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Dec 4, 2001 06:11 PM
Discussion Begins Charging for Exclusive Content

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from the, As if things weren't bad enough Department:
From Silicon Alley Daily:

The Zagat Survey, which has provided travel, restaurant, and bar ratings and recommendations for major metropolitan areas for more than 20 years, has expanded its website.

For $14.95 a month, users can sign up for Zagat Wire, an e-mail bulletin with exclusive content. The newsletter will provide more expanded reviews and information on restaurants and nightlife, and it will also offer discounts on both outside merchants and Zagat's products.

The listings and information on Zagat Wire is all new; the content currently on will remain free as before. Also offered is the prospect of reviewing brand-new restaurants and businesses. This marks the first time Zagat has required users to pay for any of its services.

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  1. Why pay $180 a year (about as much as my ISP charges) when I can get better info here for FREE! What a ripoff!

    16 Replies
    1. re: chris g.
      michael (mea culpa)

      //Why pay $180 a year (about as much as my ISP charges) when I can get better info here for FREE! What a ripoff!//
      Agreed. But on the other hand, due to my moving around I had not received a copy of the 2002 LA Guide. I got Zagat's email solicitation for their "exclusive" info and I replied asking why I hadn't gotten a copy this year. A few days later back came a message asking for my address so they could send me my copy. So, sometimes you can use their schemes to your advantage.

      1. re: michael (mea culpa)
        Leslie Brenner

        Whoa, there everybody! charges $14.95 per year, not per month, for Zagatwire. It's not $180 per year--I can't imagine who would subscribe at that price.

        And while I have the same problems with the Zagat guides that many others here do, I actually have signed up for Zagatwire because it reports on restaurant openings, chef changes, etc.

        1. re: Leslie Brenner

          Have you subscribed to us, yet?

          Restaurants which are patronized survive. Those which aren't wither and die.

          Those lesser-known places where food is cooked from pride and love survive when enough people like us recognize their value and support them. But if we just come every day and take their free crackers and ketchup and use the rest room without once in a while buying something, we are ensuring their destruction even if we claim to really like them, even if we smile a cheery hello at the staff, even if we consider them an important part of our lives.

          If we just take the crackers and go down the block to Olive Garden for dinner, we've voted with our feet. has always been about making such choices very consciously and carefully. I find it really sad and stupendously unexpected that our community (except for 86 of us) has made this resoundingly clear choice.


          1. re: Jim Leff
            michael (mea culpa)

            C'mon, Big Dog. Give us a couple of days for the guilt to set in.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              I don't know if I am out of the norm in the way I use Chowhounds, but I have the LA Message Board bookmarked. I have only gone through the front page a few times in the hundreds of times I have visited. I didn't realize there was anything Chowhound related to pay for. :)

              Two things come to mind. First, if the message boards were a single click away from the top of the homepage, then the homepage would be a more convenient start point. Second, maybe you should use some of the message board space to promote the Chowhound products/services. Throw in a left column with links and info.

              I find the group invaluable, and worth supporting financially.

              1. re: David L

                thanks for the feedback and kind words. We actually spammed every single board with a huge notifcation re: the chowmarket yesterday (which I HATE to have us do), but it's already been buried, which is why you missed it. Maybe I'll have one of the crew do it again right now, and we'll repeat daily. Hate to have that kind of a site, but...I would like to have SOME kind of site.


                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Instead of spamming, why not put a link to the chowmarket on top of all of the boards and the hot-posts window? That way it can be both unobtrusive and always available. I didn't mind the opening spam, and the occasional spam to discuss new products is fine, but I would hate to see constant, repetitive spamming.

                  Also, I don't think 86 in the first 24 hours is too shabby. Say there are a thousand regulars on the site, that's nearly 10% in one day. Numbers that would make public television and radio stations green with envy. Even if there are more than that, you can't expect everyone to buy immediately.

                  1. re: SKU

                    Board headers would take copious programming (not just HTML). We may look into that , though. thanks for the idea.

                    We have many, many, many more than 1000 users. I appreciate your thoughts, but you're not privy to any of the info or parameters on which results can be assessed (we have several NPR fundraising execs--hounds all--consulting with us, in fact). Also, it's been open since Monday, so we're closing our third day. It's gone from trickling to slow dripping.

                    Forgive me, I promise I don't mean to sound harsh at ALL I know you're trying to help!), but I have to point out that you're not in a position to draw conclusions. So you're going to have to trust me that this isn't just bad or disappointing. It is sheer utter disaster.

                    Five years of excruciatingly hard work building this site (which all of us running the site personally love) will be wiped out (and the site's debt exacerbated rather than eased) as a result of the failure of this last gasp effort, so please understand that my reaction is neither casual or callow. Not by a long-shot.

                    1. re: Jim Leff
                      michael (mea culpa)

                      Is this really a "last gasp"? You shoulda said something!

                      1. re: michael (mea culpa)

                        I did. Read the message at link below again, where everyone's sent before going to the chowmarket.

                        I guess nobody believed I was serious. Not sure why; I've never lied to you guys before.

                        tomorrow's gonna be a pretty crappy birthday for me, alas.


                        1. re: Jim Leff
                          michael (mea culpa)

                          Here's hoping things improve. Soon!

                    2. re: SKU

                      This is true..Some of my clients are direct mail, and a 1% response would make them wet their pants!!!!

                      1. re: galleygirl

                        maybe you didn't read my response. This is not a 10% response rate. It is a less than 1% response rate.

                        We should have a HIGHER than 10% response rate because we present a unique resource to an ultra-loyal (or so we thought) group.

                2. re: Jim Leff

                  I want to make very clear that the above posting (aside from the reminder, at the very top, to consider subscribing to us as well as to Zagat) was addressed to readers at large and NOT specifically to Leslie!

                  If this was NOT clear, and it read like some sort of personal harangue, I'm beyond mortified. We like Leslie a lot around here.


              2. re: michael (mea culpa)

                "Why pay $180 a year (about as much as my ISP charges) when I can get better info here for FREE!"

                Free for you, but not free for me. And response to our ChowMarket has shown that only 86 chowhounds (of our many many thousands of professedly loyal audience) take this resource seriously enough to support.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  It's only the first few days. I am about to sign up myself. Keep the faith.