A Tale of Two Price Objections

At the end of last year, I was faced with two subscription renewal decisions—The Wall Street Journal and Sirius Radio. Previously in both cases I have successfully played the game I call, “Holy crap are you people stupid or what?”

Here’s how the game is played:

1) My subscription comes to an end.

2) I call customer service to cancel.

3) If they don’t immediately drop the price, I cancel.

4) Often on the spot, but at the latest within two weeks, I receive a phone call, email or letter with miraculous news: They want me back and are willing to drop the price in return for my renewal.

This latest experience, however, was quite different…

On Wednesday, Dec. 26, I called The Journal. In the past, it’s amazing how quickly the cost has gone from a $99 introductory rate to a $212 regular rate and then back to a special rate that they just happened to find, all by saying “I quit.” In our world, that would be like the customer saying, “Your price is too high.”

So, I told the annoying recording that I wanted to cancel, and was immediately routed to someone specially chosen for their kindness and ability to express empathy while quietly urging the customer to reconsider.

Or so I thought.

My WSJ customer service rep’s name was Michael. I told him I wish to cancel my subscription. He said all the usual things (“Sorry to see you go. You’ve been a loyal customer. Blah, blah, blah.”) and I thought I knew what was coming next, “Would you stay if I could give you a better price?”

Instead, Michael told me, “Our new CEO has done away with playing games. Now, everyone pays the same rate: $25.99 a month. You are currently paying less than $18 a month. The only way to keep that price is to hold onto your subscription and I’m not sure that I can even hold that price for you past your renewal date.” (Those were his exact words).

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • Michael Nuccio

    Hello Bill, Another great article!

  • Paul

    Great article.
    The only problem I see is most printing companies do not have a strong "brand" in which they can go "WSJ" on a client. This article should be a wake up call to those who think "me too" all the time.

  • Stephanie Gaddin

    Had the entire office in stitches Bill – thanks for that ! And we wholeheartedly agree with you !

  • Stephanie Gaddin

    PS – will be sharing this on the company page sometime next week if that’s OK with you ? :-)

  • Sarge

    It’s also too bad that there are "loyal" customers who work their suppliers over like you did Bill – but nice job I guess! The cycle continues.

  • Aaron Helmholdt

    Thanks for this article, Bill. The price game is one you will always lose but the value game will stand the test of time!

  • Bert Freeman

    Another timely article Bill… Spot on again!!