How not to run a subscription system – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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How not to run a subscription system

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Overnight I received a receipt from WorldPay to say that my subscription had been renewed.


Transaction Confirmation

Please retain for your records

Thank you

Your transaction has been processed by WorldPay, on behalf of Telegraph Digital Limited.

Transaction details:

Transaction for the value of: GBP 35.88
Description: Payment 2 of FuturePay agreement ID 11111111
From: Telegraph Media Group Limited
Merchant’s cart ID: 66666
Authorisation Date/Time: 18/Jan/2014 01:17:52
WorldPay’s transaction ID: 9999999999
This is not a tax receipt.


This confirmation only indicates that your transaction has been processed successfully. It does not indicate that your order has been accepted. It is the responsibility of Telegraph Digital Limited to confirm that your order has been accepted, and to deliver any goods or services you have ordered.

If you have any questions about your order, please email Telegraph Digital Limited at:, with the transaction details listed above.

Thank you for shopping with Telegraph Digital Limited.





Later the same day I logged on to Telegraph Puzzles and was greeted with the following message:

Cancelled subscription

I had heard tales from others of similar situations, but have only just experienced this bungling incompetence myself.

Please note the clause at the end of the WorldPay advice:

This confirmation only indicates that your transaction has been processed successfully. It does not indicate that your order has been accepted. It is the responsibility of Telegraph Digital Limited to confirm that your order has been accepted, and to deliver any goods or services you have ordered.

This leaves the responsibility fair and square with Telegraph Digital Limited. As mine is not an isolated case, surely they should be liable to be prosecuted for a breach of consumer protection legislation.

Update: 20th January 2014
Normal service resumed, account active again.

Thank you for contacting the Telegraph Media Group.
Further to your enquiry I am sorry to learn that you have been unable to access your puzzles account.
I am sorry to advise that with the recent website issues, some accounts have shown as expired. This has happened whenever a payment had been requested whilst the website was out of service.
I have now manually adjusted your account and you should now be able to fully access.
I really am sorry for the inconvenience caused.
Yours sincerely
Alan Edwards
Customer Services
Telegraph Media Group

Alan must be working long hours of overtime due to these problems, so I thank him yet again.

66 comments on “How not to run a subscription system

  1. Dave: This has happened to me for the last 3 times my subscription was renewed. Another example of their IT department’s incompetence. I am tempted to cancel my subscription the day before it is due to renew every year and then renew it manually to prevent this happening again. I would much rather we had to renew it manually every year than have this automatic renewal that gets so screwed up.

  2. Most years when my subscription has come up for renewal , my credit card has been debited but on the DT Puzzle site the computer ‘says no’ ie denied access because ‘sbscription has expired’
    Then after a flurry of E-mails and apologies, the service is restored.
    I’ve come to accept it as normal practice (for the DT)

  3. So the DT apologise for being absent for so long and today, I still cannot renew my sub, rejects postcode entry – error code. Anyone able to access today’s xwords please?

  4. Just opened an e-mail from telegraph puzzles thanking me for my patience (if only they could have heard my language over the last 7 weeks) and offering me a £10 Amazon voucher. Better than a kick in the teeth I suppose.

    1. I filled in the form for the Amazon voucher on Friday but as yet haven’t heard back – they are supposed to send you a code o use or something.

        1. And UK Amazon vouchers are no use to those of us who do not live in the UK. Not that I have received an apology email with the offer.

      1. The mail also stated that it would return the code by return – like you I’m still waiting. Anyway on to more important matters – The Virgilius Sunday Treat, once I’ve got the ironing out of the way (in this house if you wear it then you wash & iron it!)!

        1. Good luck with the voucher. I do wish your washing and ironing system worked in our house too!

          1. 2 prs of jeans, 4 work shirts, 2 blouses (not mine!) & 8 pillow cases. All done while listening to the togmeister. I find it quite therapeutic especially as my lads now do their own ironing so I don’t have the usual mound as I had when they lived at home (happy days which me & Mrs S both miss)

            No doubt Miffypops will have something to say about my domestic regime.

            1. I’ve just done ironing while listening to him too. I love him.
              A while ago I did a spot of mental arithmetic – about 300+ shirts per year = about 1,000 per 3 years. We’ve now been married for 38 years which means, unless my ‘sums’ have gone seriously wrong I must have ironed getting on for 13,000 shirts and that’s not counting school shirts for our girls.
              I’m sure Miffypops would approve of our system more than yours.

          1. As a Yorkshireman my belief is that £10 in my pocket is better than it being in some other bu##er’s so I will send them an e-mail every day ’til it arrives in my in box!

              1. 100% former citizen of the county of York itself but now a reluctant ex pat who had to move “south” with the job 27 years ago. (to a Yorkie, West Bridgford counts as being in the south which traditionally it would have been as the town is on the south side of the River Trent, which used to be the “border”.

    2. Husband was offered a £10 Amazon voucher. I’ve just reminded him that he needs to do something about it – will report back.

      1. Yep, the note definitely said we’d receive a code by return but I didn’t so I tried filling in the form again – same thing, no code and no response.

  5. I’ve had problems before as well – double payments and other issues. It does seem the Telegraph has a few problems at the moment. I also had a print subscription which we let lapse and then last April they offered us a deal and we started up again. Apparently for some reason, they can’t take payment from some of their customers. So since April they send us at no charge, undated vouchers. I became increasingly uncomfortable but every one I have contacted there knows it is affecting a small core of customers and the last one said well you probably subscribed for years and so now it is payback time. And my daughter who is a journalist said that they probably count me as a subscriber which helps their advertising. It does seem very odd that a major newspaper has this problem for almost a year and cannot solve it – just as the long time to sort the puzzles site was disconcerting.

  6. All of this is indeed a sorry tale of woe.

    My subscription was renewed,and I had a refund of 2 months for the site outage after I complained.

    No access currently as my old pre outage password was not recognised , 3 attempted password resets and still no reset emails received.

    Great work in keeping us all informed.

    1. Same situation here Bob. I did eventually get an email suggesting
      a) that they had restored my ‘original’ password. This is a worrying statement (nobody should be able to see my password!). Still, I tried the password and it didn’t work.
      b) I click on the ‘forgotten password’ link. Very helpful.
      Five days from that gem I have heard nothing despite two more emails….
      Staggering ineptitude. And yes thank you Dave – I would be taking it personally by now if it wasn’t for this site.

  7. The offer of the Amazon voucher was conditional on the person being a subscriber to the Telegraph puzzle pages. As the site seems to be telling most of us our subscription has expired or has been cancelled, I really can’t see anyone getting the voucher!

    1. The voucher offer appeared in my email inbox about two hours after the email confirming that I did indeed have a paid-for subscription, with a new password which they had tested before sending me the email. I may not have the voucher number yet, but (touch wood) I can access the site (four days now).

  8. My subscription ‘expired’ last year as they couldn’t help themselves to my credit card as mine had run out and been replaced, thus having a different 3 digit code on the back. Much better to let us renew, having had an email in advance hopefully..

    1. I couldn’t agree more after all the problems I have had and I have to rely on emails since I don’t live in the UK. Even if I was willing to pay overseas charges to call them the time difference is prohibitive.

  9. I can’t get back in. My passwaord has expired and despite asking for a new one and being told it has been sent, I have recieved nothing. I have tried renewing my subscription (which has expired) and because my email is already registered it asks me to log in first. I can’t because they won’t tell me what my new password is. ARGHHHH.

  10. I don’t believe it! Well I do anyway with this shower – I’m now being denied access to the on-line version of the paper! I’ve tried to check if I need to renew but it just tells me my details belong to someone already registered ( I know – it’s me you muppets!).

    This is becoming quite Kafkaesque.

  11. What is the best email for Telegraph Puzzles. I’ve sent four in the past 8 days to telegraph enquiries and all I get is an automated response containing this :

    “Telegraph Puzzles update: We have now restored core functionality to the site and will continue to improve various elements of the service over the coming weeks. Again, we apologise for any inconvenience caused by this service interruption.”



    1. Try calling 0800 316 6977 or 01622 3335 030 and ask to speak to Alan Edwards but be prepared to wait. The guy is under a lot of pressure but I found him most helpful.

  12. For anyone who uses Crux to download the crosswords to the iPhone to iPad, you cannot access them with your log-in details. I asked Crux what the issue was and received this reply:

    “Now that things have settled down over at the Telegraph, we’re working
    to adapt to their changes. It looks like they’ve got some bugs, and
    we’ve reported them, but in the meantime we’re trying to work around
    them. Our next update should include those changes, and we’ll be
    getting that published ASAP. I’ll be happy to let you know when it’s

  13. Lucky you for getting a respone. I have had the same problem but after contacting the telegraph over 5 times in the past 2 weeks I am still yet to get a response.

  14. It’s stiill not working or is it my computer?
    I get as far as the ‘play print ‘screen then clicking on play, nothing happens.
    But I can print off the crossword.
    Why flipping release something that doesn’t flipping work???
    Flipping DT IT!!!!

    1. Have you looked at this entry in the Telegraph Puzzles FAQ?

      Do I need any special software?

      In order to access all of the interactive features on Telegraph Puzzles you will need to download Adobe Flash 10 to play puzzles online. If you do not have Flash 10 you can download it for free from Adobe.

      If you do not want to download Flash 10 you can still print puzzles.

  15. I too have been trying to renew my subscription (which ran out in December), and had the same message from WorldPay, on behalf of Telegraph Digital Limited, confirming my payment had been processed. I am emailing daily but have not had a response apart from the automated one two weeks ago.
    Luckily the link is still active but missing the other features of the site.
    Thank heavens for your blog BD!!

  16. Pity they don’t offer £10 Amazon vouchers to those of us who have suffered and still suffer the poor programming that passes for the iPad app. By now, I could have bought that new Magimix SWMBO has her eye on!

    Indeed, they have specifically said that they won’t/can’t offer to compensate.

    Again today, there’s no download.

    1. They might offer the Amazon vouchers, you might apply for them, but they don’t actually turn up (in my experience – 16 days is not ‘by return’)

    2. If you believe in the mythical Amazon offering then could I sell you a slightly singed Phoenix? If I made promises to my clients about compensation then I am certain that they would deduct it from any payments they might make to me if it was not forthcoming. It’s a disgrace that they are so inconsistent.

  17. Don’t get too excited if you think all your problems with Telegraph Puzzles are resolved. Having decided it liked me for a whole 3 weeks, I am now informed that my subscription has either expired or been cancelled. I have sent yet another email to the poor long-suffering souls at Telegraph Enquiries.

    1. Dare i say that i’ve had a trouble free few weeks & have been able to log on & print the puzzles every day? Now i’ve said that it’s almost certain to be kiboshed tomorrow morning. Thankfully BD has been kind enough to mail me the puzzles in pdf format so at least i’ve got a fall back option.

      1. I am saying nothing…well ok I’ll risk it…all working perfectly well and have had my amazon voucher code but not tried to redeem it yet!!

      2. Don’t wish to worry you but that’s what I said yesterday! The Amazon offer is obviously very similar to Spindrift’s Phoenix – still not turned up.

        1. I have a suspicion that the £10 Amazon voucher was not signed off by somebody in authority to do so & that the DT realised that potentially they would have to compensate each & every puzzle subscriber. That would make a bit of a dent to the bottom line and I don’t expect that The Bewlay Brothers would appreciate that. Methinks heads may have rolled for that faux pas…

          1. The DT cannot manage to correct their “Puzzles” site … after 2-3 months(?).

            But they hiked up the price of the paper without any difficulty in a single day! Hmmm?

            1. Has it gone from £1.20 to £1.40? If so that makes it a 17% increase and RPI is running at c.3%. Profiteering? Cynical? Moi?

              What’s it going to cost on Saturday (the only day I buy the paper)? If it’s gone up by the same % amount to £2.35 then they’ve just lost another customer as I refuse to fund the off shore activities of The Bewlay Brothers!

  18. I still can’t back onto the site – how it thinks I cancelled my subscription is anyone’s guess but the Amazon £10 voucher code has just arrived in my email inbox

    1. ..and i’ve just got mine! Also (don’t mean to gloat) I can log on & print the puzzles!

      On another note what do think our new (potentially anyway) blogging duo will use as their nom-de-guerre?

    2. …and I’ve just spent the b#gger before it disappears. Sherlock 3 for £3.99 plus P&P – thank you DT.

  19. How about “Napoleon & Josephine” or “Nelson & Lady Hamilton” (quite apt given Pommer’s background).

  20. I’ve been feeling quite smug because I haven’t had any problems accessing the site since the day it ‘came back’. Then two days ago my subscription was automatically renewed and this morning I’m getting the dreaded message ‘Your subscription has been cancelled or expired’.

    1. That was my experience this morning. E-mail from World Pay to say my sub had been paid, followed by ‘Your subscription has been cancelled or expired’ from the puzzles site. A phone call to the help line number fixed it in short order. The poor souls on the help line must be fed up by now that the site is still not talking to the payments section.

  21. Still no resolution in sight with log-on/ subscrpition problems. I even get now you need to be a subscriber although I’ve paid up.

    1. The nice young man I spoke to the other morning (who very kindly resolved all my problems) said that it is some sort of ‘glitch’ between the payments system and the log on system.

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