DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work for a publication covering a specific field. Although some other publications in our field are free for subscribers (supported only by advertising), we charge for subscriptions. We honestly think our content is a cut above, and that seems to be borne out by the many people willing to pay for our subscription.
However, we often hear from people calling to subscribe or renew their subscriptions who act disgruntled that they have to pay. “XYZ Magazine doesn’t charge for subscriptions,” they’ll grumble. Or: “I’ve never had to pay for one of these magazines before.”
Sometimes they’ll even mix up their publications and say, accusingly: “I thought this was FREE!” A few really brazen ones will claim they’re some sort of special case and we should waive the fee for them.
Privately, I’m very put out that they don’t think they should have to pay for our content. Some very smart people work quite hard on it. Since most of these callers ultimately pay, they obviously think our content is valuable.
I want to point out that they would never think of walking into a store and demanding to walk out with a product without paying. But since they’re customers and I have to be polite, I’m always reduced to saying something like, “Well, yes, it is a paid subscription.” Or: “Yes, as far as I know it’s always been a paid subscription.” Or, “No, actually there’s just one price for everyone.” Or: “Yes, I’ve heard XYZ is free, but there’s a charge for ours.”
Is there something appropriate I could say that underscores that our product is worth something and their sense of entitlement is out of line?
GENTLE READER: Just that. “We think our product is worth it. But of course if you feel otherwise, that is your choice.” Miss Manners recommends that you resist adding the ubiquitous, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” -- as these same customers will likely think of plenty.