A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Appalling customer service from Nine Media’s Fairfax business when I try and cancel by subscription to The Age

I decided to cancel my subscription to The Age a three days ago. I figured it would be easy – log into their website, select my account and click cancel from the next billing cycle.

I figured, 1, 2, 3 and I’d be done. I figured that because that’s how online works. It’s easy, self-serve, fast.

But, not at Fairfax Media. Their approach is broken, cumbersome and laden with barriers.

I logged in. Then, I had to log in again when I selected my account. There was no explanation as to why I had to log in twice. I guess it as because they are two different tech systems.

Anyone, I got in. But once in, there was no button I could click to self manage the account.

I had to call or email the. So, I selected email, thinking I could write an email. But, no, that would be too simple for Fairfax Media to implement.

On selecting email, it took me to another page that I had to complete. They asked for my subscriber number. I went back to my account page, there is no subscriber number. I checked and checked and could not find it. So, back to the web form, I completed the details including having to tell them why I wanted to cancel.

But that was not enough. They will consider my request. They emailed suggesting I call them if it is a time sensitive request. It’s not, so I’ll let it play out. Gees, I hope they don’t call. I don’t want to speak with anyone. But … here we are 3 days later and I’ve heard nothing.

As I said, appalling customer service from Nine Media’s Fairfax.

If I was a Fairfax shareholder I’d be thinking about the manpower cost of such a broken subscription management system. Talk about broken, old-school, out of date. It’s a joke. My own small business subscription related consumer websites offer far better customer self-service experiences.

It’s simple really, Fairfax Media. I want to cancel my subscription. These hoops and barriers feel like it is a business strategy to keep customers, by making it too hard to quit.

The experience turns me off. It makes me want to tell others how bad dealing with them is.

The approach by Fairfax Media to managing online subscriptions is what I’d expect from a dinosaur business, a business out of touch with online. Oh, wait…

Customer Service

Join the discussion

  1. Michael

    I am curious Mark, why subscribe and why now cancel?


  2. Mark Fletcher

    Michael, I subscribed in 2017 as part of a series of subscriptions supporting journalism. I decided to cancel after the poor coverage by The Age of matters related to the Liberal party. In my view, the Costello chairmanship is having a consequence on editorial, whether deliberate or not.

    I am all for reading and considering diverse views. The Age and Nine Media generally is not fair and balanced in its reporting any more.


  3. Bruce Holliday

    Ironic isn’t it! Simpler to just buy the old fashioned paper or not buy the paper! I agree it should be easier to unsubscribe.


  4. Shayne

    The Herald Sun is exactly the same. You can’t manage your acct on line. The only way to cancel a subscription is to phone. 3 times I have tried only to hang up after waiting for 15 minutes each time. So I am forced to continue to pay for a subscription I don’t want


  5. Peter

    Still the go to source of accurate and trustworthy news for me. A great stable of journalists with Waleed Aly, Ross Gittens, Stephen Bartholameusz and Adele Ferguson to name just a few. The Age has always lent to the left of the political spectrum, but in a more balanced fashion, without the shrill call to identity politics favoured by other left wing media. As for their subscription platform, unfortunately this has more to do with dwindling resources in a sadly failing business model. Australia will be poorer with its inevitable demise.


  6. Graeme Day

    Peter, I agree with the failing busines model, this is everywhere.
    Media as in print is a mixture of earings income between Cover price and advertising 25% (used to be now 12.5% for retail only) The failure is electronic media where I havea coice and find it irritating to accept advertisement whils reading and to cap it off a follow through on every and each othe article I look at on line with an ad dupilcating an enquiry I’ve made that has nothing to do with the aricle I am reading.
    This does not happen with print media.
    The area that I live in is on notice that the distribution by agents is about to be discontinued within 12 months.
    i subscribe to newspapers and have the home delivered as my local newsagent has a (at the moment profitable distribution system) service to do so and I enjoy the”paper” to read and also as I am often out of office for days visiting Country newsagents I have the benefit of electronic engagement with my ipad, computers Apple as well as Windows and i phone . The best of both Worlds.
    Really not sure of what I will do when print is stopped, probably at a reasonable guess cancel the subscription altogether.
    Thus the enevitable demise as you put it for print at least in affordable volume , is such.


  7. Mark Fletcher

    Finally, today, resolved.


  8. Graeme Day

    Great news. at last he says -frustration extreme- unfortunately just part of today’s business and general attitude.
    So much of the I.T and genreal attitude of do it yourself with no personal service.
    if one does manage to put both service and product together they will brain it.


  9. John

    Looking at their cancellation form, it seems the subscriber number is optional.

    I was going to cancel, then I remembered the AFL season starts next month 🙂


  10. Marlene Davies

    After 2 years of irregular delivery I cancelled the direct debit arrangement only to find my subscription of 45 years was cancelled without notice. No loyalty, no customer service whatsoever.


  11. Peter OConnell

    It is harder trying to cancel The Age than it is getting sense out of a politician. When people say newspapers are living in the dark ages I never thought I would encounter it from The Age. Your online site is a disgrace and I believe a 4 year old would do a better job, if you think by making subscription cancellation harder will stop people opting out then you are more out of touch than I thought.

    What you have achieved through this process is that I will make it a mission of mine to tell as many people to get out of this archaic biased news service, this is coming from someone who once worked for this paper when it was a credible and valued news source. Ch 9 has a great deal to answer for but it is not unexpected.


  12. Ron Edgar

    Fairfax subscriber ‘service’ is the most indifferent service that I have ever dealt with.
    Ever since the change to contractor delivery, rather than newsagent, we have had problems.
    Despite repeated requests for the contact details of the delivery agent, or for someone from the ‘subscriber service’ to contact me, no response – just an email, occasionally, to proffer a file number.
    We have subscribed for over 25 years and it is clear that our continued business is not valued.
    Why do we continue to subscribe?
    The journalism is far more ‘honest and reliable’ than anything from the Murdoch stable – although, these days I tend to balance my reading with Schwartz media publications for a more independent view.
    Today, again, there was no delivery – if we are lucky we will get 2 or 3 deliveries a week – never a full week of deliveries!


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