I know I've groused about Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country price gouging on Chowhound before, but today, the company took it to a whole new level. I hope anyone who's a subscriber to their web sites takes note.
It's bad enough, as many people have mentioned here and other places online, that the company essentially makes you pay for access to their content on any and every single platform: print subscription, web subscription, iPad subscriptions are all separate - and not inexpensive - fees. The $29.95 annual price for cooksillustrated.com access - which you need to make use of their "free" iPhone app - doesn't even get you access to the full site's contents. For that, you pay an additional fee of $14.95 for the "Editors' Choice" Membership, which includes a select number of recipes for their published books (many of which I've purchased as well).
Together with the separate subscriptions for both pubs on iPad, I have a total of EIGHT subscriptions and associated fees for TWO publications.
For the most part, I've swallowed the fees and told myself that, given the number of good meals I've enjoyed from their work, it's worth it. Maybe not a bargain, given all the other sources of really very good recipes online, but manageable.
Today I received a notice from the company, however, letting me know my annual membership to cookscountry.com would expire this month, and it would be renewed at "the current regular membership price of $34.95."
Nowhere do they mention that this is a price increase of 175% year over year. That's right - last year, the annual membership to cookscountry.com was $19.95. Now, it's $34.95.
Worse yet, I went online to cancel my membership so they would not automatically charge my card on file this newly exorbitant price. Despite being paid up on my last annual membership through April 5, the site cancelled my access immediately. Talk about a huge middle finger to anyone who's had it with their price gouging. It took 15 minutes on the phone with a customer service representative to reinstate my online subscription for the remaining time I'd already paid for.
Although I love the content put forth by this company, their shading marketing practices and ham-fisted pricing strategies leave such a bad taste in my mouth, it's hard to remember how good their recipes are. I'm now thinking about cancelling all my subscriptions to the various and sundry products I've already paid for and just cooking from my enormous backlog of issues (or picking up the occasional "Best of" collection, which they seem to issue every other month).
I'm sure I'm in for another similarly insane price increase for online access to cooksillustrated.com when my annual membership for that expires soon. I'll have to let that one go as well.
Or, like their rip-off online cooking school, maybe enough subscribers will cry foul that they'll come to their senses and readjust their pricing. We'll see.