Social media serves up an endless flow of stories targeted to our interests and this is causing many people to encounter ‘paywall’ pages when we exceed the number of free stories per month from various news sources. The initial subscription offers are enticing and require just a few clicks to get started.

The New York Times digital access, for example, is $4 per month and then goes up 300% to $16 per month after a one-year introductory offer.

The Los Angeles Times Digital Access has an introductory rate of $3.96 per month – for one month only. Then the rate doubles.

While it’s easy to subscribe to these offers, it can be very difficult to unsubscribe. The Los Angeles Times is an example of a very poor customer experience when it comes to the subscription process.

Federal Trade Commission Advisory

As you’ll see below, the Los Angeles Times subscription cancellation process seems to be intentionally confusing and difficult. Such practices have been the focus of numerous class action lawsuits and fit this description provided by the Federal Trade Commission: “Some dishonest businesses make it tough to cancel…” [Source: Federal Trade Commission]

Note: When the Los Angeles Times provides an easy online subscription cancellation option, we will plan to update this page.

How to Unsubscribe from the Los Angeles Times

As you’ll see below, there’s an intentionally confusing maze that people will go through in attempting to unsubscribe. To save some time, skip ahead to Step #6 below.

  1. If you’re trying to unsubscribe from the Los Angeles Times Digital Access, you will likely go to the LA Times websites at LATimes.com. You won’t find a link for cancelling your subscription on the main page of the website.
  2. You might access your Profile page to find some information about how to cancel. You won’t find it there.
  3. Next, you might try looking on the LA Times Contact Page. Under the Customer Service hading you’ll see a link to edit your account, www.myaccount2.latimes.com – but that page does not have any option to cancel. If you use the ‘find’ feature in your browser to search for the word ‘cancel’ on the page, you won’t find it.
  4. There’s a difficult to find page from August 2014 called Subscription management that isn’t linked from the main hep pages. Buried on that page is a Q&A addressing cancellation with a suggestion to call the LA Times customer service number at 800-88-TIMES.
  5. When you call 800-88-TIMES, you might get an after hours recording. You can only request the hours of operation for the following day. For example, if you call after hours on a Saturday, you’ll get the hours for Sunday which are 7am-12pm PT. In other words, customer service is not available 24/7. Also, the recorded after hours menu indicates that you can take care of everything you need by using the My Account page – which actually isn’t true.
  6. When you’re able to call 800-88-TIMES during normal hours of operations, you’ll get an automated menu. You’ll need to press 6 and then 3 (unless their options change). The goal is to get to a customer service person who can help with cancelling the subscription.
  7. When you finally get through to a person at a call center, they will be reading from a script trying very hard to keep you from cancelling your subscription by offering you a better offer on the subscription rate. When you decline that offer. They will give you others for different kinds of lower cost subscriptions and newsletters. Only when you persist will they allow you to cancel your subscription.

There Is a Better Way

There are numerous other subscription systems that can be easily turned on and off from within the account settings such as Hulu or Netflix. Why can’t the Los Angeles Times provide similar convenience.