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.

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  • identicon
    missingxtension, 31 Aug 2016 @ 11:54am

    bogus fees on pizza

    Dominos Pizza now charges a Delivery fee, it is not intended to pay the driver. They pay the drivers a flat per delivery of maybe $.30

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:16pm

      Re: bogus fees on pizza

      Governor Rod Blagojevich could have avoided being impeached and jailed for soliciting bribes for political appointments. It was the extra service fees that did him in.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 11:58am

    Maybe they'll use the Next Big Lie and charge people a fee for congestion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:03pm

    legal thievery

    There should be laws against businesses sneaking in *mandatory* "fees" into a customer's bill after they have already quoted someone a price. It's nothing less than thievery to advertize one price and then charge another.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:53pm

      Re: legal thievery

      There was an agency created to deal with this... let me remember... o ya... the FTC, the Fucking Trade Commission.


      Yes, Regulation is working so fucking well! There is so much false advertising going on the FTC will never get around to them all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:15pm

    I have quit utilizing a local pizza joint after they charged five bucks more in fees than what was on the coupon. Ticket Bastard gets away with it because they are a monopoly. Corollary: charge fees only if you don't have competition for the service you're providing. (...Probably not the case for the WaPo.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:20pm

    Papa Johns $2 delivery fee which doesn' go to the driver :-(

    Papa Johns - $2.00 Delivery fee which they clearly state doesn't go to the driver :-(

    http://www.ppc.bz/random/papa-johns-2-delivery-fee

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:28pm

    Just wait

    Until I start charging a $5.00 activation fee for checks I have to write.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Doug (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:23pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:35pm

    try bying an airline ticket

    Quite literally, the fuel surcharge was more than the "cost" of the tickets

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PRMan (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 4:58pm

      Re: try bying an airline ticket

      I got some tickets on SkyBus for $10 each back in the day. Our total cost for 4 tickets was $40...plus $80 in taxes and airport fees.

      How about that 200% in extra charges?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:36pm

    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?!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:51pm

      Re:

      masters of the universe who write it off as a bidness expense that us low lifes will have to make up for it with our taxes...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      UriGagarin, 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:18pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 11:14am

      Re:

      I thought the exact same thing. $44 per month is absolutely insane. Did they do any research at all or did they just ask the accountants to set the price?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 12:48pm

    Of course they do

    That's how much my retired parents still pay to have the newspaper printed out and hand-delivered to their home 7 days a week, why would we tech-minded people not be eager to pay the same price for the same news minus the paper printing and delivery?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:09pm

    But, but, it costs them real money to have Steve in Bangalore press a button activating your subscription.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Matt (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:39pm

    I am skeptical of the success of their paywall but the activation fee does make some sense. If their goal is to avoid people subscribing only when needed, the $5 fee may be enough to convince people to stay subscribed month to month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:58pm

    This is also known as a "screwage fee".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TRX (profile), 31 Aug 2016 @ 2:38pm

    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.")

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SpaceLifeForm, 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:29pm

    Haiku

    To pay a lame fee
    To pay another lame fee
    Insane just insane

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    brad, 31 Aug 2016 @ 3:32pm

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Max Lucado, 31 Aug 2016 @ 5:22pm

    It's an upgrade

    We can't upgrade our service or quality. But we can UPgrade our price. New and Improved!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bshock, 31 Aug 2016 @ 9:53pm

    Time for another cliche

    I believe this is what they call adding insult to injury.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 1 Sep 2016 @ 1:56am

    Activation fees aren't really something new. It's a way to assure a minimum charge legally separated from the actual subscription fee. You might run into it in other places as an account setup fee, a paperwork handling fee, or similar.

    Nothing really special here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 6:15pm

      Re:

      Except for another reason to not bother with the paywall at all, of course. At which you'll just bitch about not having news to pay for as usual.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Turk, 1 Sep 2016 @ 7:14am

    WaPo has a huge whole

    They limit access, but if you browse via incognito mode, it totally defeats that paywall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2016 @ 10:13am

    Lets tax the tax

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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