Washington Post Charges An 'Activation' Fee To Let You Pay Them To Get Around Their Paywall

from the how-nice dept

We’re still pretty skeptical about paywalls for most newspapers, because they really tend to limit the audience for your offering, and limit people sharing that content as well (which is pretty important for growing your audience these days). But, some newspapers have really embraced them, including the Washington Post, which lately has ramped up its paywall efforts. And, apparently with that, come sneaky fees. First noticed by an editor at the WSJ (another paywall site, though one that has been designed to be much more porous), Tim Hanrahan, it appears that the Washington Post now has an “activation fee” to subscribe to get around the paywall:

Of course, we’ve been reporting on how telcos and broadband providers have made an entire (large!) business out of sneaking in bogus extra fees for well over a decade. As we noted back then, many of these tack-on fees are really so that the service provider can advertise much lower fees than they’re actually charging. It certainly feels like misleading advertising, though the FTC doesn’t seem that interested in getting involved.

Of course, we also wondered, all the way back in 2004, when these kinds of bogus fees would start spreading to other businesses.

“Perhaps other companies should get into this game as well. Want a pizza pie? It’s just $3, but there’s a $3.50 “crust fee,” a $9.38 “oven fee,” a $4.50 “service fee,” and a $2.18 “cleanup fee.” Plus tax.”

Not too many other businesses have gone down that road… but I guess the Washington Post has decided to leap in head first.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: washington post

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Washington Post Charges An 'Activation' Fee To Let You Pay Them To Get Around Their Paywall”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Doug says:

Re: Just wait

Fixing this imbalance of power would help with so many anti-consumer practices that we see every day.

Corporations can come up with any old “policy” they want and force us to do things their way because they have the leverage. We have few places (sometimes only one) where we can do business. If we choose to stop doing business with one because we don’t like their policies (or prices or whatever), then we suffer a real loss. But if a business loses just one customer out of millions like this, they barely notice.

The government should be the entity that balances this playing field, since they could represent consumers en masse, but it doesn’t work out that way.

The politician who figures out how to do this will change the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m sorry, hold on.

$10.75 a WEEK for the news after 3 months?!

Screw the activation fee, what the HELL is that about?!

I pay less than that for my smartphone plan.

In fact, lets list a few things I’d rather do with that money each month than subscribe to a pretentious news site.
-I could go to 2 all you an eat buffet lunches for 3 hours a piece.
-I could subscribe to 3 subscription based MMO’s.
-I could buy 2 bags of flavored pipe tobacco.
-I could get subscriptions to Humble Bundle Monthly, Crunchyroll AND Netflix

Who the hell is wasting over $40 bucks a month on news that, lets face it, is or will soon be freely accessible elsewhere? Who?!

UriGagarin (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Its the classic, “we have your CC details, we will keep charging till you cancel” deal that nearly all these free deals do. And usually the cancellation process is the most arcane ‘goat sacrificing state at the sun while tapping the head rubbing the tummy nonsense in archaic elbonian’ nonsense.

Sign up for free – pay for it forever.

TRX (profile) says:

I don’t know if it’s just the local store of chainwide, but the local Little Caesar’s Pizza had their prices prominently displayed on the front window. I went in, ordered a pizza, and they asked for several dollars more than I expected. I asked to see the ticket, which was for $2 more than the posted price. Their excuse: that was the “drive through” price, it cost $2 more if you went inside.

I handed back the receipt and told them to keep their pizza. Since I hadn’t paid yet, I just walked out. And I’ve never been back. (and no, the sign didn’t mention anything about “drive through.”)

brad says:

What I find amusing is that their paywall doesn’t actually work, and you can just copy/paste the text of the article into a text file and read it there. So silly, they’re still basically relying on the reader to want to buy a sub out of generosity anyway, but adding a sprinkling of annoyance to the mix, to make sure you don’t actually want to pay for it…

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...