There are a number of news and opinion sites that put a paywall between the reader and “premium content.” It’s their perfect right, of course; how could one who sells his fiction claim otherwise? Among those sites are several I’d like to patronize, both because I deem the site worthy of reader support and because I want access to the hidden content. But I’m reluctant to provide my credit card details to organizations that will “resubscribe” me automatically after a certain interval. I can’t be sure I’ll notice in time to make an active decision whether to continue with them, and besides, what with all the credit card fraud going on today, I’d rather not incur any greater vulnerability than I have from shopping at Amazon.
The following is as close as I can get to a word-for-word transcription of the conversation I just had with one site’s “customer service representative:”
CSR: How can I help you?
FWP: I need a mailing address to which to send a check.
CSR: Why do you need to send us a check?
FWP: To pay for a one-year subscription to your site.
CSR: Why not pay by credit card?
FWP: I’d rather not.
CSR: The transaction is perfectly secure.
FWP: I’m sure it is.
CSR: We also accept PayPal.
FWP: I don’t do business with PayPal. I dislike their assertion of the power to fine me if I say or write something they disapprove.
[Here I think the CSR paused to confer with a supervisor.]
CSR: We have no mechanism for subscribing by check.
FWP: No bank account?
CSR: That’s not what I meant.
FWP: Well, if you won’t take a check, I shan’t subscribe. But thank you for your time.
I have no idea whether the CSR replied to my last statement, as I closed the chat window on his fingers.
Perhaps I’m being unduly cautious, but an old man living on his savings is well advised to be cautious. Any thoughts, Gentle Reader?