MYAJC gives me a sad

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 31, 2013

I wanted this to work.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently created its MYAJC page as a subscription-based service providing exclusive digital content.

Full disclosure: I work as a journalist and, technically speaking, AJC is competition. We cross paths, but I have nothing but respect for the people who work there. My background is in daily newspapers, so I have a rooting interest for the industry as a whole.

I purchased a subscription last week. I cancelled it on Friday.

My decision had nothing to do with the quality of the journalism, which is excellent.

I cancelled it because I wasn’t able to access that journalism, even after I paid for it.

While I’m no computer expert, I’m fairly capable of giving people money. I’ve used Netflix and Hulu for years. Both are pretty straightforward. I pay them my money and I receive their services. I stop paying them, they stop providing me services.

It never even crossed my mind that someone could mess up this very simple concept. I’ve have a hard time explaining my experience with MYAJC to other people.

I’ll try to explain it as best I can.

When I purchased my AJC subscription on last week, I was told that it had been processed successfully. I logged in. I clicked the button to “Read the complete story.” Then I found myself in a strange loop where every time I logged in and clicked on an article, I would get this screen:

Yes, this happened.

Yes, this happened.

It did not matter how many times I tried to log in to my account. I signed out and logged in. I cleared my cache and cookies and logged in. I even restarted my computer and logged in. Nothing.

I called customer service. I asked why this could possibly be happening when I had 1) paid for the service and 2) logged in successfully.

The person on the customer service line gave me an explanation that’s even more confusing than explaining why I can’t log in to MYAJC.

I’ll try to explain the explanation.

Customer Service Person asked if I had a confirmation number. I said I didn’t. I asked if MYAJC had sent me a confirmation email. Customer Service Person said MYAJC doesn’t send confirmation emails.

At this point, I should’ve realized moving forward with this was pointless. But I have a soft spot for newspapers, so I let it go.

I asked why in the world an online subscription service would not send a confirmation email. Customer Service Person didn’t have an answer, but advised me to click the back button on my browser to find the confirmation number. Of course by that point, I had lost the number.

If I had known I needed it, I would’ve written it down. I never saw anything during the sign up process indicating such.

I asked Customer Service Person to look up my account information and she told me that she couldn’t do that.

She couldn’t do that?

Yes, she couldn’t do that. She said it would take two days to process.

Two days?

Yes, Customer Service Person said. Two days.

Customer Service Person then transferred me to Technical Support.

Technical Support said something to the effect of, “I don’t know what the heck Customer Service Person is talking about. That doesn’t sound right.”

Technical Support could not fix my problem. He advised me to call back.

I hung up the phone, knowing that I could not adequately explain how confusing this system is without sounding like I was nuts. It wasn’t their fault anyway. They had to play the crummy hand someone else dealt them. I should add all of the employees I spoke to on the phone were very professional and courteous to me while trying to resolve my issue.

I made up my mind to cancel my subscription. Two days later, I contacted another Customer Service Person to do just that.

Customer Service Person 2 asked me to hold on while she investigated. After a moment, she told me to look at my account. A miracle! I had access. Snap. Just like that.

I asked Customer Service Person 2 how in the world I could pay for a subscription service and not receive it instantaneously. Customer Service Person 2 said it was something I wouldn’t really understand. I believed her.

I was relieved and overjoyed that the newspaper was giving me the service I had paid for. I read a few articles. I enjoyed them immensely.

It’s such great journalism, so worthy of my support.

But, alas, that golden carriage reverted to its original pumpkin form.

I attempted to access the articles again and the same crazy thing happened. MYAJC recognized my login but I couldn’t read the articles.

When I called back Friday to cancel, Customer Service Person 3 said she would process the cancellation and issue a refund.

She said the reason for my cancellation would be forwarded to Technical Support, and they would investigate.

Investigate away, Technical Support.

Soothe away, Customer Service Persons.

Going away, subscriptions.

I write this post not out of anger, but out of love. I love newspapers. I love journalism.

I hate what has happened to our industry. I want paid subscriptions to work.

This is how it should work: I sign up and give you a bullet-proof username and password.  You send me a confirmation email. I click “confirm.”

Boom. That’s it. End of process.

I have no idea why anyone would deviate from this time-tested and efficient formula.

I want newspapers to thrive. This makes me sad.

I’d like to add, for the record, that I’d love to resubscribe again if they can fix the issue. It’s a great paper.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Ehh, it’s far from a GREAT paper. So liberal and sloppy at times. But it is definitely a LOCAL paper. I took the print subscription for most of the 60s through 80s. But your experience does not surprise me at all. AJC has been sloppily run, IMO, for a long time. I had bad experiences with customer service when trying to renew and/or cancel print subscriptions. The site has been hit-or-miss since inception. And now they want to charge for premium content, creating a hybrid site where many articles are available for free, but you pay a huge fee to read a few more of interest.

    RIP, AJC.

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