Personal Finance

Negotiating a 50% Discount On My Maclean’s Magazine Subscription

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**The events covered below occurred about two months before Maclean’s declared it would go to a once-a-month print issue. Obviously, that changes the game, and I will be expecting a discounted rate going forward now that their costs have come down so drastically!**

When it comes to long-form Canadian journalism, Maclean’s Magazine is the top dog. I certainly don’t love every article (in fact I find many of them sad attempts to get cheap attention with sensationalistic headlines that confuse already-complex issues) but overall they give a pretty good look at what is important across our country.

In an age of competing with “You won’t believe who Taylor Swift slept with last night!” I’m willing to forgive some of the headline zaniness in the name of solid professional research and interviewing.

What I can’t forgive, is asking me to pay more than I have to!

I should point out before I get to the good stuff, that I know I could get Maclean’s and many other magazines for a super cheap deal with some of the different Roger’s online packages. I don’t know why, but somehow I developed reading consumption habits from a bygone era – I like to hold the words in my hands. I know it’s illogical and that online magazine subscriptions are much easier to take with you, easier to keep organized, etc.

The heart wants what the heart wants when it comes to physical connections to the printed word I guess!

The Special Subscriber Rate

Maclean’s and I have had an on-again-off-again relationship over the years. (“We were on a break”… when I read Time – shout out to fellow 90s kids that get Friends references)

My subscription would run out, someone would get it for me as a gift, I’d let it lapse for a few months, then purchase another subscription as part of a fundraiser, and so on it would go. This time around I figured why not actually heed their 13 warnings that “this is really the absolutely last issue before the world ends and your subscription runs out” and re-subscribe before I experienced a gap in service.

However, when I opened my “special rate” offer of $91.08 for 92 issues I knew that my frugal street cred was being challenged. Clearly, they knew I had a reputation for saving money on random stuff that needed to be defended. So I set to work. Here is the blow-by-blow account of how I saved nearly 50% off of the special offer price, and roughly 85% off of the newsstand retail value.

Step by Step Guide to a Maclean’s Magazine Discount

  1. I looked up what people online were able to negotiate down to in order to see what kind of leverage I had. I recommend checking out forums for this kind of thing. If you’re not familiar with the hangout, it’s a great place to see how similarly frugal-minded people are saving money on the product or service you are thinking about purchasing. I also quickly scanned a few other places to see what the going price was.
  2. I called Maclean’s and strapped myself in for the usual negotiation rigmarole. Just a quick note, the (416) 596-5523 number didn’t work, but the toll free number: 1-888-622-5326 worked just fine.
  3. The first person I talked to did not sound at all shocked that I had called in, and said that I was, “In luck as there was a special promotion on today at $72 for 52 issues”. Little did they realize they weren’t dealing with some daisy-fresh rookie here.
  4. I politely replied with my usual, “Geez, I really love Maclean’s, but the wife and I are tightening up the budget right now and if that’s as low as you can go we’ll have to cancel our subscription today.” Suddenly it was recommended I talk to a loyalty representative – who would have guessed?
  5. I must admit that the transfer went quickly and smoothly. Some major politeness props for the Maclean’s team are in order. Upon getting on the line with the loyalty representative I reasserted that I had been a longtime reader of Maclean’s and would really love to continue receiving my weekly dose of Canadian journalism; however, I was really having to cut back these days.
  6. “No problem sir, I’m sure we can work something out today,” I said that I had recently viewed some great deals for first-time customers of the magazine and that it would be great if loyal subscribers could get something like that. She said that while she couldn’t quite match those rates, she could give me a “special one-time offer of $64 for 52 issues”.
  7. I sensed there was still a bit of room until I hit bottom, so I responded with, “That’s a little bit closer to where I could probably justify it, you know if I could get it under a dollar an issue I’ll hand over my credit card number right now and we can wrap this up.” I like using a line like that when I sense I’m closing in on the end of the line. The psychological allure of getting me off the phone and finalizing the sale of a year’s subscription is usually pretty effective.
  8. My friend the loyalty rep says she doesn’t think she can go any lower. Of course I hum and haw, what are we to do? I guess we’ll have to proceed with cancelling then… (I think I might be kind of a sick person to actually enjoy this little dance.) At this point it suddenly became imperative that a big boss with an impressive title be talked to, so I would be put on hold for a while. No problem, I had my phone-tree negotiation reading material to attend to (this whole thing had been going way too smoothly anyway – usually there were way more obstacles than this).
  9. Lo and behold, just for little old me, Maclean’s Magazine was holding a special one-time only event. I shouldn’t tell anyone, but we could do just this one year at $49.95 for 52 issues (roughly 45% discount). To be honest, I think there is a decent chance I could have went one more round, but that price was pretty competitive with what I had found online, so I handed over my credit card number.

To Sum Up

The entire process including research took less than a half hour. I saved over $40 off of just defaulting to the original renewal rate I had received. My time is valuable, but $80 per hour ain’t bad. If you are into comparing apples to apples, saving $40 is akin to earning about $70 before taxes take their share (at my marginal tax rate anyway). For $140 pre-tax dollars per hour you can bet I’ll be calling the pleasant folks at Maclean’s next year for my “special, super-secret, one-time only offer”.


Kyle is a high school humanities teacher by day, and freelance personal finance author by night. He has been published in academic journals, and has also co-authored the book "More Money for Beer and Textbooks". In his free time Kyle likes to limp up and down a basketball court and pretend to be a tough guy in a boxing ring.

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