Times subscriptions

Posted on Categories Announcement
I’m starting this thread in case others have received a letter as I did this morning (Saturday 2 March) effectively doubling the cost of my subscription to The Times from next month.

Update Monday 4th March. I have also posted the following message in the discussion thread below so as to continue the discussion in time order.

Posted by David Parfitt (Times Puzzles  Editor) in the Crossword Club forum.

Thanks for all your comments on this subject. I’m afraid that I haven’t been involved with these changes in any way, but I have made the relevant team aware of this thread. The changes are only affecting around 6-7 per cent of subscribers (those on the the web pack (£2 per week), the Sunday digital pack (£2 per week) or the weekend digital pack (£3 per week)), so many of you will not be affected. If you are affected and have concerns or queries about the changes, I would recommend phoning the Customer Services team on 0800 009 4701.

55 comments on “Times subscriptions”

  1. There’s some discussion of this on the club forum. I haven’t received a letter yet, but I assume it’s on its way.
    1. Thanks for this, Kevin, and the forum makes interesting reading. It looks as if there may be another batch of cancellations from contributors there and I can only hope it doesn’t have too adverse an effect here. I shall ring The Times tomorrow and see if there are any other options available but I suppose if it comes to it I shall have to pay up, although it feels like extortion as I really only want access to the crosswords.

      Edited at 2019-03-03 07:02 am (UTC)

      1. I wonder if they really expect to make up in increased subscription fees for the cancellation in subscriptions. I especially wonder about the newcomers to the Quick Cryptics; how many of them will find it worth their while to pay twice as much?
        1. It’s price discovery. They will see and measure the effect very precisely. It’s a fairly aggressive increase but is I have no doubt informed by past experience.
  2. I object, but do not have the tree-ware alternative. So I will remain steadfast, but under protest.
    Doubling the cost is remarkable, but soon we will be paying for everything on-line – heaven forfend, even the BBC news service.

    It’s called progress!

  3. I’ve just used the Times’s online “chat” to check whether my subscription is to go up on 1 April. Yes, they confirmed, the charge will double!
    I am fuming. Yes, I know that paper newspapers cost at least £1 per copy from the high street newsagent (so if I bought The Times most days I’d be spending £300+ per annum) but looking more broadly at the economics of putting journalistic content online versus the machine, materials and transport/distribution costs of the paper version, I’d say News International are set to increase their profit very significantly with these raised subscription prices.
    I only subscribe for the crossword. The editorial content of the weekday and Sunday Times get shoddier and shoddier as the months go by. Vacuous news stories, flippant comment, celebrity-focussed ephemera and second-hand syndicated content to pad out the pages.
    The TftT blog is excellent — and it’s completely free. To get the TftT benefit I suppose I shall simply have to cough up whatever Murdoch chooses to charge me for a subscription to his tabloid rag.
    1. To buy across the counter The Times is currently £1.80 Monday-Friday, £2.00 on Saturdays and £2.70 on Sundays
  4. Of course, the Times could introduce further “niche” subscriptions at more tempting prices: just the sport, just the news & current affairs, or just the puzzles. The technology to restrict access online to the various components of the whole newspaper is widely available and used these days.
    1. You’re right about the niche subs Pserve. That’s exactly what the NY Times does with its crosswords, and they also give you the option to subscribe to the weekend editions only. It would be nice if the UK Times had a re-think…… This comes in a week when we’ve seen our Federal tax bite increase by about one-third thanks to last year’s “tax cuts and jobs act”. (Loud sniff.)
      1. So the NY Times already does that? Oh, that’s good — maybe our Times could pick that up.
        Higher taxes all round? Ouch! Over here, we’ve got the financial hit from Brexit to look forward to. Bring it on. Whoo-hoo!
  5. I don’t know how some of you got it so cheap! I’ve been paying £26/month since the end of my free trial some time ago. But now I read the paper on my kindle and can print off the crosswords to do on paper, so it’s cheaper than buying the paper paper as I used to do every day (except Sundays). For what i get, I think it’s just about OK value for money.
    1. I agree it’s still good value for those who would be buying the newspaper most days come what may, but until a few years ago it was possible to buy a subscription to the Crossword Club for £25 a year and that was all that many contributors required. The separate sub was done away with and TftT (and the Club on-line) lost a large number of followers who were not prepared or could not afford to pay the minimum new sub of £104 p.a. – an increase of 300% to buy a paper they didn’t want to read. Now that’s doubling to £204 p.a.

      Edited at 2019-03-03 07:22 pm (UTC)

      1. For what it’s worth I always thought that £25 a year was a ridiculously low price to pay for crossword club membership. On the other hand £204 is a lot just for crosswords, particularly when there are so many free options.
        I subscribe to lots of newspapers but my main reason for paying for the Times is the crossword and I confess I’m quite price insensitive. That’s addiction for you I guess.
  6. Hmm – I have the full pack (Classic 7 Day; 3 months version) which costs me £34.67 pcm. Since having, very sadly, had to cancel the daily deliveries (we’re fairly rural, and they have become much too unreliable), I have been relying on free copies from my supermarket shopping on three days a week and using the vouchers at any convenient shop. I am planning to reduce this to £26 pcm for just the digital copies and printing off the puzzle to amuse myself during my evening Costa. If I could rely on there being a copy in Costa I’d cancel altogether and rely on the BBC website for news. Surely no-one can deny the deterioration in reporting/content in both the Sunday and weekday Times… Possibly the only column I look forward to reading these days is Libby Purvis – for straightforward common sense and good arguments written in good English. This is probably a throwback to her having been a ‘proper’ career journalist. Sadly there doesn’t seem to be a younger generation of her quality. The decline of the content has been blamed on the newspapers wanting to have the same (shorter) content across their digital versions too. It is interesting to note that the quality journals eg Spectator/Economist etc have been reported as increasing circulation simply because they give researched in-depth and more detailed reporting… Together with the price hikes, it seems the newspapers are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. £26 x 12 = £312 pa. Is this too much? Very probably. If you’re currently paying less, I think you’ll be on a hiding to nothing if you protest. However, I hope you get a better deal and I, for one, would love to hear about it.
  7. I started as a £25 pa subscriber to the Times crosswords. When Times decided to scrap this scheme and insisted that we take the whole paper, I hesitated but eventually acquiesced as I was still blogging the Times puzzle every other Thursday and I felt I needed to repay a huge act of kindness received during my student days in the UK.

    As a university student in the early 70’s, I was able to get the Times at half price (cover price was 2 or 3 new pence). This privilege continued when I was a student accountant with the ICAEW.

    So, I feel obliged to continue to repay even though I do not get the same service in Kuala Lumpur e.g. due to regional copyright reasons, I am unable to access videos of, say, some EPL snippets. Besides, I really cannot envisage starting a day without first downloading and completing the Times crossword; so you can say I am suckered for life whatever the price I have to pay for this privilege.

  8. All part of the decline in western civilisation.I’ve been paying 26 quid a month since they scrapped the club only membership,never could work out how to get it cheaper.Bonkers since I get the paper free from Waitrose most days anyway (included with the bottle of claret; that is bound to end soon).All so that I can do the crossword at midnight when I am pickled anyway.The leader board is a farce and the “forum” died when they killed the “club”.

  9. Well, if this reported increase is right then that’s the end of my Times solving career and my TfTT involvement, too.

    I’m on a low income and have been debating for some time whether I could justify the current outlay, considering that I subscribe only for the crossword. I have no interest in the paper, which these days I find pretty execrable. If the price is doubling there’s not even a decision for me to make. No way on earth I can justify that.

    1. We too will be cancelling after many years of subscribing for very little. We enjoy the crosswords but only glance at the rest of the paper. We’ve decided to buy crossword books and spend the subscription savings on wine….🥂 Just checked, The Telegraph are offering a subscription at a lower price but their prices are increasing soon.
      1. It’s a shame, isn’t it. I see the Washington Post, a fine paper, currently asks $60 a year, or about £45, for a sub with ads, half as much again to be ad-free.

        Edited at 2019-03-04 02:57 pm (UTC)

      2. I ended up at the Times because a Telegraph subscription didn’t include the crossword! Make sure you check before you switch!
  10. I am on the max package and get the paper daily.
    I was sucked in a few years ago with a low initial offer but, on balance, about £1 per day is pretty good value I think.
    My usual yardstick is the price of alcohol in pubs and restaurants. The latest receipts in my wallet show a bottle of Montepulciano at £28.50 and a lager at an Indian restaurant in the Bloomberg Arcade (opposite Cannon Street!) at £4.50. I could get the paper for nearly a month for that.
      1. The restaurant is Brigadiers. It’s pricey and quite posh; we had the set menu at £20 each with a couple of lagers.
        I enjoyed it but wouldn’t rate it as my top Indian place.
  11. I pay £8.76 a month for a digital Sunday Times subscription which gives me digital access to all the papers (every day) on my laptop and smartphone but not on my tablet. They don’t advertise this one!
    1. Thanks for this, but sadly I suspect your lettter is on its way!

      Edited at 2019-03-04 10:28 am (UTC)

  12. I live in Patagonia, so no printed editions. But the daily crossword fix is a must. I just resubscribe at the trial rate every three months, using a different email address. Addresses, like the club forum, cost nothing.
  13. I’m not sure how many devices you are allowed access on for a subscription but it’s at least two – my Dad reads it on his iPad using my account. Couldn’t people pair up and share an account with one person paying the subscription and the other person setting up a regular online payment to the first person?

    Jeremy’s suggestion above also sounds good.

    1. I hold no official brief around here, but I’m sure I’m right in saying that TftT must not be associated with any such arrangement. We are very much dependent on the goodwill of the Times and however much we may disagree with their pricing policies we are not here to defraud them.

      Edited at 2019-03-04 06:10 pm (UTC)

      1. Fair point Jack, I was thinking purely from a financial perspective it would make sense for The Times to have two users share a subscription rather than lose both of them.
      2. but, as long as the two aren’t using concurrently, isn’t this in essence the same as me handing over my paper copy to someone else to read gratis?
  14. Too much for me. It’s absolutely right that we pay for quality journalism, and for all its sins The Times is still a decent newspaper (by the standards of our age). But doubling the cost? Nah, I’m out.

    Fortunately, we have a subscription at work, so I’ll ask them to keep the week’s copies and will do the crossword a week in arrears. Or buy it for e.g. a long train journey.

  15. Posted today in the Times Crossword Forum:

    Thanks for all your comments on this subject. I’m afraid that I haven’t been involved with these changes in any way, but I have made the relevant team aware of this thread. The changes are only affecting around 6-7 per cent of subscribers (those on the the web pack (£2 per week), the Sunday digital pack (£2 per week) or the weekend digital pack (£3 per week)), so many of you will not be affected.

    If you are affected and have concerns or queries about the changes, I would recommend phoning the Customer Services team on 0800 009 4701.

    Edited at 2019-03-04 04:49 pm (UTC)

  16. Apparently it appears this is so, sadly. Please see David Parfitt’s message now added to my introduction
  17. How many packages are there?

    I pay 5.00 GBP per month (6.64 USD last month). I don’t remember what the package was called. As far as I know, I can only get at the puzzles (which is all I want). I haven’t received any notifications.

    – Vince

    1. As far as I’m aware the last subscribers with ‘Crossword only’ packages were forced to upgrade to include the newspaper several years ago, so if you’re still on one I’m rather surprised. Also the ‘Crossword only’ sub was annual at £25, which works out a lot less than £5.00 per month. I guess what I’m saying is that you probably already have access to the newspaper if you want it.

      Edited at 2019-03-05 10:17 am (UTC)

      1. vefatica is on the International Package, which is apparently unaffected at £5/m and thus set to be even better value than it already is.
  18. …. but fees for crossword setters have remained static for years. Maybe some of you who perhaps have pay rises from time to time would like to put in a good word for us, though I am assured by The Times taht we are costs that have to be kept down!
    1. Thanks for your input. I can’t speak for everybody here but I’m sure most contributors wouldn’t have objected to a modest increase, especially if it were to be ring-fenced to the crossword budget, but a rise of 100% (plus 1 penny, in my case) is a bit much to take all in one go, especially as many of us don’t even want the newspaper, only the puzzles.

      Edited at 2019-03-05 06:46 am (UTC)

  19. I have the International Pack, and $160 a year, approximately, would seem exorbitant. But I just chatted with an agent via the net and was assured that the International Pack is not doubling!
    But it’s hardly fair, what the Times is doing to a lot of you.
    The disparity in prices different people are paying here is remarkable.

    Edited at 2019-03-05 08:52 am (UTC)

    1. I’m pleased for you, Guy. I wonder if the International Pack is available to UK subscribers!
      1. If they sign up while overseas I think you can – they might geolocate your IP dress and assume you’re not from UK. My memory is that Verlaine signed up for the International Pack (by mistake or by chance) while he was visiting New York. About the time the subs went up from GBP25 to GBP100… 18 months ago? I’m in Australia and signed up to the same GBP5/month International Pack after reading of his adventures.
  20. I’m on the Sunday times digital pack, so get full online access plus a voucher for a print copy of the ST each week (which I give to my mum).

    This costs me 8.67 a month – which is still the price being advertised on the subscriptions page.

    Confusing much?

  21. I received an email telling me my Web pack sub was to rise from £100 a year to £208 a year.
    I called the UK number 0800 009 4701 (via Skype) and spoke to a helpful chap called Josh.
    On my threatening to cancel the sub, he told me there was now an International Pack and he would move me to that immediately and for full 7 day access on all media (PC, Android) it would be only £5 a month.
    Admittedly before 2014 I had originally registered a UK address for the credit card being used, but I switched to PayPal a while back so they hadn’t got me down as French resident. It wasn’t clear when this International Pack option was first offered, but probably only recently.
    Hope this helps anyone in a similar position.
    1. I got the sub increase email too because I had the rolling web pack. Just called them (per Pip’s suggestion). “Heather” the other end had to check with her manager which took about 3 minutes and then she switched me over to the international pack and read me the terms and conditions. One thing to note – you can’t use the 800 number from the US so you pay the going transatlantic rate for your phone call. And I must add that this option was not offered to me when I got the notification – which seems rather sneaky of them.
      1. I pay $5 extra on my Verizon bill for international access, which I don’t use every month, but whenever I do, the price of a single call is significantly reduced.
        Glad to see you’ve got the International Pack!
        I think you can change subs via Internet chat. That’s how I “talked” with the reassuring agent last night (this morning).
        1. Thanks for this – I think I must have the same deal with Verizon!
  22. I recently discovered that most UK public libraries offer FREE digital copies of newspapers and magazines. The service extends both to domestic and international publications. One only has to join the library and follow the links from its website.
  23. I had this email over a week ago and was originally surprised by the lack of comments but I suppose that I was just one of the first to get it. I posted on the “official ” forum but will repeat some of it here.

    When I rang customer service they were very keen for me not to cancel. The final offer was for a £20 waterstones voucher ( quote: they have some good crossword books) and four weeks at the old rate with no commitment to continue at the end of the four weeks. So if you are thinking about continuing then ring up and at least put off the increase for a while and get a voucher.
    If sufficient people ring in they might get the message that we are not just cash cows.
    My subscription has gone up from £25 per year to £208 in about 2 years. An incerase of over 800%. Sadly I dont expect that the membership will have fallen by anything like seven eighths so to the bean counters they can say that they are making more money.

  24. I walk to my local library and photocopy the crossword. I pay 10p to my local council instead of £1.80 to ol’ moneybags.
    1. this appears to be the best option
      both a mental and physical workout, supporting the local library and council, and sticking it (or one up) to the man

      what’s not to like?

      I just wish I lived near one

  25. Spoke to the Times today and have at least obtained 3 months stay of execution. She said they might see if they can do something more for me then. I gather its cancellations and threats of cancellation all day long at the moment there so perhaps somebody will bring pressure to bear.
  26. Thanks for the warning, by the way. Just had my call to put the screws on. Delayed my increase by three months, but doubling the price does seem rather steep. As with many of you, I pretty much just do the crosswords, so further enticements of being able to read the daily paper on my tablet don’t do much for me…

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