Why Conde Nast hates me

Yesterday, Conde Nast finally caved in and is selling iPad subscriptions to the New Yorker at a reasonable price. Not only that, but [if you get the print one, you can supposedly get the digital and iPad version for free](https://w1.buysub.com/pubs/N3/NYR/IpadForm.jsp?cds_page_id=99249 “New Yorker subscription to Print + Digital Access”).

The New Yorker

I say supposedly because it doesn’t work for me. Conde Nast hates me because I’ve been a loyal subscriber for six years now.

### Why I’m excited about the iPad ###

For those of you not following at home, I used to have print subscription. Then when the Kindle came out I switched to a Kindle subscription. Because of how brain-dead the publishing industry is, a switch meant buying the Kindle edition and discontinuing my print subscription when I noticed an overlap—that’s because the Kindle app is considered a different product to Conde Nast.

After a few months of using the iPad, I decided to abandon my Kindle and use the iPad Kindle app. The only thing I lost in the trade was my digital subscription to the Kindle was my New Yorker subscription. I decided I wait it out until Conde Nast either caved in to Apple’s egregious subscription policy, or sold their U.S. offerings on Zinio. In the meantime I looked for substitutes to tide me over.

The closest thing I found was Esquire which is like trying to split the difference between GQ and New Yorker—if you are older, stupider, and more liberal—if that’s even possible. You then have to supplement it with Smithsonian and Rolling Stone, but pretty soon you’re reading about 2x more for half the content—and it’s hard to plow through an issue of the New Yorker, let alone New Yorker plus another New Yorker’s worth about movie stars, clothing you will never buy, and some gadgets that you read about last year on Gizmodo. I even tried Maxim: worst $5 I spent in my life—and I once spent $7 to see Highlander 2 in the movie theatre: “there should have only been one.” I actually could feel my IQ dropping as I read that magazine; coincidentally, I had the same feeling while watching Highlander 2.

Before this week, you got the iPad subscription only by buying each issue individually. This meant you could enjoy the New Yorker on your iPad for the measily price of $234.53/year. Or, you could just purchase a new, top-of-the-line Amazon Kindle 3G, get an ad-free Kindle subscription to the New Yorker, and pocket $10 every year.

I’m shocked that the New Yorker sold poorly on the iPad! 😉

### What I chose ###

I decided on the print+digital subscription. Partly because I think giving 30% to Apple for a magazine sub they don’t even develop, design, or deliver is highway robbery, and partly because this means I don’t have to spring for two Kindle subscriptions if Marie wants to read some of it. The only cost is $10 and getting a dead-tree mailed to me every week. But since I’m going to be able to ditch Conde Nast’s dead-tree Wired and dead-tree GQ soon, I think I may pull in net zero with respect to my plans of world dominance through selfish deforestation.

Yes, this works out to $70/year + a whole lot of recycling. And yes, that’s 2x the cost of a Kindle subscription, but I sold my Kindle. Plus, it means I can pawn my New Yorker DVD-ROMs on some unsuspecting soul.

### If you are a loyal New Yorker subscriber, Conde Nast hates you ###

I purchased it. The first rude awakening is that it took me about 10 minutes to figure out that you cannot log in before you purchase it. An account is only for changing your account information and accessing the digital version, not for actually buying or renewing an expired subscription.

Then I try accessing my digital version. Nope: I have to “verify” my account—you know the same account with the same e-mail I’ve had ever since magazine went online? The verification step consists of typing your (new) account number and your zip code.

(Oh side note: I have two New Yorker accounts, their e-store uses an entirely different login system and I once bought their digital archives on DVD-ROM there in order to recycle my old print mags.)

But then you hit the submit button and nothing happens.

Okay, maybe it’s because I, like 8% of the internet, use Safari. Let’s try Firefox. Nope, same deal.

Maybe 1Password had my password wrong, I should reset that. Did that—can you believe I was able to do that even though I haven’t “verified” my account?—but same deal.

After much handwringing, I figured out the trick is to register for a NEW account—that’s right register for a new account with the same e-mail as your existing account. This way the “challenge” of the existing account isn’t locked behind some broken form. Oh, by the way, not this registration link, but the link they call the “digital edition” registration, which is helpfully buried behind a FAQ page which isn’t linked in any of the obvious places—unless “obvious” means teh Google.

So I’m in right? Yes for online; no for iPad. When I get to the iPad, the authentication is rejected. All iterations of my passwords are rejected. When I try to register for an account, the e-mail and password are rejected (all iterations). Finally, I tried to register for a new account, gave my subscription account number and zip code, and said I want a new e-mail account using the same e-mail that I already have typed in six or seven times now and it lets me in!

(Oh yeah, the form fields in the “Tablet access” screen are broken: you have to tap them a zillion times before they engage and autocorrect is active everywhere but the password field. You know its bad when you memorize a 10 digit account number by osmosis just because you keep having to type it in.)

Whoo hoo! It then lets me in to a page saying I can “buy” any of the issues at $4.99 or subscribe at $59.99 a year. Somehow it created a new account but didn’t attach my existing subscription to it.


I go back and try to re-create my account and I get: “Account number is already in use.” Argh! Six years of post-graduate education in Physics, ten years of commercial web development experience on some of the biggest sites of the internet, and I have to resort to this and sit through their auto-reply that warns me under penalty of death not to actually reply to their e-mail.

(Yes, it’s actually easier and cheaper to subscribe to Maxim 14 times on your iPad than to subscribe to the New Yorker once.)

So much fail.

### Let’s review shall we ###

I only did this so I can get New Yorker on my iPad. I cannot get the New Yorker on my iPad. The only purpose of the print version is to for bathroom emergencies because Marie keeps forgetting to refill the T.P. bin next to the toilets.

And all this could have been solved if engineers working at Conde Nast knew how to write this particularly difficult SQL query:

SELECT * from users WHERE email=?

Really, is this too much to ask?

### Update: 2011-05-15 ###

I sent two support requests, one through the website and one through the feedback portion of the iPad app. I received no response (other than the automated one) from the website request. From the iPad app, I received a response asking me to go through the process and tell them what is wrong—even though I went through the process and told them what was wrong in my original request on the iPad version.

What it looks like is that if something goes wrong during registration, it marks the subscription as being “used” but it may not have correctly marked your account as having a paid subscription for it. You’d think they would put something that sensitive in a transaction and check if something is being used by doing a `SELECT FROM ipad_users WHERE subscription_id=?` and noticing that it returns 0 rows.

### Update: 2011-05-17 ###

This time they sent me generic instruction on how to log in to the system. They still refuse to read where I told them I can log in from the website just fine but, when I log in from the iPad, it doesn’t have my subscription attached! This is the third correspondence with them that could have been resolved if they had read my original message instead of sending me back boilerplate.

Hopefully this will explain it to them:

> As I have mentioned before that I can log in to the website just fine and view the articles
> online. However, when I try logging in with the same account from the iPad it asks me to
> purchase even though I have the print subscription.
> Let’s go over what happened:
> 1. Purchased subscription to print version because you are offering iPad with it and I’d rather give *you* money than Apple. I could care less about the print format.
> 2. Register and bound subscription online in your website
> 3. Tried to log in to iPad version. This said there was no subscription
> 4. Tried to log in click on the red button and go through the registration of subscription to existing account. This failed because it said there was no such account in the system (tried multiple times with different passwords, same deal).
> 5. Tried to log in and click the red button and register a subscription with a *new* account using the *same* e-mail as my existing account. This succeeded, but it dropped me to a logged-in state without my subscription attached!
> 6. Logged out and logged in. Still not attacched
> 7. Tried to register subscription on iPad with existing account, but I get thrown out even earlier saying that that subscription ID is already in use!
> The Subscription ID *is not in use*. You somehow deleted the subscription id from the iPad account even though I can access (but never use) the online edition.
> As for the print edition? I have it sent to my new mailing address where I don’t live yet, so I don’t know if I’m receiving them. I don’t care about them.

Maybe now they’ll clue in that when they do account creation, they should handle the merge properly so the subscription_id is preserved or simply lock out the ability to create accounts on top of existing accounts. The three phase process where they handle transfering subscriptions across what must be independent databases (for each “product” even though it’s for the *same* magazine) is beyond clueless—just what you expect for a publisher of print magazines. 😀

### Update: 2011-05-18 ###

I got a terse e-mail from them (I guess they’re sick of me) telling to quit out of the iPad app and log back in.

1. Logged out of the New Yorker App.
2. Tapped the app button to go to the home screen.
3. Double-pressed the app button until the multi-task menu showed
4. Held the New Yorker icon until it shaked and clicked the “-” sign.
5. Navigated to the New Yorker app and launched.
6. Waited for the app to load fully
7. Logged back in.

It worked!

My New Yorker subscription is working.

So that must of fixed it or they updated the database for me. Whatever, it works. Hope it works for you, if not, contact support through the iPad app and then correspond to them by e-mail after they reply.

18 thoughts on “Why Conde Nast hates me

    1. Not yet. The quickest way to get a response though is to request for feedback within the app itself. They will then contact you by e-mail with a support ticket.

    2. I have put how I resolved things in the updates. The only thing I’m not certain is if they did something on their end to the database or it was simply the App needs resetting.

  1. I got the iPad app to work, but then I screwed myself. I created an online account to read the Web Archive in a browser, and then I logged out of the iPad app to make sure my passwords matched up (for no good reason). Well, you can’t use the same password for a Web Archive login and an iPad login. And now I can’t make a new iPad login. It’s a clusterffffffffff. If I hadn’t already been billed a bulk sum, I’d cancel my subscription.

    1. Yeah, After a few days back and forth, I managed to get it working—I have the same login for both, but don’t create a new account, you have to “bind” the account even though sometimes it doesn’t work.

      Maybe the above tip (quitting the app and doing things from scratch) will work for you; maybe it will not and you need to get them to fix something they broke in the database. In any case, you should be up-and-running eventually. I had to catch up on two weeks worth of issues, which for me was a lot of late-night reading.

  2. I experienced the same issue. I also have a Ph.D. and a background in web usability and it took me over a month to resolve this.

  3. So here we are, 18 months after your original blog post, and I don’t understand why I can’t subscribe to a digital only version of the New Yorker. I live in Australia, and I am more than happy to pay $1.00-$1.50 per issue for the digital edition, but Conde Nast doesn’t offer one. I have to subscribe to the print edition, just to get access to the digital version. I have downloaded a couple of issues of the mag via my iPad app at $5.49 an issue, but I am refusing to buy more until a digital only subscription comes into effect.

    What is it with some companies? They still don’t get it. Potentially, tens of thousands of additional readers for company publications are being left frustrated by high prices, poor technology, and company boards that keep looking backwards to the past, instead of forwards to the future.

    It’s enough to drive a man to drink!

  4. It’s not only the New Yorker; Conde Nast Traveler also has the same problem:
    As a print subscriber you’re meant to be able to get access using your account number and country of address.
    The account number, when entered concatinates to just numbers without the preceeding zeros… then there’s a note which says use only the first ten digits (which happen to have 5 zeros)!! And all giving a “not recognised account”.
    Try sending them an email (even several) and they never have the decency to respond.
    Bunch of twirps!

  5. I solved it like this:

    • Open app
    • Ignore the giant buttons in the middle of the screen that suggest that you subscribe, etcc
    • On the upper left of the screen, under ‘iPad,’ click on the small button that says “Sign In”
    • Do so using the password created via the subscription email they sent me.

    I agree that this app has an awful subscription/sign-in procedure for those purchasing via the website.

      1. My attempts to log-in on an iPad, despite all kind advice, still draw a blank…
        And Conde Nasty still don’t reply.

  6. Fantastic column! Here it is years later and the New Yorker app still has this problem!

    It worked fine on our iPad Air, but is in an endless loop for registration on our iPad Mini.

    It insists that we enter our email address and password, yet there is NO place to do that in the magazine inside Newstand!

    Adding insult to injury, there’s a Continue button, which simply redisplays the same Confirm Account screen– which always leads to: account already confirmed.

    Like you, after a bit, I could enter the subscription # from memory. This is ridiculous!

    We’ve quit the app; deleted and reinstalled the app, and still no access.

  7. Found a solution in the latest version of the app!

    Bizarrely, it turns out that you have to go to your Library screen (even though you might not have even signed in yet), there, hidden in the upper left corner is a Sign In text. That will get you to a place where you can enter your Username and Password.

    Why, oh, why, wasn’t Sign In a button on every other screen in the app?! (In fact, the convoluted interface of All Access, Subscribe, etc. needs overhauling.)

    In any event, hope that helps anyone else searching for this. How silly of them–and how bad a set up by the app developer!

  8. Omg I am not alone – I live in Australia and much of the above has also been my experience – All I really want is to pay for the digital version of The New Yorker – I subscribe to The Guardian (UK) and the FT – NO TROUBLE – Am currently giving up but slightly cheered to know I am not alone . Thanks.

  9. Ah! They’re still terrible. I purchased their latest digital-only subscription. After receiving confirmation, I went to active my account but guess what, the confirmation page NEVER went beyond “WAIT A MOMENT” until the session ran out. I tried linking my subscription manually but their site doesn’t seem to recognize digital-only subscriber & to make things worse, linking via name and address isn’t possible since they are only accepting US & Canada based addresses (I’m from Pakistan). It’s so frustrating because 1) I don’t have a login for an account I PAID for 2) their customer service is as irresponsive as a stone. If any of you faced the same issue and found a way out, help a mate out.

    1. I haven’t got my account number after a month of payment, and called the customer service they said they didn’t have my record. I sent an email to show my credit card statement and they don’t reply. Tweeting to their support portal and their staff doesn’t help.

      Now refund is impossible except trying to chargeback through my bank to see.

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