Tucked inside this morning’s Wall Street Journal was an offer for a very deep discount on a subscription to The Economist. Unfortunately, The Economist made me an offer I couldn’t understand. Here’s the flyer (with my annotations):
The information in the top right corner seems to say my discounted subscription rate is $15 for 12 weeks (about $5 per month). That’s quite a deal compared to the regular price of $334.97. (Aside: does The Economist really charge over $1,000 for a one-year subscription? Sounds high to me.)
However, the fine print in the lower right panel says $15 per month. That’s about $45 for 12 weeks, a far cry from $15.
Here are my guesses. First, the initial $15 buys 12 weeks. After that the price is $15 per month. The $334.97 for 12 weeks is the total of all the items in the list (including $108 for “The Economist in Audio,” are they kidding?). And do they really charge $83.88 for 12-week access to their content via mobile apps? Seems to me it would be cheaper just to use the mobile browser and access economist.com for “only” $23.29.
But what’s really amazing is that this “deal” isn’t a deal. Here are the regular subscription rates:
Let’s see. $1.25 per week for 12 weeks is exactly $15! In other words you can get the same rate through The Economist website as their “special offer.” But the website is even better because you can get an annual subscription for $160, about $3.08 per week or $12.31 for four weeks. And if you’re a student, that one-year subscription is a mere $96. Register for a class at a local cheap community college and save $64!
The best I can say about this is that the pricing is confusing and appears irrational. If The Economist really wants my business, they’ll have to make me an offer I can understand.