Subscriber Sues AutoWeek

Michael Pevets is one peeved AutoWeek subscriber.

So tweaked is Michael over the magazine’s January 2009 reduction in frequency that he’s gone after publisher Crain Communications in anticipation that another 300K readers will join the fray. Is Pevet’s a frivolous complaint or is there meat on there bones?

AutoWeek’s January 2009 issue marked a change from weekly to bi-weekly distribution. The publisher put forth increased coverage and expanded web experience as way of compensation. Most readers paid little mind to the dumbing down, and in these times it’s either print less or nothing at all.

However, the typical fix would mean extending sub duration to the same number of purchased issues over a longer time period. AutoWeek would therefore prorate subs out double the issues based on halving frequency: 52 issues now over two years. Other forms of credit have been used by publishers to good effect including premiums and ancillary products. Money back is rarely in the cards! Whatever, you gotta offer something tangible at least for the vocal minority.

To learn more about AutoWeek’s approach with the frequency adjustment, I asked Crain’s Audience Development Manager, Geri Wilson to chime in:

In January 2009, subscribers were advised Autoweek was being redesigned to a biweekly publication. We are adding more features and more content to each issue. More photography and more pages. Plus, a wealth of additional and even more timely content available on autoweek.com. And, the website includes Sunday night racing recaps, daily video news, video car reviews, and expanded race car coverage.  I can add is that we are audited by well regarded, third party audit agency, ABC and what we did with our frequency changed followed all of ABC’s rules.

Okay, so more and better content and an improved online experience, but that’s not what subscribers paid for. In my view the right thing on January 2009 would have seen AutoWeek extend all subs 2X accompanied by a mass early-bird extension to help alleviate postponed renewal income.  A publisher can’t halve value received and not suffer ill-will. At least not from Mr. Pevets and company…

On October 9, 2009, Pevets filed a complaint on behalf of himself and all of the other AutoWeek subscribers who were affected by the reduced publication schedule. Included in the complaint were counts alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment arising out of the changed schedule.  In addition, the complaint included prayers that the case be maintained as a class action, with Pevets as the class representative.

Above taken from the Decision and Judgement posted here.

Yet subscribers are unsecured creditors. They have limited rights, and have suffered negligible financial hardships few attorneys would consider worth pursuing.

So if you’re ultra cautious about spending sub dollars, and your local newsstand is now a Verizon store, just go online at autoweek.com or whatever social network of choice.

See also CPI’s earlier coverage of AutoWeek’s frequency change here.

… And for a truly over-the-top rant go no further than The Truth About Cars.

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There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. A few extra issues would have gone a long way and I don’t known anyone happy about Auto Week. I don’t use the web much and leave that to the kids. I let all my mags run out except motorsports.

  2. Autoweek had an edge when you needed news fast, like on a weekly basis but that’s gone and the web has more to offer no cost. Changing publishing schedule least of the magazine’s problems.

  3. And you are going to tie up the court system and waist tax payers’ money over this?!?

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