Recently the April issue of Autocar (NZ) appeared in my mailbox. I was initially perplexed as I don’t subscribe to it but then noticed a (printed) sticker with the words “incorporating Driver”. I have subscribed to Driver since issue one so that was the connection.
A few weeks earlier I had already received the April issue of Driver and there was no mention of any planned changes. I’m not aware of the story behind this, sure there is one, but as a subscriber I’m not impressed with the way Tangible Media (Driver’s former publisher) have handled it.
To be fair to Autocar, and Fairfax who publish it, there was a letter enclosed from Autocar’s Editor explaining they’d acquired Driver & it’s subscriber base. It left a few questions unanswered so I emailed him:
Thanks for your letter enclosed with the April copy of NZ Autocar. I am, well I guess I now was, a subscriber to DRIVER and have been from issue one. Thus I was a little surprised to see the faux “Now Incorporating Driver” sticker on the Autocar cover. It was with curiosity that I dived into the magazine to see what “incorporating” meant. From the April issue it appears nothing other than that faux sticker on the cover. No sign of any ex-Driver editorial input, features or anything.
Now here is my situation. I chose to subscribe to DRIVER because I liked the Editorial stance, writers and views. The team changed over the years but the core offering didn’t. Now I find it’s apparently, from the April issue at least, been consumed by another title with no evidence it existed other than a meek cover statement and the roll-over of my subscription. This isn’t a criticism of Autocar, or its Editorial team, but it simply isn’t what I subscribed for.
I read other international Car Magazines and get news off the web long before print delivery (I follow 30+ Auto related web feeds). That wasn’t why I got DRIVER. I subscribed, and renewed because of the editorial content so the question I have is:
Will the former Driver editorial team (i.e. Allan, Davie Damen and Jem) be regularly contributing to Autocar in future?
If not I will happily return the supplied April Autocar and request refund of my outstanding DRIVER subscription from April to expiry (which my records show to be Nov 2010).
I got a prompt reply confirming the Driver editorial team would not be regularly contributing and offering an extension to my subscription as some sort of compensation/mitigation. I appreciated that but it doesn’t address my main concern: the lousy treatment of subscribers by Tangible Media. I currently subscribe to two other publications they handle so tonight sent this via an email contact page:
I’m a former Driver, and current NZ Today & Classic Driver, subscriber who is very annoyed by the way you failed to handle the demise of Driver. To find my subscription sold, without a peep from Tangible, to another publication I do not want is unforgivable.
Why did you not consider contacting subscribers with the option of transferring to Autocar or refunding any remaining subscription term? It would seem a common courtesy to people who have prepaid you for goods that will not be supplied.
I would like assurance that you will either continue to publish NZ Today & Classic Driver or give me the option of a refund of any outstanding subscription amount should they be headed towards the same fate.
Last week the May issue of Autocar arrived, again no sign of any Driver content, and it had a rather snide response to another reader’s letter regarding the “Driver incorporation”. Both these copies will be in the post tomorrow along with my request for a refund for the balance of my subscription.
As for Tangible Media? I’d consider carefully before subscribing to other publications they handle. It seems, from this customers perspective, they regard your custom as a mere asset to be traded without any regard. Given subscribers are paying for a product before they get it that’s a lousy attitude.
I got this response from Tangible today. While they offered something it wasn’t necessary or the reason I approached them so have edited that from the response seen here:
Thank you for your email. I really appreciate it you taking the time to let me know how you feel about this.
It is typical, when a magazine is sold, to transfer the subscriber base over to the new publisher. In this instance, as is their right, Fairfax have chosen to integrate the Driver brand into Autocar. In effect, one of the things they have purchased is the magazines relationship with you. I understand, how this would possibly annoy some people as it clearly has you.
As a VERY valued subscriber to our magazines I would like to offer…
I will continue to support NZ Today & Classic Driver, whoever publishes them, and am happy to support a small local publication as explained in this response:
Thanks for the offer. Perhaps some of my annoyance was because it went to Fairfax. I tend to regard them as the corporate heavy of publishing and part of the reason I preferred, and supported, Driver was it’s independence.
I have some appreciation of the commercial reality of publishing, kind of amazed how you do it really, but the shift from ‘Tangible will bring new opportunities...’ [for DRIVER] to gone without a mention was unexpected. I’d like to continue with NZ Today/Classic but today mailed the two copies of Autocar received to date back to Fairfax with a request for a refund of any outstanding Driver Subscription.