Empire Magazine on iOS: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Eggs, Spam and Spam

When I first got an iPad, I was mightily impressed with Empire Magazine’s transition to the digital landscape.  It showed off what was possible with digital publishing.

ALAS!

2018, and Bauer Media has made an absolute pig’s ear of the app.  The first mistake was transitioning to a new platform, and with that platform came the ability to spam the reader with all manner of subscription offers – even after you’ve become a subscriber.  The second mistake was pop-ups while reading the magazine, forcing down the gullet of the reader more subscriber offers – again, even if you are a subscriber.

Trial?  I’m already a blinkin’ subscriber?!  What madness is this?

This makes it far worse than the printed magazine – I find it’s easy enough to ignore the calls for subscriptions, but here, it’s unavoidable.  What really gets my goat is the pop-ups while reading the magazine.  You can’t turn them off.  It’s cheaper to be a subscriber to Empire Magazine than not, but it’s at the expense of having to see more bloody adverts from them advertising different subscription options.

I’m enjoying reading this article and then.. BOOM … we interrupt this service to ask you to commit further.  Even if you do, we’ll probably keep throwing these pop-ups at you anyway!

Then there was the problem of restoring a subscription.  From what I could see, the cheeky buggers at Bauer Media had – when updating the app –  changed the internal subscription name which meant that it could never be restored unless the subscription used the same internal name.   Effectively I lost 4 or 5 months of my subscription, all because Bauer updated the app and was ineffective at ensuring previous purchases (and existing subscriptions) were restored.

The following is a transcript from Apple Support who were equally unhelpful:

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 12:49 PM
Duration 16 minutes 38 seconds

Lavanya

Thanks for contacting iTunes. My name is Lavanya. Please give me a moment to look over your information.

Lavanya

I hope not, in case our chat gets disconnected for any reason, you can chat us back using the reconnect option in the chat window. We will also email you how to contact us back. We can also be reached at https://getsupport.apple.com/GetCaseDetails.action with your Case ID: XXXXXXXXXX.

Lavanya

Hello Martyn, how are you doing today?

Me

Fine, thank you.

Lavanya

Glad to hear that.

Lavanya

How can I assist you?

Me

I have a subscription to Empire Magazine through the iTunes Store. Since the developer updated their app, I am unable to access my subscription. I can see some back issues, but I should also be getting all editions up until 26th May 2017.

Me

I tried to contact the developer, Bauer Media, but they have been no help whatsoever.

Lavanya

Not to worry, I am happy to help you with the best resolution.

Me

Thank you!

Lavanya

Thanks. Let me check your account.

Lavanya

Martyn, this is not a monthly subscription right?

Me

6 month subscription

Me

Magazine is monthly, however.

Lavanya

Okay. In this case, you will need to work with the developer of the app because they are the responsible for content related issues.

Lavanya

I deal with only billing related issues of iTunes Store.

Me

In which case, since I am unable to access the whole subscription, can I please get a refund?

Lavanya

Let me check that for you.

Me

If anything, a refund so that I can repurchase a subscription that at least works with this new app platform.

Lavanya

I tried my best to refund the charge for you. However, the purchase is not eligible for refund.

Lavanya

To know more about iTunes refund policy, please review the article below, at your convenience: http://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/

Me

But I can’t access the content. My contract is with Apple, not the content provider since you manage the billing and platform on which it is distributed.

Lavanya

Yes, I too agree with you. However, the refund should process as per refund policy. If purchase is not eligible for refund, we can not process refund.

Lavanya

In this case, you can contact the bank to discuss on refund or work with developer of the app.

Me

I can’t get in touch with the developer!

Lavanya

Let me share the developer contact link.

Me

I’ve been in touch with them, but there is currently no response.

Lavanya

Here is the link http://www.empireonline.com/forum/

Lavanya

I request you to wait for their response.

I never heard from Apple or Bauer Media ever again.  Essentially the ONLY response I got from Bauer was “Oh, that’s terrible.” – and then silence.  I wish I could find the original email conversation, but I must have deleted it out of frustration.

So I’ve about to give up with the Empire Magazine iOS app once and for all, and stick to using Readly, a magazine app which gives access to a wide variety of magazines – Empire included – for a single monthly price of £7.99.  Sure, it’s not as fancy pants as the Empire Magazine app, but it gets the job done.  But I do wish Hollywood Reporter and a few other publications wouldn’t use such small fonts.  Oh hum.