Subscription fees for unwanted services

Yay, Another article that won’t give me any information unless I pay a subscription fee for a service I’ll rarely use. Looks like I’ll be left in the dark, OR I can search google and find something similar for free. Sorry Choice. I’m not in for this one.


I read it and generally think it is just above pap targetting a non-technical readership, and that might be appropriate for Choice so it is not necessarily a criticism. A lot of reviews by PC journals are not much better, with some focusing on the “techno junkie” at the expense of even the “literate”.

My XXXX comes out as middling but I love it, and a mate retired his Canon after seeing mine bought one too. For one thing it can print A3, a niche requirement, but no mention of that. It also does duplex and has a one-sided auto document feeder for scan / copy. And so it goes. I added my “review” to the report but I learned it can take a few days for a review to be published after following up as to what happened to it.

The difference in a point scored here and there might sway some buyers where in reality those points are hard to differentiate in a practical sense and the lack of including all the features can be a disservice.


Many thanks for the feedback @NubglummerySnr and the @PhilT. I’ve moved this from the printer ink thread as I was hoping to expand on the discussion, but you can feel free to disregard if you wish.

I’d like to explore what can CHOICE can do to improve our perceived value. Even if a subscription is deemed unworthy for an individual at a particular time, I’d like to address some of the concerns raised here to find out if it’s a matter of perception, or if there’s something we can do to change things for the better. Much of the work at CHOICE has been improved and refined over the years thanks to the honest criticism we receive from our supporters, so we mean it when I say thanks for speaking up :slight_smile:

CHOICE is largely funded by members via our subscription costs. So, while a particular product test may not be perceived as valuable, the reality is subscriptions fund all of our activity from our campaigning right through to this forum. We have enormous admiration for all our subscribers because, from the inside of the organisation, we can see that their support often results in better conditions for all Australian consumers in many different areas, including exposing dodgy business behaviour through the media to meeting with politicians to improve regulation. We are grateful for the opportunity, and we come in each day with that in mind to fight as hard as we can to deliver unbiased information and fairer conditions for consumers.

The challenge is it’s often hard for us to connect those dots, as an outcome may take years. There is not always a direct correlation between a subscription for a product review and a big consumer win, but the subscription most certainly impacts our work in a very important way. So, the first question I have is, how can we improve this perception and better encourage support for this broad-level work? Is it a case of better communication, better options to fundraise? This is an action we’re looking to implement via this forum too.

With that said, we don’t expect consumers to subscribe to our content simply to support our altruistic goals. We intend those product tests to provide information that will save consumers both time and real dollars. In the case of the printer test (and other articles), it’s true that we prepare our message for a non-technical audience. We want to make it easy for people to be able to point out and identify ‘that’s the best one’, without needing to understand the technical analysis behind the recommendation.

However, also with the printer article, we’ve tested 119 printers in a side-by-side comparison. We published 56 touch points across the models tested, but there are also more considerations that we condense into good points and bad points. For example, whether a model can print A3 is included in this section, as is duplex and so on. The concern here is that the scale and depth of analysis has clearly been misunderstood if it is being considered alongside the majority of free reviews online, even before we consider any advertiser relationships. Of course, there are also crowd-sourced reviews, and these certainly have value, but in product testing terms they do not necessarily meet the same standard that we aim to achieve.

I’m therefore wondering whether the more in-depth comparison tables are well-known or understood? Perhaps this is something we can look at in terms of our site design, or maybe we can highlight this more clearly in the text?

These points are intended to be explanatory and not to rebuff the very valid concerns raised. Perhaps I’ve also missed the point of frustration too, so all comments are welcome. As mentioned, we really appreciate the feedback and if there are ideas on ways CHOICE can improve in value terms, we’d love to hear it!

I’m happy to pay a subscription for something I’ll be using often. But for Choice articles, I simply don’t go there enough to justify the payments. Most of the articles aren’t relevant to me and the occasional one or two online ones that take my fancy that require a subscription to view the results aren’t enough of an incentive to make it worth my while paying for monthly or yearly fees. I’d rather visit sites that use advertising to pay the bills if it’s a one off thing, but I do have yearly subscriptions for sites that I frequent often and I’m happy to pay for those ones.

1 Like

Thanks for your honesty @NubglummerySnr, and for taking the time to provide the feedback :wink: We will review the comments if possible take steps to improve.

I am familiar with the in-depth tables but it is not always obvious they are inside the compare feature, so easily go out of mind. One can re-discover this many times :frowning:

One of many varied expectations is that if one clicks on the product it will take you to a detailed view for that product from wherever, but that is not how it works. It builds a comparison table from topical information.

Many readers look at the rating, the headline bits, and move on. Further, it remains a research project for a reader to find the printer with the features that are important, and then identify the better printer that offers the features. The comparison is a collation of the tech features for each made a comparison list that is not obviously connected to a product evaluation. The myriad features across the products would be difficult to quantify in a rational score, but what one might think of as advantage (ie duplex or A3 printing), another might think of as a feature and requirement. I trust the point is made that the presentation against the printers could seem inconsistent to some of us and fine to others, whether or not the best way is agreed.

Perhaps a budget straining exercise, but consider a better online experience would be if Choice implemented a list of product features (including “advantages” like A3, duplex, etc) as a set of tick boxes. The reader could tick the boxes s/he needs and show the products (printers), their full specs, and their evaluated results.


Thanks @PhilT, that’s really helpful and I know what you mean. I’ll be sure to offer the feedback to our UX developers :slight_smile:

1 Like

And perhaps the ability to compare just a few of the products rather than the compare all. I sometimes wish to compare just a few select products (and have all the info provided for each item) rather than go through a huge database of products.

I am not a subscriber but some of the free to public test results have interested me and I would have been happy to donate a few dollars to read them (as a choice to donate not a requirement) but there is no option for that.

In the case of the printer tests I would again have been happy to contribute a small amount just to view the data without the cost of subscribing to Choice, in this case a mandatory contribution would be required but the amount required could be set to a range rather than a single figure to allow for differing budgets of users or they still could choose to subscribe. Have a look at the Humble Bundle example of this pay what you want that has a minimum spend but no upper limit (of course in this example the more you pay the more you get).

I think by inviting a donation type process you might capture more income than by having a single large (this is in relation to the donation cost) subscribe cost. This I think would suit the more casual user of the data and suit many strained budgets.


In regards to your post @BrendanMays . A model I would look at that is both fair and would also help with your campaigns , testing of products etc . is to introduce a reduced membership fee that would give full access to the online articles , well say , 5 full accesses a year ./

That amount of full access should be adequate for majority of consumers who show an interest in Choice and it’s activities . Around $20-25 would a good figure to look at per annum . Maybe cheaper if it was workable . Myself I’m a full subscription member , magazine and online , and I write the subscription prices off back to tax because I class the mags and online as R and D for the Company . I have a registered Company name with ACN number and also an ABN number . Not everybody has this though . /

I think you could compare the above to the AFL club I follow . I don’t travel well so I only purchase a reduced membership for home games in Melbourne . Cost around $70 . A full membership would be around $390+ . That would be access to all games on the Football fixture Australia wide … Something I don’t need so why pay for it ./

I wrote this rather hurriedly but I hope it conveys the idea I was trying get across of a much cheaper membership with a set amount of accesses to tests etc . As far as marketing it would be a strategy I would certainly look at .


I’ll not comment further excepting that […]! (it is about what can be done “using” the tax codes, not directed at yourself for taking advantage)

1 Like

I’ve supported Choice for decades. Now I’m an Aged pensioner, I still think its worth supporting!
Good luck with getting concise independent information via Google!


As previously stated I’m happy to pay for a subscription to something if I’m going to be actually using the subscription. If I go into a newsagents and see something that I want to read I’ll pay for the thing. If, however, I am required to pay for a subscription before I can make my purchase then I have to decide if the price of the subscription is worth it for me. Will I actually be going back and reading each issue as it comes out? In the case of Choice independent reviews, the subscription is to unlock the results on the website. Do I attempt to access these unlockable features regularly? No. Probably twice in the past 6 months. So I really don’t need a subscription. Perhaps Choice could offer a “view these results” price next to the subscription price so I don’t need to subscribe for something that I’ll rarely use. As for independent information, I was attempting to look at printer specs and results, which I can quite easily do via quite a lot of independent computer sites which do offer concise and independent information. Some even do comparison tests. They also have advertising on their web pages which means I don’t need to pay a subscription to view their reviews. So I actually do value an independent review. I just don’t value being forced to pay for a subscription service to look at the results of the things, when I’m very unlikely to use that service ever again within the time frame that the subscription gives me access, before I’m charged for a new subscription, which I’ll also probably hardly use, if at all.


Interesting comments. I support Choice doing what it does and it doesn’t worry me it does some things which are not relevant to me. I want Choice to be able to continue its work without being driven by the interests of particular donors and am happy to pay a subscription which covers some, or even many, things of little interest to me. We have the opportunity to feed into Choice on our priorities and that keeps me perfectly happy.


Ditto from me also.
Many things not relevant to me but I pay full subscription in order to help Choice remain independent.


Thanks for the comments everyone, we appreciate the feedback. We want to provide as much value as possible for our members, so it’s important to us to hear what matters to you.


I am a Choice and Computer Choice magazine subscriber and have been for almost 30 years for the former. I have not joined the online subscription as I generally don’t need it but occasionally it would be great to easily look at an old review or issue online rather than wading through my back copies. So may I request that magazine subscribers be able to access online content without paying extra? I’ve often thought of bringing this issue up - so thanks to the person who has.


Janette - I’m with your thoughts on this issue, having been a Choice subscriber for over 40 years and a Choice Computer subscriber for as long as it has been going.
If I am understanding how it all works correctly, and I stand to be corrected, Choice spends internal resources on writing articles and doing tests that non-members can access for a fee, that regular subscribers will have to pay extra to access this information.
My concern and question to Choice is, “Are Choice subscribers subsidising these non-member people, so that they can access information at a reasonable price, in the hope they may eventually be lured into becoming paying subscribers?”
I would like to think that long-term regular subscribers aren’t subsidising other non-members.
Like you Janette, I think that all material that Choice produces should be available to all subscribers as part of our subscription and that we shouldn’t have to pay extra to access it.
I understand and appreciate that all articles in both Choice and Computer Choice may not interest everyone, and I don’t think anything adverse about Choice when I don’t to read them, because they don’t interest me, and/or I’m not affected by them.
I think that Choice are doing an excellent job with their magazines and finding a nice balance of material.
The lobbying that Choice do to State and Federal Governments, and other organisations on our behalf, is very much valued and appreciated by me, and I cant put a price on its worth.
I will continue to be a long-time and loyal Choice subscriber.


Totally agree - well said.

1 Like

We too have been Choice subscribers and we know that the information, gleaned from this objective source, is invaluable. We wholeheartedly agree with all the comments, including Janette’s. Thank you Choice and also for Choice Voice, which I am a member of as well.


Brendan: thank you for your always very balanced and even-handed responses in these forum pages, to everyone. You should be treasured by your organisation.

And thank you as a non-subscribing general consumer to all of you who do pay an annual subscription to Choice. I agree with the sentiments expressed earlier about the valuable work which Choice continues to do to assist consumers in so many way.

When I was very young, I was taught to read every book cover-to-cover.
In those days I could access the print copy of Choice – cannot now recall how: perhaps at a library, or maybe I even subscribed until I could no longer afford it. Not sure. Anyway, I would read every edition right through, regardless of the fact that I could never afford to purchase ANY of the products reviewed. It was very educational.

My wife’s later professional life was as a reference librarian in a public library; and for EVERY family appliance purchase, she went to the library’s hard-copy of Choice (they probably didn’t have it in digital format in those days), and every purchase was made based on her evaluation of the Choice reviews.

Having ALWAYS had to scratch for every penny, I was never in a situation of having any spare money available for any discretionary spending; so subscribing was never an option for me.

And these days I buy nothing anyway, so I don’t resort to Choice – but my wife still does.

After all of that background, Brendan, here is my twopence-worth.

  1. I have many friends and neighbours, aged in their 70s and 80s, who have long subscribed to your hard-copy, and happily still do. (I wonder if you have any stats on the age demographics of your subscriber base which might elucidate that aspect).

  2. However, I cannot recall ever having spoken to anyone of my kids’ generation who was or is subscribed to Choice. Perhaps they are, but it just doesn’t come up in conversation.

  3. My feeling is that modern young people are firstly very used to obtaining so much of their information from online sources, instead of from hard copy items; and furthermore, they are used to obtaining most of that information online free of charge.

  4. If I am correct in my assumptions, then it would seem that you need ways to engage with young people to visit your online pages, and to pay a small amount to access quality information. I don’t really have any thoughts on how to do that, but younger people might have.

  5. Just throwing around a couple of disparate thoughts though: I recently cleaned out an old house-purchase file, and in it I discovered LOTS of postcards and A4 pages POSTED to us by snail-mail – by REMOVALISTS, when our former home was listed for sale. So by extension, perhaps Choice could try something similar based on many different consumer actions, but this time around, to send them electronically to an email address. I am thinking of your tapping into white-goods retailers’ mailing lists – by paying them for the right for them to send your emails to their customers. Similarly, receiving monthly newsletters online as a Senior, they ask if you are happy to receive advertising from others. I am guessing that there will be hundreds or thousands of different online services which you might be able to tap into.

I wish you well in your endeavours.