Literally Audible. The person that couldn't access the app is not the norm and likely had some sort of problem. You can access the app after you cancel and can continue to download and listen to books you've already bought. That is why it is a subscription, not a service.

That's not how Audible works. You buy the credits with your subscription unlike an unlimited-consumption model such as Netflix. As a result, they have a policy of allowing credits to be used for a limited time after canceling: https://help.audible.com/s/article/do-i-keep-my-credits-if-i...

This is excellent info thank you!

This probably has to do with Apple charging 30% for any in-app payments so Audible didn’t bother implementing any payments / subscriptions functionality on their app.

When I canceled my audible subscription I wasn't aware that I also would loose my remaining 7 credits...

I will not subscribe again after this experience.

Same, then you get bombarded with ads on Amazon for a free trial despite the fact you're logged into your Amazon account and Amazon knows damn well you're not eligible for the free trial anymore. I quit Audible after prices stopped being related to length. At the $17 a pop for the three-hour books I was buying it was going to cost me $900 to get the whole series. Nope!

Ah, that must be famed "Beetlejuice(, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!)" technique.

> Do they really think that they can curve their churn this way?

I don't know. Ask Amazon[1] I guess?

My point is that it's wrong to attribute this to a "fragile" business model. It's just plain, old greed and contempt for the customer.

[1] https://www.techtimes.com/articles/255977/20210114/amazon-pr...

Its brand is about all it has going for it. It's the IBM of journalism. We like to think it's still a leader, but we're kidding ourselves in doing so.

To be fair, POWER 10 is an absolute beast. They did make the mistake of using a custom DRAM connection method (in itself actually good), for which there exists only one chip to translate it to normal DDR4. This chip uses someone else's IP for the DRAM controller part. This other company is against the system running with open firmware.

Apart from that, they're great.

I had this thought the other day - what was the last big story the NYT broke that wasn't Trump related in some way? Like, actual investigative work whether in local governments or in other countries. I can't think of a single significant story that the NYT itself broke and led the charge on

FWIW, they won a Pulitzer for this investigative story about NYC taxi drivers: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/19/nyregion/nyc-taxis-medall...

Good try, but just grep for Trump and you'll find the connection.

"Mr. Freidman, who was partners with Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, disclosed the plan in a 2012 speech at Yeshiva University. "

If you think this, you clearly don't read the NYT regularly.

I read it regularly and work there. I should edit my comment to say "recently"

Suggest you delete this comment to prevent your cancellation. You appear to be a rational but dirty not-good traitor after all. /s

You can't be cancelled if you never say you're sorry.

This is what throwaway credit card numbers are for. I'd like to see that concept become more mainstream. If you make it hard for me to cancel a service, fine. It's a single click in a well-designed financial app: delete card.

CapitalOne calls these "virtual numbers".

I think the primary feature is limiting the damage of a compromise.

It sounds great to also use this as a way for the customer to cancel service with an unwilling company, but I think in practice they may come after you with a collection agency.

Gyms will send you to collections for this, as not paying isn’t the same as canceling. I’d be afraid of the NYT doing the same.

SiriusXM did this exact thing to me. Temp credit card declined and they kept my service active and continued to try to collect from me. I wasted hours of my life going through this cluster.

> Do they really think that they can curve their churn this way?

I'd bet that a small percentage of cancellation requests are waylaid by these sorts of underhanded tactics. Even if the success rate is low, it's still not zero.

But are they measuring the effect of people telling their friends how bad the experience was, or posting it on HN?

>Do they really think that they can curve their churn this way?

Yes, because it actually does work. If you need proof, just call up one of these companies and say "I am cancelling because your service is too expensive." Odds are decent that you will get some type of promo offer to keep you. If there is any competition in your area for internet/cable and you have never done this, you are wasting money.

OP could have also had any number of other problems that could have been solved by these retention specialists. Basically they are doing the equivalent of an IT person asking if you have turned it off and back on again. That might be frustrating for the type of people who read HN and know better, but the reason they ask it is because there are legitimately issues that can be solved by this extremely basic level of support.

I get that ending the subscription is annoying and I wish they hadn't done it but claiming they have a "fragile" business model is just wrong.

They are WILDLY successful. Their operating profit jumped 28% last year and literally are blowing away the competition in overall subscriber numbers and growth. It's really not even close


As with many things in life, if it didn't work, they wouldn't do it.

So to answer your question, yes, it probably does reduce churn, if only slightly. Is there an occasional person who goes to try and cancel, runs into this byzantine process and then says, ah fuck it, I'll just stay subscribed so they don't have to deal with this bullshit? Yes, but probably only infrequently.

Instead, it infuriates all the rest who DO go thru the byzantine process and add more frustrating to whatever reason they were already intent on canceling from in the first place, as was demonstrated in this OP's chat transcript.

I wonder if this isn't a profitable practice though.

However much annoying these processes are (I had to suffer an identical Financial Times cancellation process last week) They know how much it costs to take cancelling users through an account specialist and presumably they get enough people to continue subscription to make it worth while.

A continuing paying customer now is worth far more than someone who may subscribe again in the future. And even if you're sick of their cancellation process, if you want to read NY Times news again you'll signup.

What they can't measure is the fact that I won't sign up in the first place because of their poor reputation.

My guess is there are a lot of potential subscribers reading stories like this and deciding not to bother with a subscription.

A question can to mind, and this is the answer:

Thousands of Americans Waste $348 a Year on Subscriptions They’re Not Using [0]

It makes perfect sense to have a 'shield' that will minimize the 'quitters'. And this article focuses on streaming services only.

People who want to leave a service are probably NOT coming back. So an effort to keep vs lose forever has little downside.


Edit/addition: regarding your ".. I wonder if this isn't a profitable practice though." Well they keep doing it, so.. at some point they ran the numbers and they saw it is better for them. Perhaps in 10y this may change, we will notice by the change of corporate practices. Profit will determine this.

I pay for a lot of subscription services like music- and film streaming, and SAAS-services but would never ever give my contact- and payment details to a newspaper or magazine. Newspapers and magazines brought their death on them self imo. People will pay for your service if they can trust them with their information, and not be harassed.

I just tell them I’m unemployed and wosh nobody wants to offer me any services at all.

In the past I've responded "it's personal" when they ask why I'm cancelling. That seems to work.

I bet there are one or two executives who decided it would be this way. They should be named and removed. This is a prime example of an issue with simple hierarchies: the single point of failure.

This is why we need a CPA with teeth. The should be that if you can sign up with a click on mobile, you can cancel the same way. The amount of regulatory capture in our plutocracy is maddening.

I had a similar thing with Comcast which kept referring me to their retention department and asking me to call.

I replied to them no less than 5 times, each time pointing out that (a) I don't have time for phone calls (b) their terms and conditions permits cancelling by e-mail.

Another way is to notify them once by e-mail to end your subscription per [insert T&C clause and citation] and just stop paying. If they don't get payment they'll stop anyway, and if they come chasing after you, you have the notification you sent.

comcast has been doing it for years, it seems to be working out pretty well for them?

I just cancelled and it was relatively painless, to their credit.

When they asked the reason, I said that political coverage was unfair. Left is OK, unfair is not.

I don't consider myself "on the left" but I really don't mind a publication being left of center or right of center. If it's good, I will pay for it (I subscribed tp The Atlantic at least twice, and the New Yorker once, and probably others in a mix of print and digital).

But the NYT has drifted too far down the path of politically-correct fashions, and away from robust debate and discussion of challenging topics and how they intersect with real events.

It feels more like they want to persuade me to hold a set of opinions (which shifts rapidly), rather than informing me and letting me form my own. "Persuade" is even the wrong word; more like "pressure" or "coerce". If it's all ads, so be it; but when I pay, I expect that I am the customer and not the product. So I don't pay as of the end of my billing cycle.

Also, the NYT cheers on, and even participates in bullying. Scott Alexander being a recent example, but there are a lot more when it comes to politically-charged topics.

I should reiterate that this is not a right-left thing. I would have remained subscribed if the NYT had simply drifted left, and concerned itself mainly with arguments betweed various left-of-center factions. Lots of worthwhile things to discuss and debate there, and lots of events to tie it to.

> they want to persuade me to hold a set of opinions

Glad more people are realizing this. It's harder to spot/acknowledge for people on the left since the biased coverage feeds into their worldview...in my opinion it's artificially solidified their confidence on how "correct" they feel they are about political topics.

The next step in this realization is nothing to do with one-sided reporting, it's the massive scale of what selectively gets ignored or hidden.

As a regular European reader of the NYT, even the stronger left leaning columns from people such as Krugman/Kristof contain mostly opinions that are often considered "common sense" on our side of the pond.

Maybe your opinion has more to do with how weird and dispatched from reality American politics has become and less with how the NYT wants to brainwash you, or whatever you think they're doing?

Interested to know what you’re referring to. If it’s social or economic policy, I’d get your view. But if it’s culture wars / identity politics you’re referring to, I’d be surprised and expect the opposite in Europe.

My sense is many (most?) of the commenters here are off-put by the latter category.

Edit: the reference to Krugman as significantly “left” just registered, and I don’t think that’s what people are referring to —- or even that most of NYT’s new guard would consider Krugman to be a leftist

mostly opinions that are often considered "common sense" on our side of the pond.

The NYT’s views on race relations are so far from normal Europeans that Macron called them an existential threat to France.

The right don't have agenda-pushing affect their world view?


There was recently an attempted insurrection based on fake news, you know.

I must say though that Fox News has gotten downright rational (on all things) since then. Politically biased, sure, but they're actually news lately.

No, you misunderstand. The comment asserts that the NYTimes, specifically, is biased, and this bias is harder for people on the left to see, because it aligns with their sensibilities. Meanwhile, it's easy for people on the right to see it.

The comment doesn't say anything about people on the right being immune to it (and I would suspect there's a similar effect there in reverse, for eg Fox News).

I wasn't subscribed to any publications on the right (though in addition to the left-leaning publications I already mentioned, I was previously a WSJ subscriber once and an Economist subscriber a few times) so there wasn't anything to unsibscribe from.

I don't see misbehavior on the right as a justification for lazy, manipulative groupthink by the NYT, or outright bullying. Especially when they are clearly capable of good reporting.

the comment you replied to didn't comment about the right, but that bias is "harder to spot/acknowledge for people on the left"

The implied reverse therefore would be that it's easier for people on the right to see bias in the media. Not that the right dont have bias.

> The implied reverse therefore would be that it's easier for people on the right to see bias in the media.

Yeah, that's also what I read. And as evidence to the contrary I pointed out that some people had their world view changed so much that they tried to overthrow the government.

Which tells me that they didn't see the agenda they were being pushed.

Which contradicts the comment's point.

Note that in no way do I disagree that the left has a problem too.

Nah, those people just needed an excuse, they were already past the tipping point. They exist on both sides and one side got called out for attacking the capitol while the other is "mostly peaceful protests" because they are only destroying police and private property.

As in, both sides are equally bad for similar but different reasons but we only hear about a singular event that some whack jobs on the far right pulled off. Compare to my local media as an example which buried the story about the violence around a "citizen" road block until a seven year old was murdered as her family tried to go past. Even then it was buried with stories of police violence or right wing threats.

No, those of us who lean to the right know the nut jobs and there that line begins but there where that line is for my left leaning friends is beyond me to understand.

> but we only hear about a singular event that some whack jobs on the far right pulled off.


I would invite you to foxnews.com. As an example for the last week the front page has been plasted with Cuomo.

And CHAZ? A complete disaster that was absolutely not a secret.

You say that the line is clear on the right, but I think it's just that it's clear to you. The fake news that the election was stolen is actually mainstream, on the right. Trump had some ordinary people injest bleach, you don't think many more believed the other lies?

Do you think most people on the left supported the 2020 summer riots? Or defund the police? Even polling of black people had a huge majority against that nonsense. Some do. But then some on the right think Biden's about to be arrested when trump returns with the military in two weeks.

My point is that "especially on the left" has no connection in reality. "Also on the left" does.

Maybe I'm just a blind leftie, but I think one side got called out for attacking the capital because that's what they did. And the other side had thousands of protests, 90+% of which were completely peaceful. Granted, it's a small sample size of on the insurrection side, but 100% violent, versus < 10% violent.

> I must say though that Fox News has gotten downright rational (on all things) since then. Politically biased, sure, but they're actually news lately.

I've noticed that national news outlets in the US tend to be better when their preferred party is in power and worse when the opposition is in power. I suspect it's because in the latter case the news outlets slant all of their coverage towards negativity and discrediting the opposition.

I thought CNN was much more tolerable during the Obama administration, but watching them over the last few years has consistently left my frustrated. Meanwhile, the reverse has been true for Fox News. That said, I don't consume much from either outlet.

Maybe trump is an outlier, but (at least up until the election) I found Fox News to be completely bananas the last four years. So far they've been better under biden than trump.

But yes, they were bananas under obama too.

I don’t think any of the parent commenters were trying to say this phenomena didn’t happen on the right as well. Obviously we’ve seen a huge swell of right wing media trying to coerce the viewer into a certain set of opinions.

If anything that’s all the more reason to be very mindful of the same effect occurring in other media publications.

The quote "It's harder to spot/acknowledge for people on the left" sounds to me like patronizing "I'm simply right, whereas you are fooled by your media".

It shows a strong assumption that while that commenter is able to see the difference between bias and misinformation, the left cannot. And I don't buy it.

Neither people who watch Fox News nor people who watch NBC News buy it hook line and sinker.

So considering there was an attempted coup, and that many people still believe the election was rigged and that trump will come back in power (arresting biden) in the beginning of March doesn't exactly speak well for the "especially on the left".

Although my side (the left) often says things like “reality has a left leaning bias”

And it’s totally true when you’re countering the real charlatans of the right like Tom Cotton or Ted Cruz (to focus on American politics) But not a valid blanket statement whatsoever.

The pandemic made me realize how much newspapers have impact on people opinions. If they keep telling a vaccine in unsafe, a big part of their readers will believe the vaccine is unsafe. If they keep telling a vaccine is safe a big part of their readers will believe the vaccine is safe. And that no matter what the reality is.

I'm not american but reading NYT during the elections, I was astonished by how much NYT was blaming Trump for everything, and never say anything positive about him. Now I treat newspapers as propaganda.

I actually stopped reading any news at all except bloomberg a month ago and can't be happier.

100% true. And let's recall the Time article how the media in US conspired against Trump: https://www.worldtribune.com/time-magazine-all-but-confirms-...

It’s sad to see so many newly-created accounts that only argue about politics, from a particular point of view to counter what they see as HN’s incorrect groupthink. “There’s this forum, guys, where people don’t think the right way. Let’s brigade. Go there, create an account, and comment.”

I wonder who it is referring people to HN for this purpose.

I agree, it seems like there has been a constant raiding party around here for the last few weeks. I'm glad someone else has noticed. Thanks for speaking up!

Trump refusing to ever wear a mask had a huge impact on how seriously people took covid and what they did to protect society. Trump really is at fault.

You totally missed my point. I didnt say anything about Trump being right or wrong. I just said that for NYT anything that is related to Trump is bad. And I'm pretty sure this is not the case

When you have to argue that you're "pretty sure" not everything about a person is bad then negative press coverage is not surprising.

I am currently struggling to come up with something about Trump that's not mostly negative. Maybe his honesty in the Woodward calls? That's stretching it a bit, and only highlights how dishonest he's been in public. His response to Covid and natural disasters? So bad it better be incompetence rather than malice. His refusal to clearly distance himself from hate groups? His refusal to pay his own lawyers? Trump University and all the other scams?

No, I'm lost, I might be missing something. Please explain what Trump did well that isn't considered morally questionable.

For example, don't you think Trump acted well regarding getting vaccine quickly ?

Do you honestly think Trump had anything to do with vaccine development? I don't think he hindered it, but I don't think he accelerated it either.

> I was astonished by how much NYT was blaming Trump for everything

The guy was calling the whole thing a hoax, I don't know what credit he should get for anything.

That was already debunked, but thanks for being an example of people believing whatever narrative the media pushes.

I've seen, with my own eyes, plenty of his tweets and videos of him saying it was a hoax, so debunk it for me.

You think you've seen videos and tweets. But you really haven't. There was one incident that came close: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-coronavirus-rally-re...

The Snopes article was published 2 weeks before the impacts of coronavirus even started to be felt in this country, back when he was privately telling the truth about it to Woodward.

Trump's base overwhelmingly believes it's a hoax. So is "left" wing media lying to me that he says it's a hoax, or is right wing media lying to all his supporters that it's a hoax?

He seemed to have believed it wasn't a hoax when closing the border with China. He was being impeached at the time. He was criticized for being too drastic in this decision, even xenophobic. I'd like to know when he actually called the virus a hoax.

Your argument essentially boils down to "he only called it a hoax once--and c'mon doesn't he really deserve a huge benefit of the doubt as to which part he was calling a hoax?--and all the other times he downplayed it or called it no big deal he avoided using the word 'hoax'". If, as you contend, he hasn't been pushing that idea all along--in one set of words or another--why does his base believe it's a hoax?

If someone is alleged to have claimed that ghosts don't exist, but we see them hanging protective charms over the doors and sprinkling salt on the floor, the objective observer will seriously doubt the allegation.

I'm an outsider to US politics (in that I'm Australian), but I'm really interested to know what widely held "left" views you think are "incorrect"?

The topics I understand as being pushed by the left in the US just seem so centerist to me, based on the political landscape that I'm living in.

Single payer health care, minimum wage increases, increases in social support nets... So many topics I'd love to hear the argument against from any stand point that isn't pure capitalist greed.

Also not an American, but the US left has a lot of controversial views that are nothing to do with the things you've listed. Surely you've heard of some?

Maybe I shouldn't have given any examples. Clearly I'm not aware of the problematic topics. Can you share some?

What do you mean by incorrect? Because you're asking us to prove/argue that Left policies are incorrect. By correct/incorrect do you mean:




If we can agree on judging policies, platforms, ideologies and beliefs on a shared set of criteria, then we can move forward, otherwise we're just shouting at each-other.

You can tell me all day long that it's fair for me to get my stuff taken away without my consent by an entity because I got born within it's "borders"; but that won't make it fair for me within my moral framework, irrespective of how much I deplore the suffering of the poor and unfortunate and want to help them.

The comment I responded to said:

> in my opinion it's artificially solidified their confidence on how "correct" they feel they are about political topics.

I was wondering what topics these were.

The US has four states with population comparable to Australia.

It would be perfectly centrist for a couple states to enact the policies you mention, assuming they can work out the details and balance the books. When these policies turn into wild success stories, other states might follow.

It probably makes sense to start with some small-medium sized, well-governed blue states first, like when MA implemented Romneycare.

But the left position is to enact these polcies nationally across the US, which has >10x the number of people in your country. And there are a ton of details that nobody really even wants to talk about, and no plan to adapt when things don't work out. So, we are just supposed to trust Congress with a huge amount of extra money and a lot more power because the title of the bill sounds nice?

There are also a lot of policies that seem uniquely designed to punish the "right". I am pro-choice, but I recognize that a lot of people in the US are really, really not. But a lot of people on the left don't just want it legal, they want to use taxpayer money to pay for it. Think about how that makes tens of millions of evangelical Christians feel? There are enough pro-choice organziations that they can pool money from pro-choice people to subsidize abortions. The taxpayer money isn't needed. Why force it?

That last argument sure sounds like an argument from feels rather than facts and logic, I thought the right hated that kind of rhetoric.

The obvious answer is of course that health care is a public service and should not be reliant on charitable organizations, which would be absolutely ridiculous. (Yes reproductive care is health care, arguments made from personal feelings or believes are not a worthy retort against medical scientific consensus)

Couldn't this argument be made for the Border Patrol, or the war in Iraq? There are lots of things my tax dollars pay for that I find morally repugnant.

It's a matter of degree and alternatives. Borders and wars are clearly the domain of the federal government as described by the Constitution. If you don't like it, your only real option is to elect better people. Yeah, it sucks when our leaders invade Iraq for no reason, and then we elect one of few diseenting voices to be our next president and then he... invades Libya. So I realize my words are cold comfort, but there's no much else I can say.

But abortion funding is not the domain of the federal government and there is not much reason for it to be. There are plenty of private citizens who are pro choice and could fund abortion subsidies. It would probably be easier to do that than fight a political battle over it, which also costs money.

A government should govern the people that are actually here, not who you wish were here. Maybe in some places nobody minds abortion, but the US is not one of those places. So, we've got to respect those tens of millions of people at least enough to not spend their money on abortion.

This sounds like a technicality argument - wars are in the Constitution, so whatcanyoudo?

If we should respect the views of tens of millions of people in one area, we should do it in another. If we think that life is sacred and we shouldn’t spend federal money to end it, let’s be consistent.

there are significant gaps in funding for these services, especially in underprivileged areas.

Would you support increasing WIC and other benefits for these children? Because if not, this policy decision would increase the number of people who grow up hungry.

I would say the time the NYT literally covered up the crimes of Stalin, might have been one point where its ideological bias led it off track.


The minimum wage increase that Biden is pushing for is radical. He wants a 15$/hour minimum wage, which if I believe Wikipedia would be the highest minimum wage in the world right now.

Not saying that's a bad thing, but I think it would qualify as left-wing in most countries.

Agreed about social safety nets and most other policies. Sometimes it feels Americans don't realize how uniquely chaotic and inefficient their system is, compared to every other western country. The healthcare system in particular.

> would be the highest minimum wage in the world right now.

Australia's minimum wage for people over 21 is over $15 USD for full time work, and over $19 USD for part time (you receive a 25% casual loading rate increase for part time work). [1] That comes out to about 70% of their GDP per capita (working 38 hours per week, 50 weeks a year). The US going to $15 an hour would only be 43% of GDP per capita. If the US paid its minimum wage workers according to our actual economic output per person, our minimum wage would be $24 an hour, to match Australia. I wouldn’t really call $15 an hour radical.

[1] https://blog.aigroup.com.au/australia-had-the-highest-minimu...

Eh, it isn't that radical. These people making minimum wage are likely working part-time, so they don't get medical insurance. They often have to find two or more part-time jobs. Do they are working more hours than a full time job, but still don't have medical.

An increase in the minimum wage will help a little, but having affordable health care works help more.

More economists agree it will increase unemployment per IGM survey https://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/the-us-minimum-wage/

The minimum wage increase that Biden is pushing for is radical. He wants a 15$/hour minimum wage

By 2025, and only for Federal workers. The small print in that promise that only came out after the election.

I’m not rage-quitting yet but the decision to capitalize the word used to describe the skin color of one group of people, but not the words used to describe the skin colors of other people, is just so completely asinine and panderous that I have considered doing so.

Are they not in line with the APA styleguide?


I know it's a recent trend but I thought the capitalization was applied to all ethnicities.

Doesn't appear to exactly be in line with the APA guideline you posted, which suggests capitalizing "White". Though they recommend against using "Caucasian" and recommend using "White" instead.

To quote the link you posted:

>"Racial and ethnic groups are designated by proper nouns and are capitalized. Therefore, use “Black” and “White” instead of “black” and “white” (do not use colors to refer to other human groups; doing so is considered pejorative)."

However, the NYT:


>"The Times also looked at whether to capitalize white and brown in reference to race, but both will remain lowercase. Brown has generally been used to describe a wide range of cultures, Mr. Baquet and Mr. Corbett said in their memo to staff. As a result, its meaning can be unclear to readers; white doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does, and also has long been capitalized by hate groups."

Edit. Side note. Maybe I should write to the NYT and tell them I'm a White African and they're not representing my cultural and historical identity!

It's the AP style guide: https://apnews.com/article/9105661462

The New York Times' dismissive responses to leading American historians like Gordon Wood and James McPherson when they pointed out distortions and inaccuracies in the 1619 Project was an eye-opener to me.

The NY Times promoted an extremely suspect hypothesis about the American Revolution (that it was fought in order to preserve slavery - there's essentially no evidence for this hypothesis), and got push-back from some of the top historians of the US. The NY Times' response was essentially, "You're wrong, and we're not changing anything." Then the NY Times' own fact checker published an article in Politico pointing out that she had warned the NY Times not to claim the revolution was fought in order to preserve slavery, but that the NY Times had ignored her. That finally prompted the NY Times to issue a slight modification of their claim ("some" of the colonists fought to preserve slavery - which colonists is completely unclear, but at least the updated statement is so vague that it can't be disproven).

All around, it was clear that the NY Times had an agenda to push, and they didn't care if historians disagreed. That didn't stop the 1619 Project from winning a Pulitzer, though!

Journalists are pretty honest about what they do if you listen to them talk candidly about their profession. It's not really about reporting reality or facts it's more they see themselves are a class above the regular people who have a moral obligation to make sure we think and believe the right things we're supposed to for what they consider the greater good.

Not saying if that's the right thing to do or not but personally it's not something I'd ever pay for.

This generalization seems overly broad.

Perhaps. ...but among the journalists I know socially (this is a worthless anecdote), they agree that they have a responsibility to report a "socially responsible narrative".

What proof do you have of these accusations?

> But the NYT has drifted too far down the path of politically-correct fashions, and away from robust debate and discussion of challenging topics and how they intersect with real events.

> I should reiterate that this is not a right-left thing.

This very likely is a right-left thing:

* The NYT systematically avoided the term "torture" in everything except op-eds when describing the Bush admin's post-911 torture program[1]

It's difficult to think of a more dastardly use of political correctness than a newspaper employing a euphemism for torture that effectively softens the blow in their stories about a government torture program.

Obviously if you knew about this but still subscribed to NYT anyway while now unsubscribing for problems wrt left-thing political correctness, that's a "right-left thing." (And however bad we both agree their left-thing political correctness problem is, it can't possibly be worse than systematically dressing up torture.)

But even if you didn't know about it, it's still the same problem. At best your comment makes it seem like NYT gave in to its long-standing penchant for left-leaning fashions, and that ended up actually damaging its ability to do robust reporting. That interpretation makes a special case of the entire Keller period when the most important stories were scuttled in deference to the Bush administration. That period includes refusing repeatedly to run some of the most impactful stories-- like Jim Risen's on the Bush-Cheney domestic spying program-- because the government told them not to[2]. That period is in major "never forget" territory wrt to journalistic integrity.

Edits: clarifications

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/ju...

[2] https://theintercept.com/2018/01/03/my-life-as-a-new-york-ti...

You misunderstood my point. Bias exists and I have accepted that, and I won't unsubscribe from good reporting because of bias.

Giving into left-leaning fashions is bad not because of the "left-leaning" part; its bad because of the "fashions" part. It's lazy groupthink at best, and bullying people into conformity at worst.

Have you noticed how narrow and specific all of the rules for reporting have become? Do you honestly believe that leftism is defined by these narrow rules, many of which are changing rapidly?

No. Most left-leaning people don't believe this stuff (how could a normal person even change their beliefs from one day to the next?). They go along with it because either they are too scared of getting bullied themselves; or because it's mostly hurting the right, and they believe they can regain control of the discourse after the right is diminished.

But it's easy to destroy good discourse and hard to rebuild it. After the right gets marginalized, we won't go to open-minded chats over coffee among left-leaning folks. It will be these same horrible tactics over the most minor differences of opinion on the left. Proponents of socialized medicine will be doxxing proponents of Medicare for all. There will be no end to the ridiculousness.

Stepping outside this particular argument for a second, do you think it's possible to know the beliefs and motivations of "most people"? I don't. (Personally, I don't think very many people understand their own beliefs, much less that of others.)

I don't expect that I understand someone else's beliefs at a particular point in time. But I find it implausible that anyone changes their actual beliefs fast enough to keep up with these political fashions. So that's why I don't think most left-leaning people believe in these fashions.

Are you tracking the views of individuals, or is it possible that different people with different views are speaking at different times?

This confirms my impression: the conversation does not have to go sideways about advertisements. It is kind of a deflecting trick to provide customer support instead of cancelling the subscription. Once you step in their trap, then it is slightly more cumbersome to go through the cancellation process.

I guess people try to be polite and come up with a reason for cancelling their subscription, and this reason could be solved by customer support. It is not being polite to try to please Tony from customer support, he is just doing his job and does not care about polite reasons for cancelling, his job is that you do not cancel. It is important to know what you *really* want before contacting them (or any other company), in case they use this kind of trick to confuse you.

Highly recommend getting news through either AP news or Reuters. Both are non-profit journalism groups and I find that the headlines that pop up from those apps are straight up boring (and I mean this in the absolute best way possible).

I just pulled up two Reuters articles to look.

First article had 12 paragraphs, and a grand total of 12 sentences. 7 of those are quotes/paraphrases of what people said/claimed. Oh and the page had 20 ad images.

60% of the article is "s/he said X". The remaining 40% are low-fat versions of something one can find on Wikipedia.

Another one:

10 paragraphs, 11 sentences. 5 are quotes/paraphrases. 15 (fifteen) ad images!

That is not journalism, that's Twitter with extra steps, masquerading as news. At this point, if I didn't know any better, I'd call Reuters a glorified ad farm!

Ditto. I subscribed to the NYT when I appreciated their coverage, and unsubscribed...when I felt like it, around 2020.

I had heard horror stories about needing to call customer service, but they must have heard those complaints, because now their unsubscribe process is a simple form.

I'm sure they mean well, and hopefully their journalism department also has an ear to the ground. It'd be nice if they returned to centrist investigative journalism soon.

NYT is quite right of center on many issues. They're not as conservative as WSJ, but they're definitely not a leftist publication.

I’m 100% certain that the median NYT employee is to the left of the median American for any reasonable construction of the left-right spectrum.

Forcing the right-left sprectrum on the NYT obscures the reality that they're mostly a neolibieral organization, if anything. They've been Manufacturing Consent since the mid 20th century.

Looking at the USA from European eyes, there are no leftist publications, nor any left mainstream politicians there!

We can just as easily say that from an African perspective there are no right wing publications or politicians. After all in most of Africa homosexuality is still criminalized. In many places, witchcraft and apostasy still is.

And Africa has about triple the population of Europe. So what makes Europe the default point of comparison? (More reporters having done a semester abroad at Barcelona than Lagos is not a valid answer.) Heck why restrict ourselves to the present? How about by the standards of all of human history? Even Fox News would be left wing in 1750.

The simple answer is that it’s very dumb to arbitrarily compare against a different society, with a different history and different culture. American institutions should benchmark on American mores, not grasp at politics from entirely different continents.

Just wanted to say thanks for bringing this up, this is never something I had considered, how the default seems to always be Europe.

It simply means something different in the US vs Europe.

In the US, "left" tends to be centered around social and cultural issues, such as racism, sexism, immigrant rights, abortion rights, affirmative action, or increasingly things like white privilege - what is sometimes derisively called identity politics.

In Europe, "left" tends to be centered around the economic sense of the term, that is, socialism, communism, redistribution of wealth, social safety nets, etc.

By US standards, many European politicians are on the far right because of their social and cultural views. By European standards, most US politicians are on the right or even far right because of their economic views, whereas they're to a European perspective absolutely extreme on the social politics scale.

In general, while they're handy for bandying about in a very general sense, I don't think political axes between countries can be compared in a very meaningful way. There are all kinds of bizarre mismatches even in the same domains - for example, the VAT would be considered a very regressive tax favored only by the more extreme libertarian-conservative types in the US, but it's hardly seen that way in Europe.

It simply means something different in the US vs Europe.

It means something different to you. The US is a big country, and your understanding of the left is pretty shallow and certainly doesn't speak for the whole country.

That you say the left is centered on ID politics is evidence that you're out of touch with leftist politics. I would venture to say because there's not a loud leftist voice in the mainstream media.

> It means something different to you. The US is a big country, and your understanding of the left is pretty shallow and certainly doesn't speak for the whole country.

Although I am leery of placing myself on a political axis for the same reason, I think most people would consider me a leftist. Certainly they would think so based on my voting record, with a couple of exceptions.

Firstly, it may be - and I think is probably - the case that the average self-described liberal or independent in the US does not prioritize most culture war issues, or identity politics issues. They might instead be more concerned about conventionally leftist economic policies, like raising the minimum wage or improving safety nets.

But that's not, by-and-large, what political campaigns, politicians, or the news media focuses on. Cultural issues and (increasingly) identity politics surrounding specific issues take up an immense amount of bandwidth in the US to a degree they do not in Europe - or if an analogous issue does, the battle lines are drawn and the conversation is framed in a totally different way. Even issues that are the 'same' are often downstream of US politics.

I don't think this is an argument that there's no loud leftist voice in the mainstream media. That is maybe true, in the conventional sense. But it's not because the media is conservative or reactionary in some sense - there's a similar problem on the right; if anything, this was strongly illustrated by Trump's success - Trump brought to the forefront issues like immigration restriction that had wide support among the voting base but very weak to no support in the conservative political and media establishment. It's because the "leftists" who are actually in power, and control large 'leftist' institutions, care more about identity politics and culture war issues than they do about conventional leftist economic policies. US politics on both sides is charged along different lines than in other countries.

There's no doubt similar phenomena in Europe - it's not as though politics as represented by politicians and in the news accurately reflects the desires of the people there, either. Nor is Europe a unified block either, so we're being a little sloppy. But this is still a substantial difference.

At any rate, there's still other issues I mentioned like VAT - VAT would never fly in the US even if the "left" took complete power because liberals would consider it horrifically regressive!

Someone in China could say the same thing about Europe. There’s hardly any communist mainstream politicians and publications there!

One of them is a authoritarian regime where the press is controlled by the state and the others are a collection of countries with some of the highest democracy ratings in the world, by most scales, including for freedom of the press.

That's my point. The farther left you go the more things the state has control over.

It's all relative. From a communist perspective, most of Europe is a laissez faire free market. Private control of the press!? Hah!

From Europe's mildly-socialist perspective, America is a laissez faire free market. Private control of healthcare and education!? Hah!

I'm not making value judgements. Just pointing out its a spectrum.

> That's my point. The farther left you go the more things the state has control over.

That’s because you’re using the term incorrectly: right-wing authoritarian states were just as perilous for those who disagreed – imagine being a left-wing business owner under Hitler or Pinochet! You’d much prefer living in “left-wing” Sweden unless you were very right-wing.

The mistake is trying to use a single term to compare multidimensional properties. The degree to which power is centralized in the state is independent from economic and social policies, and you can find examples of many combinations depending on which characteristics you’re interested in (for example, the Soviet Union was good for the perspective of opening career paths for women and terrible for gay rights while Nazi Germany was bad at both, and no single term comparison is going to cover that).

> That's my point. The farther left you go the more things the state has control over.

Is this true, though? With full socialism isn't control supposed to be pooled by citizens? If anything, it's more akin to libertarianism, just that instead of citizens self-organizing in groups to manage bits and pieces they self-organize in groups managing everything.

However people in the USA talk about the left as a bloc and people in Europe don't talk about communist media or politicians (although there are a small number).

You would have a better analogy if you used "socialism" rather than "communism".

They at least subscribe to the leftist version of identity politics, which has admittedly become very mainstream, but is still the number one rallying point of the left today.

Many people would consider the "leftist version of identity politics" to be an oxymoron.

Would you say that only the right is engaging in "identity politcs"?

As others have mentioned in this thread, "right" and "left" are all relative. From my point of view, a neoliberal like Biden is right-of-center by any reasonable definition of "right" and "left", but obviously that varies person-to-person. My point is that most of the people on the far left tend to dislike identity politics since it's such an effective distraction from real economic issues.

No, the problem is that left-vs-right doesn't really have a standard, global definition, so in an average internet discussion, you can have several people using their own definitions and not understanding that the person they're talking to is trying to say something completely different. To some, maybe mostly in Europe, its socialism vs capitalism. Whereas in others, maybe mostly in the USA, its SJWism vs Conservatism, or even Democrat vs Republican. The modern NYT (>2015) is definitely not pushing socialism, but they are pretty much anti-Republican, anti-white, pro-LGBT, pro-Antifa/BLM, etc to such an extent that's pretty far removed from the common American, or even the common New Yorker, and more like its coming from some Twitter echo chamber.

I said twice that it's not about left-right. Please don't try to make my comment about that.

The problem is they are treating politics like fashion, where it's super specific and constantly changing. And they are bullying (or cheering it on, at least) anyone who doesn't conform.

Whether these specific fashions they promote are "left" or "right" or "center" was immaterial to my decision to cancel.

Oh God I'm glad it's not just me that was feeling this. It's been pointedly obvious that there are narratives they want to push and there are clear newsworthy items that they do not cover for fear of making some groups look bad that would not look "woke". I've been forced to balance my news with right-leaning publications (NYPost... ew) just because they'll at least mention some events.

If you haven't read Bari Weiss's resignation letter from the NYT, I would recommend it: https://www.bariweiss.com/resignation-letter

> But I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

>It feels more like they want to persuade me to hold a set of opinions (which shifts rapidly), rather than informing me and letting me form my own. "Persuade" is even the wrong word; more like "pressure" or "coerce".

It's a little amusing to see liberals trying to describe this for the first time. Harper's is unequivocally further left than NYT. It's also less grating.

To me, that's because the "left-ish" bias of NYT takes the form of telling the reader to be afraid of certain people or groups of people, whether it's Tom Cotton who wants to "send in the troops" or some little-known blogger. Which stands in direct contradiction to the ideals of what most people think of as leftism.

Bias is tolerable and probably inevitable; a politics of fearmongering is not.

Which other paid news publications do you prefer over the NYT?

I would vote The Financial Times or The Economist.

+1 to FT. I have been reading FT for a while now and have completely stopped reading NYT or other publications. They seem to have solid reporting and are pretty unbiased IMO.

Consider this another vote for the Financial Times and the Economist. I am subscribed to both, and Foreign Affairs.

You have to be aware of their biases, though.

If I recall correctly both predict the collapse of France, like clockwork, every few years (especially because French policies are slightly more socialist and both publications are super business).

And of course, both look down on non-Anglosphere countries, in general :-)

> both look down on non-Anglosphere countries

I don't know where you get that from. Any examples?

> You have to be aware of their biases, though.

A point of view is not a bias. The Economist was founded as a pro-market liberal (classically liberal) publication. A Marxist would consider that a bias I guess?

The Spectator is usually classified as centre-right. Amongst my peers ("creative" millennials in London) that makes it a bit of a non-starter, unfortunately.

I think it's a mostly respectable magazine with a high degree of journalistic integrity (e.g. the recent High Court case). They have some fantastic contributors. Like any publication there are some that are a bit "out there" for my tastes, Delingpole comes to mind, but they pale in comparison to some of the opinion pieces the Guardian publishes. But because of its mild association with the word "right", I know many of my peers would be unpalatable.

How about The New Statesman? Would that be centre-left?

Certainly left-leaning. I've heard Stephen Bush (their political correspondent) is quite reliable on Labour issues, but I don't read it much these days. It went right down in my estimation in terms of journalistic integrity after the Roger Scruton debacle.

The idea that someone would suggest the Spectator—more reactionary troll factory than magazine at this point—as a response to someone who feels the NYT is pushing too much of an agenda is absolutely hilarious.

To be clear, I generally accept bias. It's just the way things are.

My complaint about the NYT and many other news sources is absurd combination of a hyper-specific and rapidly-changing set of beliefs, along with brutal enforcement of those beliefs.

My challenge to you: write down your beliefs on a controverial topic (on paper). Wait 6 months and pick up the NYT. My prediction: they will be in the process of canceling someone for those same beliefs, and you will shred the piece of paper out of fear.

OK, maybe that's an exaggeration. But I wouldn't be shocked if it was too close for comfort.

Have you read it recently? There certainly are trollish (but not insane) rightwingers like Rod Liddle and Toby Young, and Taki must be published solely to wind up left-wingers. But the main editorial slant is basically Cameron-conservative/New Labour types like Nick Cohen, Katy Balls, Isabel Hardman, Matthew Paris etc.

It's definitely right-of-center and doesn't mind cocking a snook at left-wing holy cows, but it's not a "reactionary troll factory".

Yes, I've read it.

Magazines publishing centre-right views are fine. But if what you are seeking is a news publication that doesn't push a particular agenda, then The Spectator is pretty much as far away from it as you can get outside of Pravda.

You're right, of course, that it publishes some mild centre-right commentators with uncontroversial conservative views. That doesn't really compensate, in my view, for the provision of space to writers like Liddle and Young. These particular people are reactionary trolls; their writing contains little other than disinformation deliberately intended to stoke culture-war nonsense, and they're too smart to believe what they write. This stuff does little more than make society worse for everyone.

But I'd say regardless of your views on individual commentators or the overall quality of the publication – if someone wants to avoid the NYT because it is campaigning too much, then directing them to The Spectator is laughable.

The Spectator routinely publishes misinfo.

Would you like to provide an example? Or, better, several examples to establish a pattern that couldn't also be found in, for example, The Guardian or NYT?

Any of their coverage of trans issues.

I haven't said the Guardian or NYT is better.

You’re not a fan of Debbie Hayton then? Although I can’t imagine what her motivations would be for spreading misinformation about trans issues. Perhaps she and other Spectator writers have views trans activists disagree with, but that’s not the same as misinformation.

Debbie Hayton spreads misinfo. She does so because she gets validation form other transphobes.

It's not "disagreement" -- they regularly publish easily checkable objectively false information.

That's simply false.

I really like the Economist their espresso format is a pleasant read in the morning.

Right now I am subscribed to zero paid news outlets. Sad.

Watching this thread for suggestions. I'm thinking international, as foreign outlets will be less susceptible to American fashions.

Scott Alexander is a public figure. Get over it.

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