Save Money On Magazine Subscriptions By Complaining About N00bs

Are you annoyed at the great introductory prices new subscribers to a magazine get, while old-timers’ subscription prices climb higher? Yeah, it’s the nature of subscriptions, but Gabe found a simple way around it: he called up the magazine and complained about the discrepancy.

I’ve subscribed to Car and Driver for probably a good 6 years now.

So, at the advice of my umpteenth snail-mail renewal notice, I went online to renew. But I accidentally went to the NEW subscriptions page when I was searching for the renewal page. Attached you will find a combined screen shot of my renewal price (on the left) and the price for new subscribers (on the right).

Apparently you get a WAY better deal as a noob than a guy that’s been around a couple of years.

However: before I signed up online, I called the subscription number to ask them about this.

The woman on the line was very helpful and after taking my info was immediately willing to give me the $19.95/2 year price.


Simple enough, but most subscribers wouldn’t think to even make that quick call that saves them $6. This won’t work with all magazines, and perhaps not with all customer service reps, but it’s worth a try if you enjoy dead-tree magazines.


Edit Your Comment

  1. obits3 says:

    What about “It is 5 times harder to get a new customer than to keep and old one happy” do so many companies not get? You should get loyalty discounts.

    • Mike Zeidler says:

      I think it’s the part where they’re trying harder to get new customers than worrying about keeping the old customers?

    • skylar.sutton says:


      I actually dropped my Car & Driver subscription this year because of this nonsense. I’m a new Road & Track subscriber and I like it MUCH better than C&D.

      A special thanks to C&D for introducing me to R&T!

    • Bativac says:

      Yeah, the company I work for is falling over itself trying to get new customers, ignoring the old ones who are getting pissed and dropping the company for somebody cheaper.

  2. Alexk says:

    I never renew subscriptions anymore. Being a book reviewer with too much free material to read in the first place helps. But on the few magazines I do get, if I let the subscription lapse, I can always find a better “introductory” rate than they’re offering me to resubscribe.

    One magazine, Esquire, just lost me forever by renewing my subscription without my consent. They told me what a nice thing they were doing for me, and that the bill would follow shortly. I replied with a blistering email and a cancellation.

  3. hills says:

    We get C&D, so I’ll check this out next time we’re up for renewal – thanks for the tip. As far as nearly all my other magazines? – They’re with frequent flier miles that were near expiration, so no cash out of my pocket. I enjoy my “dead-tree magazines” – thank you very much!

  4. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    I think it kind of depends on how long that “quick call” is, and what you value your time at. At my usual rate, the call would need to be shorter than 7.22 minutes in order for it to be worth it.

    • ryder02191 says:

      I could go ahead and calculate how much you make, like I know you were hoping everyone would, but believe me when I say that nobody cares as much as you think they do.

      • coren says:

        In that case, I’ll be happy to tell you it’s something in the vicinity of 50 bucks an hour. Glad I could help!

    • ames says:

      I don’t look at my life in chunks of money-time. I never understood that. No one pays me to live my life, they pay me to work. But if I’m home on the weekend, I don’t break my day up into hourly rates. What would I charge myself to enjoy a television show? Or to play with my knitting? or talk on the phone with friends? Or to take care of personal business like the OP – it’s not like I am giving up income to do that.

      I don’t get it.

      • jabberwockgee says:

        Are you saying there is no point at which you would stop going after a $6 discrepancy?

        You would spend 10 hours to get $6 back? I doubt it.

        • ames says:

          No, that wasn’t what I was saying at all. My comment actually had nothing to do with the $6 in the article, and was focused purely about the concept that free time has an hourly pay rate.

      • coren says:

        The thing is, I don’t (and imagine you don’t either) enjoy talking to telemarketers or CSRs. It’s like, well, working. So if I’m doing something I don’t enjoy, and I’m not being paid for it, I want to get something else out of it instead. Six bucks in savings is one thing I could get, but at some point not dealing with the issue becomes more valuable to me than working it out.

        • samonela says:

          Maybe…but principle is priceless…at least to me it is…

          I will stay on the phone with a rep just to prove to myself and to them that they can’t just go around pushing consumers around. At least not this one.

          And then I’d bring the story and the experience here to share with all…not everyone will agree with the sentiment, but the fact that some DO makes it worth it to me…knowing that there are like-minded individuals!

          • coren says:

            Full disclosure: once I’ve sunk my teeth into something I find it hard to let go – I’ve fought Amazon and Blockbuster for months over 40-50 dollars, Visa gift cards for hours over a few fees, livenation for weeks over an unclear policy. I never really live up to that “give up when it’s not worth it anymore” stuff that I just said, but it at least makes *sense* to me.

  5. onesickvdub says:

    I make my own magazine subscriptions at home.

  6. dolemite says:

    I usually just let my subscription lapse, then they get desperate and offer me the noob price.

    • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

      That happened to me with Entertainment Weekly. I subscribed for years and I paid way too much for it, I’m sure. I let it lapse last year, then after a few months they offered a year subscription for $10. We’ll see if it happens again when I let it lapse this time.

      • pk says:

        I subscribe to EW, I get it free from I don’t drink a lot of coke, but I do drink enough to renew my subscription every 6 months. You can also find coke caps lying around everywhere, at work, in people’s recycling bins, on the ground etc…

        • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

          Thanks for the tip!

        • Brie says:

          Aha! You just solved a mystery for me! I read EW in the break room. The issues go to my co-worker’s home address, but she doesn’t read the issues before bringing them to work. I know she drinks mountains of Coke, so I’ll have to ask her if she uses mycokerewards to get EW.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It’s hard to tell what a “regular” rate is anymore. The Bon Appetit website is running an introductory offer of $12 a year, which is a little less than what I paid to renew. When I was set to renew, I shopped for the introductory rate and it was definitely more than $12 a year. Conde Nast must be getting a little more desperate.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      That’s what I used to do, but I think they’re onto me now.

  7. yessongs says:

    What’s a magazine?

  8. Andyb2260 says:

    Did anyone else noticed the automatic renewal statement on the new subscriber form? Ummm no thank you. I’m kind of wondering if they can use this if they ever find themselves strapped for cash. Automatically renew 10,000 subscriptions at $20 a pop $200,000 windfall. Bill to your credit card for your convenience.

  9. proscriptus says:

    Wow, I haven’t paid more than $5 a year for Car & Driver in probably three years. Didn’t they have a two years for $7 deal last year? Gotta keep that rate base up.

    • Silverhawk says:

      Yeah, I was going to say, I renew for years at a time, and the last 2 times I renewed, the rate was ridiculously cheap. I’ve been a continuous subscriber for almost 20 years now and I think the most I’ve ever paid at one time was $10/year.

  10. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I’ve found that most magazines get more desperate as time goes by before the subscription expires. I’ve been sitting on an Entertainment Weekly offer of $10 for a year. I’m sure it won’t go any lower, but I’m willing to wait and see.

  11. webweazel says:

    *sigh* I go through this song and dance all the time. About 6 months(!) before my subscription ends, the renewal letters start. Maybe 10 per month, per magazine. A mag that I started in the beginning for $10/yr, is now offered for $20. Later, it goes to $15 with the $20 offers still sprinkled in. Then the ones with the auto-renewal in the fine print. I get so aggravated. (I always pay by check. I will NEVER give them a credit card number, for obvious reasons.)
    What I’m planning on doing, is finding a site where I can get the noob rate, and sign up myself for one year, then when the scrip is about to run out, I’ll sign up the spouse for a year. Keep alternating every year and ignore the stupid renewal notices. Wonder if this would work?

    • Kate says:

      Crap, I get renewal cards before I’ve paid my first bill sometimes. I’ve had several year subscriptions. A month after I subscribed, I was getting desperate ‘RENEW NOW’ spam mail.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You’re lucky. About a month after I renewed, I started getting renewal letters.

  12. RobofNYC says:

    i used to subscribe to 10-20 magazines. Now it’s closer to 2. And those two were down to $8 per year (formerly $25+) – ultimately all mags will be online exclusively.

  13. SylarCx says:

    I wonder if calling in gives you the automatic renewal as well?? I would hope not!

    Also lol’d at the fact that both 2 year offers say “Best Deal!”

    • DrLumen says:

      While not trying to get too far off topic…

      Cable, internet, phone, apartment rent, etc, etc, etc. They all try to pull this crap! I always hit them up for the n00b prices at renewal. If they won’t do it or at least negotiate I usually go elsewhere.

      The apartment specials really don’t make sense as they are out the costs for make ready, paint, cleaning, sometimes new carpet only to rent to some unknown that may not pay rent or only stay six months. But, the tenants that have been there for a while get bent over. It doesn’t make sense. They don’t have to spend anything for a renewal but yet still try to go up on rent. It’s like they had rather spend money to make less in rent to an unknown than do a renewal for the special rent. Go figure…

  14. Kibit says:

    I order my subscriptions from Amazon. They always have sales and special offers. I’ve paid an average of $5 for most of my subscriptions including ESPN, Real Simple and Vegetarian Times. I also decided that those three magazines really aren’t worth the $5 and have decided to not get them anymore.

  15. jim says:

    you guys are not understanding how this works. the 19.95 is a promotional price. the company is probably losing money on the deal now with the assumption they will make money later.

    there is no real margin in magazine/newspaper subscriptions any more. They are all in the process of getting decimated by online, so thanks for helping bring that day a little closer.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Then they need to close up shop. They should be able to give the mag away free and still make money by their print ad sales. The dirty secret is that electronic ads pay nothing compared to print ads. This is partly why eZines cost more than print: advertisers are used to paying huge amounts of money for print ads, while paying much less for online ads. Why do you think print media usually gives away the online access when you subscribe to the print edition?

      • jim says:

        print ads are way down. used to be that PC magazine had the most ads of any magazine some 10 years ago. those days are long gone.

  16. budgetingincome says:

    Sounds good, except for 2 things:

    1. When end of subscription comes, they automatically renew at a much higher rate – without any notice. You just see it on your credit card.
    2. They put you through hell cancelling the subscription. First, you have to know the number of the magazine you subscribe to. Second, you contact the magazine, and they say, they can only be cancelled with the seller who offered the subscription. You have to ask them who this magazine seller is, and its contact number.
    3. When you contact the subscription seller, it is not easy wading through the voice prompts to cancel your subscription.

    when you’re the timid kind or those who think it’s a lot of work canceling subscription on a much higher cost, forget subscribing.

    • SylarCx says:

      It says right in the screen shot that you get a 60 day notice when your CC is going to be charged. And like I asked earlier, I wonder if the OP was still signed up for auto renewal by calling instead of signing up online?

      Also, as far as unsubscribing, the screen shot has a direct 800 number AND an email address to contact. I would imagine the 60 notice would also have the same.

      Lastly, the OP (and anyone on here for that matter) don’t seem like the “timid” type if they are willing to call a company and inquire about price discrepancies.

  17. SunsetKid says:

    I have dealt with and have been very happy with the, Car & Driver is $10.97 a year and you can renew.

  18. Tedsallis says:

    I just check Tanga every day and see what’s the deal de jour. Most subscriptions are 2-5 bucks a year and I can order multiple years on most mags. I get so many magazines I can’t even read them all.

  19. ZacharyTF says:

    I get about 25 magazines a month (some weekly, most monthly) and I don’t pay for any of them except for Sports Illustrated ($40 for 1 1/2 years plus a free t-shirt and jacket), ESPN the Magazine ($12 for 4 years) and Electronic Gaming Monthly.($24.95 a year for monthly paper magazine and weekly digital issue).

    The free ones I get:

    Expiration dates in parentheses if I can find them

    Auto Week
    Baseball Digest (May/June 2011)
    Car and Driver
    Dime (April/May 2011)
    Discover (December 2011)
    Golf Week
    La Cucina
    Macworld (May 2011)
    Mad (April 2012)
    Maxim (Mach 2017)
    Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords (May 2011)
    Old House Journal (April/May 2011)
    PC World (March 2011)
    Popular Mechanics (February 2011)
    Ready Made (May 2011)
    Road and Track
    Saveur (April 2011)
    SLAM (April 2011)
    Sound and Vision (January 2012)
    Technology Review (November 2011)

  20. wellfleet says:

    I did this with Sports Illustrated. My renewal offer was something like $90 a year and I saw a $39.99 offer online and called them up to ask what’s up with that. It took 5 minutes of me being nice and the CSR being completely reasonable and I got that cheaper rate. To the dude who was all like “at my hourly rate bla bla bla”: make the call from the toilet. Like that, instead of wasting money just sitting there, having a BM, you can save money.