If you fell for the New York Times’ “Create a free account to continue reading” online offer, and now you want to cancel the account, you may have a hard time figuring out just how to cancel that NYT digital account. Here’s how.
So, you probably filled out that form, or something similar, submitted it, and anticipated being able to read at least a few stories for, you know, free. Because it says it’s a free account. Maybe if you were lucky you got to read one more – at max three.
Then you realized that ratio of stories you could read for free, compared to the amount of email from the New York Times that was piling up in your inbox was out of balance, to say the least. “Ok,” you think, “fair enough. I probably overlooked a prechecked checkbox allowing them to send all this stuff, I’ll just go unsubscribe from those mailings.”
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So you go into your NYT account and unsubscribe from everything. But it keeps coming. Now, you know (because you read the Internet Patrol) that by law they have 10 days to keep sending you stuff once you unsubscribe. But c’mon – they clearly know that you don’t want it.
So by day 5 you’re ticked, and you decide to just cancel the darned free (read as “useless”) account. So you log into the New York Times website, go to your account, and search for the “cancel account” link. But you can’t find it. You can’t find anything even close to resembling a link or even a clue to cancelling your NYT account.
And that’s because there is no way to cancel your New York Times account online. That’s right, your account – your free NYT account, that account that they are hammering with email, cannot be canceled without your personally contacting customer service.
Put another way, the New York Times has intentionally made it very easy for you to create an account – to get your email address – and intentionally made it very difficult to cancel that account, because, of course, just as with so many other online services (Facebook, Google, etc.), you aren’t the customer, you are the commodity. Put more clearly, your email address is the commodity, because that is the conduit through which, ultimately, they monetize you.
Here, below, is an actual chat conversation that we had with a New York Times “advocate”, let’s call him Tom (not his real name). Note in particular the parts we have bolded:
You are now chatting with Tom.
The Internet Patrol: Hey Tom
Tom: Hello, thank you for contacting The New York Times, my name is Tom and I will be assisting you today. How are you doing?
The Internet Patrol: I need to know how to *close* my account, removing my data (especially my email address). There is NO such option from account settings
Tom: I would be more than happy to assist you with this. Please give me a few moments to get your account located.
The Internet Patrol: Thank you
Tom: I went ahead and located the account. Please give me a few moments while I take a look at your account.
The Internet Patrol: It’s nothing more than my name and email address, I do not have a paid subscription
Tom: Yes, I was doing this request for you. I went ahead and removed your email and closed this account.
The Internet Patrol: Thank you! For future reference, how does one do it without having to contact someone like yourself?
Tom: Did you visit myaccount.nytimes.com?
The Internet Patrol: Yes, there was no option to close an account, only to change the email address
Tom: To completely disable the account in our systems it must be done by a customer care advocate.
The Internet Patrol So there is nowhere/no way to cancel an account on your own? :-\ Like no link?
Tom: Correct there is no link. It would refer you to an advocate.
So, that is the ultimately unsatisfying answer to how to cancel an online New York Times account: you have to deal with a “customer care advocate”. Here’s how to do that.
How to Cancel an Online New York Times Account
As we said above, in order to cancel a NYT account, you have to deal with one of their customer service reps. It’s the law. Here’s how the Times says to do it – note that in order to access the chat feature you must be logged in to your New York Times account
If you would like to speak with one of our Customer Care advocates, here’s how:
Ask us a question via chat. Expected wait time: 2 minutes or less. If you are on a desktop computer, you may see this option at the top right of this page. If you are on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of this page to locate the Chat button.
Text Customer Care at 855-419-6348. Expected wait time: 5 minutes or less. Standard messaging rates may apply. Your information is used to respond to your text message only.
If you are in the United States, call us at 800-NYTIMES (800-698-4637). Our hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. E.T. Monday – Friday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. E.T. Saturday – Sunday.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Expected wait time: 24 hours or less.