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“Never-Ending Pledge-Week”

After years and years on this distribution, Jeff in Virginia unsubscribed last week, complaining there were “too many ads for the premium edition — it like [sic] a never-ending pledge-week on PBS.”

Yep: each week I ask for the readers who really like the stories and want to see more to upgrade. Indeed, PBS (TV’s Public Broadcasting Service), NPR (National Public Radio), and I all know that no matter how good the service is, practically no one will support it unless you ask. I’ve checked that: early on I experimented with not asking, and no one (or nearly no one) upgraded those weeks. Surely Jeff wants to be paid every week at his job, eh?

I’ve noted before that 85 percent of True‘s budget comes from the tiny percentage of readers who pay for an upgrade, which brings them well more than double the stories of the free edition. If I stop asking, people stop upgrading, and True fails — and then no one gets it at all. Just like PBS, NPR, and a lot of other independent outlets you like, such as This is True. We all have to ask, and do it constantly, or else we die. Pretty simple.

Colorado Public Radio indeed had its pledge drive this past week. They noted that they have 400,000 regular listeners. The pledge drive was a “fantastic success” because 9,100 people became members — a little more than 2 percent of their regular listeners. That is pretty awesome: when I put out the “No really: TRUE needs your support RIGHT NOW to keep going” ask last month, I got just over 100 people, or 0.22 percent of my subscriber base, to upgrade. (And it made a big difference!)

May or may not be an actual photo of Jeff.

But Jeff is still saying my brief weekly “ask” — which no one is forced to read! — is just toooooo much for him to have to see. Sheesh.

Now, every time I discuss this aspect of True, which in the 956(!!!) issues that came before this week’s has been very infrequently, I emphasize that I do know not everyone can afford the price, even though it’s only $24 per year, and I welcome them to stay on the free distribution as long as they’d like. Yet Jeff is still bothered. He’s not bothered enough to simply skip over that “What you missed in the full edition” paragraph, but he wants to whine about the very thing that allowed him to subscribe for year after year after year for free. To which I just roll my eyes.

Yeah, I get tired of writing that paragraph every week, but I know that’s what keeps True alive — simple as that. Can’t stand that paragraph? Can’t stand missing more than half the stories? Then upgrade! Because obviously, that paragraph’s not in the Premium edition! Can’t afford an upgrade? Sorry you’re in that boat, and I hope things improve for you soon because this economy does truly suck, but just skip that paragraph if you can’t stand reading it. You’re not required to read that any more than you’re required to read the Honorary Unsubscribe each week (though if you skip that, you’re really missing out on great stuff!)

But whine about something that literally enables you to get this for free? That’s not smart; that, simply, is obliviocy.

[Note: After nine years at $24, in 2013 we couldn’t take the hit of inflation anymore, and raised the price. As of this update it’s now $32 a year — still well under a buck a week.]

- - -

This page is an example of This is True’s style of “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. “True” is a newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition, and bring up questions about society — in an entertaining way. If you enjoyed this page, consider scrolling up to the top of the page for a free e-mail subscription.

To really support True, sign up for a paid subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:

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(More upgrade options here.)

Q: Why would I want to pay more than the regular rate?

A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online, and this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.

74 Responses to “Never-Ending Pledge-Week”

  1. Pat - Whitby, Canada October 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Upgrading was one of the best things I ever did! I look forward to my Premium edition. I didn’t upgrade because I was tired of reading the ‘plead’ but because I thought the ‘read’ was well worth the $24 and actually worth more! Keep up the terrific work Randy et al!

  2. Claudia ~ Newbury Park October 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    There is no free lunch, so the plug to upgrade is the unfree part of the free publication. People – sheesh.

  3. Pearl in North Carolina October 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    As we are apt to say in the South: Jeff in Virginia “needs to get a grip!!”

  4. Lance - Australia October 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Some people are never truly happy until they have something to be unhappy about.
    Keep up the good work Randy, and know that your efforts are actually appreciated (at least by some).

    I’d say by most! -rc

  5. Dave, Illinois October 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    I subscribe to both editions and, so, skip the upgrade paragraph every week. Never thought it was that big a deal. Some people!

  6. Nicolai in Canada October 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    I may not be the best sample, since I’ve upgraded, but I’m continuously surprised at how much you give away for free. Not only the free edition stories (which is of course necessary, otherwise we wouldn’t get hooked in the first place :-), but the whole archive and True-a-Day. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but many other orgs would make thing like the archive a premium service.

    Keep up the good work and ignore those that whine about that you need to make a living….

  7. Denise, Missouri October 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Well I suppose that regular ads would be better, from his viewpoint. He might have to put up with a dozen ads for garbage, but at least he wouldn’t have to put up with one from you, right?

    The free edition does have two very brief (max 7 lines) outside ads, but they don’t pay enough to even cover the costs of the free edition. -rc

  8. CB, McKinney, TX October 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    To the panty-waste whiners that think they can’t/shouldn’t afford a subscription to Premium This Is True: If you would give up 4 trips to Starbucks in a year, or give up 4 packs of cigarettes in a year, or give up 2 boxes of wine in a year, give up 2 pizzas in a year, or give up one trip to the movies a year, you could afford the Premium subscription. AND, you’d be more entertained, informed, and quite possibly impress someone with you new-found knowledge. This rant was not solicited nor endorsed by This Is True nor Randy or Kit Cassingham. 🙂

    And note with that list, the items were separated by OR, not and! -rc

  9. Anthony, Australia October 19, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I constantly hear the same complaints from people who download free apps and then have a whine about ads and constantly being prompted to buy the full version. Do the really believe that people spend hundreds of hours developing the app just to be generous?
    Both what Mr Cassingham and the app developers are doing are essentially modern version of handing out free samples in the supermarket aisle to all, so that a few might go on to buy the product, (in my humble opinion, the moderator may disagree).

    No, that’s a valid analogy. I try free apps, and the ones that I find truly useful, I get the paid version — even if there are no ads in the free one, or any more utility in the paid one. Because if it pays, then they’ll continue to improve the app, or do the work to make it compatible with my next phone. -rc

  10. Chris Marion NC October 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    I had an uncle who used to say “Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope.” I never figured out what that meant, until now. I’m pretty sure that applies to Jeff. Good riddance. Thanks to all the people who support Randy and this newsletter. I hope to be premium one day but I refuse to bite the hand that feeds me.

    You’re welcome on the free list as long as you’d like, Chris. If you can fit it into your budget later, great. -rc

  11. Stephanie, Somerville, MA October 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    You know your discourse on asking for money was 565 words. the content was 653 words. Last week’s content was 572; the exhortation on how awesome the Premium was reached 443.

    And that’s pretty typical, and it’s *not* what I remember from the first time I subscribed to Premium (which I cannot currently afford) about 5 years ago — I remember a newsletter that gave me some great, funny stories, with a pithy hit at the end promising me even more.

    Seriously, sample one or two from every year, and compare the growth. The current free newsletter is averaging about half “Buy! Buy!”. If you’re comfortable with that, that’s totally fine — it’s your email list.

    But Jeff, who you have decided to describe as whining, is on the money about the noticeable changes to the newsletter, and why he subscribed. He tried to give you a *clue*. Reject it if you want, but don’t describe those of us who have noticed the newsletter is now fully HALF ‘upgrade!’ that badly. It is not charming.

    You have a very short memory. I don’t mean from a year ago, I mean from a month ago. Looking back a week, when there was still discussion about my once-in-a-blue-moon “ask,” is beyond silly. The 18 September issue’s paragraph wasn’t 752 words, it was 752 characters — just over 100 words, including the URL. That’s the typical, year in and year out. That’s “the paragraph” being discussed. Since your current subscription is more than three years old, you know this, and your selective memory is “not charming.” You think I’m out of touch with my readers? Check out every single comment before yours and think again. If you’re honest, you’ll know who doesn’t have a solid grip here: is it me, or you?

    As it notes above, I’d much rather not work to “sell” readers on the upgrade. I’ve tried not doing it, and the results make it clear why most independent sites fail. That one typical paragraph isn’t truly enough, so when the numbers get bad, I push a bit harder — and readers respond. The lesson is that I “should” push harder EVERY week, but I refuse to. And despite that courtesy, some whine about it — like Jeff, and like you, who forgets that 95 percent of the time, it’s one (yes one!) short paragraph. Perhaps if you put as much effort into supporting the sites you like as you put into counting words (and did you count the Honorary Unsubscribe, which is in fact original content?), your online world would be a much better place! -rc

    Update: Stephanie’s response to my reply, above: she unsubscribed, saying “I genuinely don’t mind being disagreed with, told that I am provably wrong, etc.” but “your response to me in the blog was enough.” Ironically, my response is exactly what she says is OK: I proved to her why she was wrong, but she plugged her ears and fled. How sad. Stephanie’s email address boasts that she’s an actress. I hope she learns how to grow a skin. Hers needs to be a lot thicker! -rc

  12. Chris, California October 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Wonder if people like this complain about ads on their favorite (or any) television shows.

  13. Tristram, Maine October 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Why do people think they have a God given right to complain about what is basically a gift?

    Oh, I think they have a “right” to complain. But that doesn’t mean I have to accept the complaint! Looks like most of you don’t, either. -rc

  14. Tim, PA October 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    I will admit that I frequently grumble to myself about that paragraph (and I read it every week). It’s not seeing it every week that bothers me, it’s seeing what else I am MISSING each week since I allowed my premium sub to lapse. If it were in the budget, I would have already upgraded, but alas I will have to be content (or not) with reading hints to what I am missing out on each week. Eventually, I hope to be able to upgrade again (I kept the free version while I was also a premium subscriber). Then the paragraph won’t bother me at all, because I will have already read those stories! Thanks, Randy, for what you do to keep us entertained. Thanks, also, for what you (and your wife) do for the citizens in your area. I am sure you don’t hear either of those nearly often enough.

    I find the complaints more entertaining than the kudos, so I publish about the same number of each — you’d grow mighty tired of the kudos if I published them in representative numbers. So yes, I get more thanks than you might think, but no, I never tire of them. Much appreciated, Tim! -rc

  15. Denise, Missouri October 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    To CB, McKinney, TX: I have never been to Starbucks (and I don’t go to any coffee shops or restaurants). I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I have seen one movie in the past 10 years. The pizza? Well, I do have to eat and a treat a couple of times a year is reasonable. I cannot afford to upgrade my subscription yet.

    Like it or not there really are a lot of people out there who are struggling just to survive. Don’t judge us for our rare indulgences. Just because you can easily afford anything you want, that does not make it true for the rest of us. If we choose to have pizza instead of subscribe to This is True, then we have that right.

    As for me, I would never complain about a paragraph asking me to subscribe to the paid version of the newsletter. It’s free, for crying out loud! If I wanted no ads, then I would pay for the privilege.

    I know that 24 bucks can be a big deal to people, because I’ve been there myself: laid off from my job, and couldn’t find anything in my field for months, getting THAT close to losing my car when I was rehired (and the guy who laid me off was fired for doing it). Took me a long time to recover and get out of debt, and boy did it feel good when I finally did. Yeah, an “extra” $24 was hard to find, so I don’t judge those who say they can’t do it. Few who have been hit HARD by this economy are getting mocha lattes at Starbucks. They’re bringing lunch to work (if they’re lucky enough to have a job) in a paper bag. -rc

  16. Ana-Marie, Calif. October 19, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Randy, would you please post here how to donate an upgrade? In honor of Jeff leaving our True community, I want someone to benefit. As a premium subscriber, I feel my inbox is a happier, smarter, more sane place the moment it arrives. Ditto what @Tim said about the contribution you and Kit make to your community! It’s a fine thing you both do.

    To donate an upgrade, simply put in an order for an upgrade via Paypal or the shopping cart (links on the upgrade page), and in the special instructions note it’s a donation. (If you forget, or Paypal doesn’t allow the comment, just drop me an email.) If Ana-Marie does one, I’ll assign it to Tim in PA. If another comes in after that, I’ll assign it to Denise in Mo. -rc

  17. Jay, Penn. October 19, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    Wow. I guess he refuses to visit web pages with banner ads, and buys all the apps he uses so he doesn’t see any ads there, too. Granted, I’m a Premium subscriber, but when I first discovered True, I never minded the ad request to subscribe. Heck, without that ad, I’d probably never have known that a better version existed!

  18. Mark, Minnesota October 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    I like the idea of money. Here is something — the value of which we can agree, a dollar being a dollar after all — we can use to quantify those things we might exchange. Like a This Is True Premium subscription. Randy asks. Some of us respond because we agree on the value of the thing Randy provides. And Randy gives me what I expect for a price to which I agreed. As do PBS and NPR. Only a royal tool complains about being asked for something they can decline with no skin off their nose. I get it, Randy. Some people are ass-hats. We know that they are because they draw attention to themselves. Like Jeff. Who doesn’t understand money or value.

  19. Tony, Colorado October 19, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    I was on the free version for years before I upgraded to Premium. I might never have done that if Randy didn’t plug it every week. For some of us it takes a lot of prodding.

    And for others, simply repeating the message until they notice it was there all along! -rc

  20. Joe, New Jersey October 19, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    I think his gripe is what’s referred to as a “First-World Problem.”

    Bless his heart.

    LOL! For those who don’t know the phrase, First World Problems are frustrations and complaints that can only truly be expressed by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. It’s typically a tongue-in-cheek term to make light of someone’s trivial inconvenience. The first Urban Dictionary entry for the term was submitted on August 10th, 2005: “First World Problems: Problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.”

    There’s an entire web site populated with nothing but such whines. Naturally, it’s at http://first-world-problems.com — and what’s on top of that page as I post this is a real laugh: “I have to get dressed so that I don’t look too lazy when I go out to pay the gardener.” Awwwwww! Gets me right HERE! -rc

  21. Julie, Calif. October 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Wish I could go back to premium, but those ads help keep my free version coming. Thanks, Randy!

    Glad the free edition is there for you, Julie! And yep, those who are able to upgrade do make it possible for you to get it. I appreciate that you understand that. -rc

  22. Lynn, Utah October 19, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    Don’t know how you do it, Randy. Having to wade through crap like that? My hat is off to you.

    Eh, this is nothing! You should see the actually nasty ones! -rc

  23. gregory -- california October 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Most comments are right on the mark. We have a civic and ethical responsibility to support the work of folks like Randy and NPR if and when we can.

    I would also like to call out the particular compassion and humility that Randy demonstrates in his response to Denise, Missouri on October 19, 2012. I’m currently a premium subscriber too, but I remember not being able to afford it, and so does Randy. Let us not judge others, but express and stand up for the empathetic and humanitarian values that Randy demonstrates.

  24. Mike from Dallas October 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    Somewhere I stumbled across the free edition of This is True, and I enjoyed it. Never really paid much attention to the upgrade “ad”. I upgraded because I liked what I was getting for free, and wanted more. For some reason, I still get the free edition. Don’t know why, but I’m afraid of missing out on something. That “ad” still doesn’t bother me, and I don’t have to upgrade, as I already have. Sorry, but if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else will. People won’t do it until you suggest to them to do it. And even then, many don’t. Why miss out on those who will, just to avoid “offending” those who won’t? In any other business, it’s called “upselling,” and it’s VERY common.

    And if they don’t do it, the resource dies. No matter how entertaining, how useful, how needed.

    To clarify one thing: I don’t remove readers from the free distribution when they upgrade (as noted on the upgrade page), simply because many want both. They can come and go from the free distribution as they wish: that’s what the unsubscribe link on the bottom is for, and using it doesn’t affect their Premium subscription. -rc

  25. Heidi, Seattle October 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    I’ve been reading the Free edition for quite a while, and I guess I’ll just have to settle for the weekly exhortation — my fixed income doesn’t come near matching the real cost of living increases lately.

    But I’m fine with that. Being asked to upgrade is a small price to pay for the pleasure of the free edition every week, and if I somehow come into a little more money — I know where to spend it!

    Thanks for all you do, Randy!

  26. Adam in South Dakota October 19, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    Jeff in Virginia’s an idiot! At the moment I’m not in a place financially where I can upgrade, but believe you me when I get to that place it’s one of the first things I will do. In the meantime, there’s no way I’m missing the free edition just because you ask for money or upgrades. Like you say, I can just skip over that paragraph and thoroughly enjoy the rest. I for one appreciate what you do, and appreciate that you offer a free version. Thank you!

  27. James, Texas October 20, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    I actually like the weekly ask because it does tease at the extra stories and those teases really pique my curiosity. Those small hints make me wish I could find a steady job so I could upgrade. A premium subscription is on top of my list of things to get once I actually have steady income. Until then, Randy thank you for the free thought-provoking entertainment you deliver to my inbox every week.

  28. Rafael, Spain October 20, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    Boy, was you angry when answering Stephanie from Somerville! She just counted wrong, and has my same memory span… wait, no, I still recall when I was a free subscriber. Been there for years, if memory serves… Then one day, probably after reading your “Buy! Buy!” section (or not) I asked myself “well, why not? I have the money, I enjoy this, and the next best thing can be only better… or I’ll quit” A few years later, here we are, and I hope it lasts forever. Your news are mostly from out of Spain, but even so, it gives me an outlook on the world we live in that no other source would.

    So cheer up, Randy (and dear Kitty) and tell us some of those really ugly ones!!!

    Angry? Not at all: don’t confuse plain speaking for anger. There were small flashes of anger at some of the comments in my Joe Paterno discussion, but even there it was rare.
    Yes, TRUE is necessarily fairly US-centric. I do my best to find good articles outside our borders, but it’s difficult since I only read English. Translation programs don’t pick up on nuance, so unfortunately they’re of virtually no help. -rc

  29. Mike from Dallas October 20, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    I should have put it differently. I still get the free edition because I CHOOSE to do so, although I don’t know why I do so choose. I like both versions of This is True that I want to make sure I don’t miss anything. For that, I can certainly accept the constant upgrade exhortation, even though I’m already receiving it.

    Mostly, you’d miss upgrade exhortations. 🙂 But I know why some Premium subscribers keep the free edition, since they’ve told me: they want an edition they can forward to others; they like seeing the ads; they are marketing folks, and they study the upgrade exhortations to see how a successful publisher does them; they want to see which stories make it into the free edition (and how they get summarized in the upgrade paragraph); they want early notice of blog entries made since Monday’s Premium; they like reading the stories again. And probably more! -rc

  30. Carmen, Virginia October 20, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    Just want to say a simple “Thank You for being you.”

    Even if I wanted to be someone else, everyone else is taken! Thanks, Carmen. -rc

  31. Kamlesh, Manchester CT October 20, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Does unsubscribing from the free edition help you in any way? I mean, by bringing down the cost or something? If yes, then I’d like to do so since I get both the editions. Anything to help you with the costs.

    The incremental cost (“one more subscription”) is tiny. A bigger number is better, too, in that it attracts more advertisers. So the bottom-line answer to your question is, no, it doesn’t help to unsubscribe — it actually hurts just a little! -rc

  32. CB, McKinney, TX October 20, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    To Denise, Missouri. First, I, like Randy, am self-employed. My wife is also self-employed. I don’t have the luxury of affording True, but I make it a “choice”. There IS a difference. My wife and I don’t have the luxury of knowing when our next check will show up. I’ve had some work I’ve done (I’m a Real Estate Appraiser, she’s a Real Estate Broker) take over 6 months to pay. Typically, it’s 45-60 days from the time I FINISH the job before I get paid, which means I started it 2-3 weeks before that. She’s had listings that the sale fell through (buyer suddenly couldn’t qualify) 1 week before closing. Every day, I have to decide what bills I can let slide and incur a late fee for any one or more of the necessities of running a business such as the internet, car payment, gas for the car, business phone, cell phone, lights, car insurance, repairs, state mandated licensing fees, dues, required re-licensing classes, required software you can’t buy but have to lease, plus changes in Federal laws that require new forms (new software) for submitting appraisals, taxes, etc. And that list does not include monies for self-employed health insurance, house payment, food, clothes, and utilities, just to name a few. I’ve made a commitment to myself to show my appreciation for a quality product by taking just over 46¢ an issue to set aside for that “luxury”. I hope this clears up the point I meant to make earlier, which I can easily see (now) sounded crass and insensitive, and for that unintended inference, I apologize. However, the fact remains, whether you care to admit it or not, you make choices EVERY day on where your money goes. To borrow a consumer reporter’s phrase here in North Texas, “That’s my 2¢, spend it wisely.”

    Thanks for coming back to explain more fully. I can of course relate to your tale. The way I deal with it is to always “Live under my means.” If I think I can afford a $50,000 car, I don’t buy it; I buy a $30,000 car …and keep it for 10 years. If I think maybe I can afford a $3,000/month mortgage, I downsize my desires and go for a place that’s more like $2,000/mo. (The dollar amounts are made up; the point is, as you say, choices). Because of that, I was able to adapt when the 2008 financial meltdown hit. I was able to reduce some expenses, too, by cutting back. As you indicate, it’s very hard to predict income, so now and then there’s a squeeze, which is why I told the readers the truth last month: I was in a cash flow crunch, and even with cutting out my own salary, I might not be able to cover bills. Readers responded, and I covered all the bills and was able to pay myself a little, too. Not everyone has the ability to put out such a call, though! We’re all in different circumstances, and I appreciate your acknowledging that too. -rc

  33. rocketmouse, NJ October 20, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    I want to thank those who upgrade (!) so that I may keep reading the free edition.

    I could say a whole lot more, about my “bad” situation, about why I enjoy reading the free edition, etc., but others have already said things like that so much better than I ever could.

    Again, thank you. And thank you Randy.

  34. Skip, Oklahoma October 20, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    People, these days, seem to be making a career out of being offended by their own perceptions. Thinking has become a lost art. It’s through the efforts of those such as you Randy, that keep the spark alive!

  35. Mati, Israel October 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I actually find the “What You Missed” paragraph to be quite amusing. Obviously the stories themselves would be better, but it can be quite interesting looking for the original news story with so little data. I find many other thought provoking and/or amusing stories in the process.

    Small consolation for being unable to afford the premium, but much better than nothing.

  36. Juli, Grand Junction CO October 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    I too subscriber to both editions. I do it for the same reasons — I like being able to forward the free edition to people who will appreciate a story. I was one of those who was unable to afford the premium edition for a while. I was the happy recipient of a gift upgrade. That upgrade lasted until I was able to upgrade on my own. Thanks for offering that option to those generous enough to share.

  37. Duncan (Thunder Bay, ON) October 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Rather than complain about the regular request for upgrades, did it ever occur to the complainer to say “thank-you” for the free version? To borrow someone else’s phrase, just show an “attitude of gratitude”.

    And to personalise it, “Thanks Randy” from me, for the free version that comes to my Email nearly every week on a Friday night.

    You’re most welcome, Duncan. But no, “looking at the bright side” didn’t seem to occur to Jeff. He just stomped away mad. To borrow someone else’s phrase, I consider that “Throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” -rc

  38. Nick, Washington October 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    I can’t help but wonder if you might get at least a couple more subscribers if everybody was aware of the quarterly payment option on PayPal. In years past, I myself have let my subscription lapse because I didn’t have the $24 at the moment, but when I noticed the $6.75/quarter option…well that was easy (and to me, worth a couple more dollars a year)!

    The upgrade page has a bunch of options. The goal is to make it easy for YOU. Paypal, credit/debit cards, Amazon, check/money order, and more. No one option is right for everybody. -rc

  39. James, CA October 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Ten years ago I was a premium subscriber, I lost my job and had to cut back on cost so I let many subscriptions go.

    I was working in the communication business and as many people know the “dot bomb” hit the communication business hard. I never got another “pay check” job again. I started a ranch (orchard) and I now grow fruit.

    After seeing Jeff’s (in Virginia) comments I decided to upgrade again. I always missed the extra stories, and finally thought it was time to jump in again.

    I understand the financial difficulty that True is having, I was there for many years as the trees matured.

    I’m just glad I like apples 😉

    It’s neat that you found yourself a new niche — I’ve done that too. Welcome back to the Premium community. -rc

  40. Nick, UK October 21, 2012 at 6:40 am #

    Jeff is an idiot, but there are a lot of them in the world. I too run a very small business and the number of people who try and get something for nothing or complain about inconsequential things is ridiculous. I really enjoy your newsletter Randy, and 3-monthly subscription option makes it easy for me to upgrade. Keep up the good work and I look forward to receiving my premium edition soon.

  41. Guy, Big Rock, TN October 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    I started off as a “freebie” subscriber and, when I could, I upgraded. But, as the saying goes, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” Life dealt my wife and I a serious blow that meant I had to give up my Premium subscription for a while. I will only agree with Jeff that seeing the “please upgrade” ads anger me, but only because I KNOW I am missing some great entertaining and educational stories, as well as Randy’s often pithy end comments. I think that the future is looking bright enough for us that I will be able to upgrade again at the beginning of the year. I am so looking forward to that. As for living with hardship, yeah! Doing that at the moment. Disabled and too danged old to get hired (my case) by anyone, even though I have worked through my disabilities for years. Fixed income sucks, but so does dying and a lot of other things. The cup is at one half. In my case it is one half filled.

    And that’s a great attitude, Guy! Sure beats whining about it. Hope things turn around for you soon! -rc

  42. Dan, NB Canada October 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    For some reason, reading about Jeff in Virginia unsubscribing from the free edition inspired me to upgrade. His action and logic, or rather lack of logic, is what makes reading your newsletter great. And, unfortunately puts me in the same boat as him. You see I’ve been a subscriber for at least 10 years, maybe more. I even had a premium subscription back in 03/04, I think. I couldn’t renew when I lost my job but was thankful for the free edition. I eventually was able to turn my financial situation around to the point where I was very financially well off. However, I was extremely busy those years and didn’t have a lot of time but always read the free edition. Well the recession hit me too but now I’m back on the upswing again. I was going to upgrade when you made requests a few weeks back but…. And this is the part that puts me on the same level as Jeff. After reading about the “long-expired” subscribers and the record breaker I thought, “If I hold out long enough then maybe I can set the next record and get a mention in the newsletter.” Oh, the vanity and stupidity of humans!

    I don’t always agree with your viewpoints, but that’s all they are, your viewpoints. Thanks for all the laughs and times you’ve made me go “hmmm…”. Hope my little part helps, and now off to get some goohf cards.

    Welcome back, Dan! Your previous Premium was from Jan. 2004-06, so your 6.5-year lapse isn’t close to the record, which is now more than 12(!) years. -rc

  43. Tim, San Diego October 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Interesting you mention PBS and NPR, and that they will go away if no donations come in. You operate in a free market while they do not. Kudos to you and none to them.

    I’m unclear what you mean about them not operating in a free market. 85% of their funding comes from listeners, who are free to choose to support them, or not; the other 15% comes from federal grants to support public education, which they do quite well (PBS, especially!) -rc

  44. Clara, Canberra Australia October 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    I am already a premium subscriber, it’s the least I can do. When I originally saw this blogpost I thought, “Well I already subscribe to Premium, I’ll skip this.”

    Then I felt bad, I thought, “How else can I help Randy out?” So I am about to go and buy some products. I love giving out the GOOHF cards and they are always well received….might go buy some more and anything else that takes my fancy.

    Thanks Randy for making my week, week after week after week. I will renew my Premium subscription with pleasure when it comes up.

    To be sure, sales of products help a lot too. I sure have fun giving out GOOHF cards myself, and use the travel mug too. -rc

  45. Chris, Melbourne, Australia October 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Well, the whole issue needled my conscience and made me subscribe again!

    No need for guilt, but I’m glad to have you back, Chris. -rc

  46. Jerry, Tucson October 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    I’ve been a premium subscriber for a few years so I have missed all the requests for upgrades. Glad I made the move though. Jeff doesn’t know what he is missing.

    Yeah, that’s the best way not to see the pitches! 🙂 -rc

  47. Mark in Oklahoma October 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Like several others, I’ve been unemployed for awhile (since Jan. 1 of this year). I thoroughly enjoy the paid version of True, with its extra goodies. Then there’s the fact the being affiliated with the American Red Cross and as a former LEO myself, I truly get a lot out of Randy’s after-action commentaries. But the real reason I will renew my subscription has to do with a column he wrote about child abuse and child molesters awhile back. It really hit home for me and gave me a chance to open up about a few things that happened to me as a child. I swore on the spot that for that column alone I would renew my subscription. I’ll be keeping that promise as soon as I can, Randy, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing me with a way to vent safely. Things like that, where I feel safe enough to expose my open wounds to a little healing a hard to come by; for people like me trust is always a factor in any equation.

    I believe you’re talking about my Paterno commentary. I simply said what I thought needed to be said, and the outside report on the case backed me up all the way in my condemnation of Paterno. And if that helped you in any way to deal with your own demons, I’m very humbled. -rc

  48. David - Australia October 22, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I can’t believe someone’s whining about something so good that is free. I’m surprised no one has compared this to listening to radio in your car. If you get the commercial services, you get good music but a lot of (sometimes VERY) annoying adverts too. You have two alternatives — listen to the non-commercial stations (which are sometimes very good and sometimes not) or play a CD (which obviously costs you). Free TRUE has one BIG advantage: it’s a lot easier to skip over TRUE’s ads than it is to change station or push a CD into the player.

    I upgraded one year when I’d just got a lot of overtime pay. Since then, the sub seems to come when I DON’T have overtime, but I’m so used to the extra joys of the Premium edition that I find it somehow. It’s worth it. Even though Free TRUE’s ads never bothered me.

    And for the nitpickers, here’s something to think about:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybDKfGEw4aU

  49. Jou, Hayward, Ca. October 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    First up, let me be an A**hole and say:

    “You write it, you have the right to write anything you frigging well want to! Don’t like it? Unsubscribe.”

    Secondly, I love it.

    I upgraded a couple years back and ain’t letting go.

    Keep it up.
    Thanks.

    If I won’t change it when someone who pays makes demands, you can rest assured I’m not going to change for someone who doesn’t pay. -rc

  50. Tor in Hawaii October 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    As a premium subscriber, I have to say that one of the more interesting things about the free version is seeing how you truncate the stories you don’t put in the free version, and sometimes which stories you do put in.

    It’s even more difficult now that there are 10+ stories each week, rather than 7-9! -rc

  51. Jean in Oregon October 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    There’s a “plead” in every issue? I hadn’t noticed.

    Or, if you prefer the term, an “ad”. -rc

  52. David, Arkansas October 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    NPR may *say* they only come to you a couple times a year, but my local station sneaks in at least one an hour the rest of the year. Usually I just tune it out.

    FWIW, I’m a paid subscriber. I also contribute to NPR when I can, though money is really tight right now.

    Oh, I definitely didn’t say it’s only a couple times a year. They need to do it frequently to pay the bills, just as I do. -rc

  53. Maarten, Netherlands October 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    You’re just special Randy, someone is nagging about your life’s work incessantly and you’re using it to entertain the rest of us and find it entertaining yourself.

    You now have even more mail 🙂

    Hey, if I can’t use the nags as entertainment, why look at my mail? 🙂 -rc

  54. Sheila, Calgary, Alberta, Canada October 22, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    I enjoyed the free edition for years and finally upgraded for 2 years awhile ago. I am about to have to do some serious belt tightening but when I get notice that my subscription is about to expire I will find a way to fit it into the budget. I do get notice when I need to renew right? Keep up the good work and I have also liked your attitude.

    Yes, I send out renewal notice several weeks before expiration. -rc

  55. Sue in Bremerton October 23, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    For the price, I think the Premium is cheap. I don’t read the newspaper any more. I seldom listen to the news — too depressing. But every week, I am thrilled to get my This is True on Monday, and the Friday edition is just as exciting, although I could just save the Monday edition and re-read it on Friday… however every now and then there’s something that was not in the Premium. You do a good job Randy. Keep on keeping on.

  56. Rich in Ohio October 23, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    I once worked at a company at which two great things happened within a month of each other. We achieved one year without a lost time accident, and then got a major new development contract. For the occasion, the company provided a catered lunch for the whole company, but one employee became angry and boycotted the lunch because he said that the company owed us TWO lunches! Some people will bitch about absolutely anything!

    I love my premium subscription and don’t care how much you ask for upgrades. Keep the news and ads coming.

    If you had an alert boss, that guy would be fired. I certainly would have let him go! That “you owe me” attitude is toxic to a business. -rc

  57. Julie, Manchester UK October 23, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    I had also been on the free edition for years before upgrading, would I have upgraded without being constantly reminded and pushed, probably not. Will I renew, probably will finances allowing when the time comes.

    Randy you have teased us with the information that you get some even nastier emails, are you going to put them up so we can have some entertainment from them, I am sure the writers deserve it. I don’t always agree with you, but usually I can see where you are coming from on those occasions. I do find amusing those emails you print from people who are so blinkered with their own agendas they cannot see something from any other angle, I can only hope that one day they realise that other people’s view points are often just as valid as theirs.

    Keep up the good work of making me laugh, roll my eyes and think.

    When they’re worthy, or illustrate a point, I do publish them. -rc

  58. Ana, London, ON Canada October 23, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    I believe in supporting products and services that I enjoy and use.

    For years I could not afford to upgrade because money is really tight here. However, when I found myself with a small (and rare) surplus, I upgraded! Do I regret the upgrade? NO!

    It only bothered me to read the “what you are missing” paragraph because I could not afford to upgrade, yet. Did I whine about it? No. That would be silly.

    I, personally, love to “try out” services and products before upgrading. I have often discovered that the product or service that I was trying out was not a right fit for me. I have, just as often, discovered that it was exactly what I was looking for and upgraded as soon as I could so I could have the full-functions of the product/service.

    I understood / understand that you need to ask for people to upgrade. I think it is wonderful that you put out a free edition for those who are not ready to upgrade or cannot afford to upgrade.

    People should stop sweating the small stuff. There are far more pressing issues in the world than if you advertise in your free edition. Geez!

  59. Nick in San Antonio, TX October 23, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    I just paid for a gift subscription for Denise in MO but I didn’t see an option to leave “instructions to merchant” indicating it’s a gift (my receipt specifies that I didn’t leave any instructions to merchant). Oh well….Hope it works the way I intended, and hope Denise enjoys the Premium edition as much as I do.

    I’ll make it so. Thanks. -rc

  60. Ken, New York October 23, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Having been a premium subscriber for numerous years, and a free subscriber for several years before that, I never understand some people’s mentalities towards things they fell they’re “entitled” to.

    Yes, those pledge weeks can be “annoying” when they get in the way of watching the shows you tune in to watch. But I understand that they’re a necessary evil. At least you can skip over your small notice each week in the free edition, unlike PBS pledge breaks.

    BTW, I still have my free subscription as well. I skim the ads (which also help pay for the free edition) and have, on a couple of occasions, clicked through because it sounded like something I might be interested in. It’s certainly less intrusive than all those ads you see around the web. (Ever try downloading a free utility, only to be bombarded with a dozen “download now” buttons, all advertisements, and an almost-hidden “download” button for the utility itself?)

    And just remember, if all of these people smartened up, you wouldn’t have anything to publish in the first place. 🙂

  61. lisa, Dallas TX October 23, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    I was a free subscriber for 15 years before I was able to subscribe to the paid version earlier this year. It’s been worth it! As a free subscriber, I would skip over the sales pitch (feeling guilty, of course) but was still grateful to be able to read the stories provided. It felt like fast forwarding through the commercials on DVRed shows, and who doesn’t do that? Thanks, Randy!

  62. Cheri - North Carolina October 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    I first found This Is True because my sister shared with me. I upgraded some time later, but still keep the free version so that I can share the wealth with friends on occasion because I read that version, too! Who doesn’t like a good re-run?

  63. Terrell, Oklahoma City October 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    I don’t mind the upgrade requests at all. I do plan to upgrade when it’s responsible to do so, which for me is when I no longer owe other people large sums of money. In the meantime, I’m getting a free newsletter, so upgrade requests are to be expected. However, I can’t say that enjoy hearing you whine about other people whining. I seem to be fairly alone in that dislike, though, so I see why you keep doing it, I guess. Just expressing my personal distaste.

    I simply told the truth to the readers. If you wish to consider that “whining,” so be it. But as you yourself say, you’re practically the only one. So does that say something about everyone else, or about you? Think on that. -rc

  64. Cliff, SoCal October 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Before I subscribed (and it was recent), I used to look at that paragraph every time. It let me know some hints about other news, and I got good at looking these things up because of it. Without that paragraph, I never would have thought to look them up.

  65. Dan T., Florida October 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    I’m a premium subscriber, so I obviously find your publication worth the fee. I still get the non-premium version too, and have occasionally been mildly annoyed by a large portion of it being taken up by your “tooting your own horn”, but not enough to gripe about it. However, I can perhaps see where some of your critics are coming from; these days, we’re all constantly deluged with attempts to market at us by every means of communications. Robocalls on our phone, spam in our email inbox, and just about every website making ever-more-intrusive attempts to “monetize” the site by intruding ads in the way of the content, which animate at you, make the page shimmy around, blast sound at you, and so on… or their articles self-destruct after a few days and retreat behind a paywall, so by the time you follow the link you get only a nag to subscribe. Meanwhile, everything is produced and arranged to a formula aimed at maximizing ad exposures, with articles broken up into bite-size chunks you have to keep clicking “next” to go between, and forced into formulaic molds such as numbered top-ten lists.

    Not that your site or publication is any of that, but it just might happen that whatever commercial pitches you make become the “last straw” for some poor sap who’s just reached the breaking point from oversaturation of marketing from everybody else.

    I can definitely see that, but they’re not giving me credit for doing it right: no spam (it’s easier to get off my lists than on, and I never send ads-only emails), no constantly moving “look at me!” ads, no phone calls, no constant renewal notices (ever pay attention to what happens when you subscribe to a magazine? The renewal notices start 3 months into your 1-year term!), no “adult” or gambling or tobacco ads, no pop-up ads on the site, and the biggest one of all, I don’t sell contact info — either email addresses or home addresses (which I get when you buy something from me). And as noted on the Privacy Notice page on this site, all of this is the way it has always been from the start, even though if I did do these things, I could make a lot more money.

    Why is it this way? Because those things bother me, and I refuse to make my money on things I find distasteful and dislike on other sites. So here’s the killer: after doing all that, to have someone whine about the few things that are left means only one thing: “I don’t want you to make any income at all, even though that means the destruction of the publication.” Screw that! I don’t take dictation, whether it’s adding lucrative site pop-ups/pop-unders, or whether it’s removing a paragraph that drives the whole business — a paragraph that is easily skipped over. And similarly, I reject that they whine about it to me because they’ve become oversaturated on other sites that I have nothing to do with. But still, I do understand your point, and I’m sure it’s at least part of the explanation. But I think you already agree it’s an irrational and unreasonable whine. -rc

  66. Neil, Cape Paterson Australia October 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    I’m not sure exactly when I first subscribed, but it was back in the ‘This Just In’ days, around 1994-95 I think.

    (Just checked the header — it must have been only shortly after the first issue???)

    Like others I subscribe to both issues, mainly so that I can forward one to family and friends occasionally. Besides I enjoy rereading some of the items.

    The complaints sound like ‘biting the hand that feeds you’ to me! Keep up the good work, Randy. I for one certainly enjoy it.

    I’d be interested to know the date of that first issue (forward it to me by email?). The first issue was 26 June 1994. -rc

  67. Charles - North Carolina October 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    I upgraded this year after getting the free version for several years. It has been great. I am a pastor and arm chair anthropologist. I laugh every time someone complains and cancels their subscription. I cannot use as much as I would like of the material from This Is True in my sermons and teaching, but the reasons people are offended is great fodder. Keep up the good work Randy.

    I definitely consider such letters great entertainment. -rc

  68. Elizabeth, Central Qld Australia October 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    I can’t tell how long ago I fisrt started to get the free edition, but I do know that I have been a premium subscriber since at least 2006. I keep these in a folder in Outlook.

    Whilst the idiocy of Jeff in Virginia in unsubscribing and therefore missing out on entertainment is evident, I wonder if there are other issues that we are not aware of, under the surface. Perhaps he is totally transfixed by not being able to manage on his limited income and can’t bear to be reminded of it.

    I agree with your comments, but I also hope that all goes well for Jeff in the future.

    I am not working at present, otherwise I would ask if I could gift him a premium subscription.

    You upgraded in July 2005, actually. And while I appreciate your good wishes for Jeff, as a responsible publisher I cannot take a subscription order for someone who has asked me to stop sending them issues. -rc

  69. Dave, Grand Haven MI October 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    I got your free edition. Your constant nagging to upgrade finally got to me…..like the wife constantly nagging me to take out the garbage. It was RELENTLESS! You just wouldn’t give up! What could I do?? I FINALLY upgraded just to shut you up….but I still get the nagging in the free (FREE!) edition. What am I to do???

    End sarcasm.

    I enjoyed the free edition for quite a while, and each and every week I wished I could get the stories I missed in the Premium edition. I wanted to start my paid sub EVERY week!

    FINALLY! I COULD! And I don’t miss a penny of what I spent for the paid sub. I DO regret not looking for the pennies a week to get the paid sub earlier than I did.

    IMHO, everybody who gets your free edition wins. One winner.

    Everybody who gets your paid sub generates TWO winners. You get money, and they get great content.

    Those who unsub because of your ads are LOSERS!

  70. Ann, Deer Lodge, MT October 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Not sure how long I was a free subscriber but it made my weekends pleasant and thought provoking. I never minded the plug for upgrades…in fact I just looked at them longingly, waiting for the day I could squeeze it in my budget. And then the day came…Randy needed my upgrade so I budgeted for it and took the plunge. I bought Top Ramen instead of the bulk pack chicken! Worth every bite of the first Premium edition I read (today!)

    All I can say is that some people are just not happy unless they have something to be miserable about…and so they create their own misery. Who knows…maybe we will see Jeff in Virginia on True again…followed by a tag line just for him!

    Eat your heart out Jeff!

    You know, that’s a good point: I indeed wouldn’t be surprised to see his name in the newspaper sometime! -rc

  71. Jim in Tennessee October 28, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    Jeff (aka The Whiner) will likely never read this, but I’m sharing it anyway. I received True for several years (since like 1999 or 2000) before I decided to upgrade to the premium edition last year. Before you call me a leech, let me just say, I’m raising a family of 3, and now on a single income, and I have less expendable income now than ever before. However, I have so enjoyed True over the years, that my Premium subscription is now one of my worries and I’m pushing to continue my subscription in my budget. It really is worth the money.

    Having said that, it’s likely that Jeff wanted to upgrade, even felt compelled to, hence the reason for his complaint. He knows it’s a worthwhile investment, yet, he can’t seem to let go of the funds. Maybe he likes bowling and beer more, who really knows, but upgrading my subscription has been most enjoyable. I’d have to say, I struggled with the decision myself, but finally convinced my wife that it was a good investment; and $24 a year really is chump change, I would even consider paying twice that for 52 issues of True. Where else can you find this kind of bargain? Cheaper than cigarettes, cheaper than beer, and the buzz lasts all week long.

    I don’t call any free subscribers leeches, and never have. It could be that it’s just the right size for people, and they don’t want more stories. It could be they’re disabled and homeless and read it on a computer in the library, and will “never” be able to afford upgrading. “Why” doesn’t matter; if the free edition is all they want, then it’s all they want. The “Upgrade Paragraph” is for the fence sitters: the ones who love it and would really like to get more, but haven’t gotten around to it. (The Number One reaction from new upgraders is “I’m kicking myself for waiting for so long. This is great!”)

    All that said, you could well be right about Jeff. Loved it it, “knew” he “should” upgrade, but for some reason he just didn’t. When he saw so many others recently taking the plunge, it could have just made him feel bad for being too cheap, or too poor, or too (dare I say it?) dumb to do it, and it pushed him over the other edge. Stranger things have happened! -rc

  72. Snarky Sammie, Calif. October 30, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    LOL. My eyes, my eyes. Can. not. see. one. more. thing. that. I. don’t. want. to. see. Just tooooooooo hard (whimpering sound). Piffle. PantyWAIST pillow biter.

  73. Philip, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia November 11, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    As someone who was born, grow, live, work, and a citizen of a developing nation, I do think that someone complaining over some ad is really typical first world problem, on par with “why no one ever close the toilet cover???” 😀

    To put it in context, USD 24 can buy me 24 lunches. Then again, it’s a choice: do you feel True has enough value it in for your money? I’d say yes, and I hope I can upgrade again soon enough.

  74. Kim, OOOOOKlahomaaaaa where...the....okay I'll shut up now. November 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Do you put all of your blog entries inside the Premium edition? I check here (blog) often due to the notices inside the Premium edition (to get more information) but didn’t know if there was a way for “free” subscribers to subscribe to the blog itself? I’m no computer navigation expert and feel like there should be a way to follow a blogger’s blog without being prodded to check it…but I’m apparently too stupid to figure it out. I feel like I may be missing out on a larger part of This Is True! I love reading these things. Am I missing something?

    First, stop putting yourself down. No typos, no dumb statements, so you’re not “too stupid” for anything.

    To answer your questions, no, not all blog text is included in either the free or Premium editions; sometimes it’s simply too long, or has photos, or whatever. There’s always a link in the issues to new blog items, and they’re also “Tweeted” (if you’re on Twitter) and added to our Facebook page (but FB doesn’t always show you everything).

    Last, yes, there is a way to subscribe to blog posts, to get notification by email within minutes of a new posting. Go to the blog’s Home Page and there’s a little box to Subscribe by Email to Blog Updates. As with the rest of my lists, you have to look for a confirmation email and click the link in it to activate the subscription. -rc

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