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Cook's Illustrated membership? [Moved from Home Cooking]

bxgirl Apr 22, 2009 06:49 AM

I keep getting emails about half-price membership to Cook's Illustrated.com. I used to get the magazine and did enjoy it. Stopped the subscription because I thought it was a bit too pricey for a once-monthly magazine.
Can anyone chime-in as to what the advantage is to the online membership?I know I will have access to all the recipes, recommendations, techniques,etc. but do I really need all that?
If anyone has (or had and discontinued) a membership to the online Cook's Illustrated, I would love to hear you thoughts.

  1. w
    winegirl1973 Dec 21, 2009 07:44 AM

    I'm a member (if anyone is thinking about joining, look elsewhere on this site for a discount member code... - $12.95/yr), and I've always thought that the main advantages of joining were:

    - Searchable database (vs. searching through years of back issues and cookbooks)
    - Updated information (some recipes do get updated/changed over time)
    - Complete resources (even the most dedicated fan is not likely to have the COMPLETE collection)

    But now I'm confused - right after I hit "send" on my online membership, they offered me an "upgrade" - for another $14.95 - that includes the "Editor's Choice Cookbook Collection" - all the Cook's Illustrated cookbook recipes. I thought that was what I was getting!

    I love CI - despite all the insane stuff, I still find it to be one of the best recipe resources out there. But if they want to be the go-to site, they need to figure out a way to a) be more transparent in their pricing and b) link all of their information (CI, Cook's Country, America's Test Kitchen, etc.). It's not even just price - I just don't want to search all three sites for the same darn thing!

    Sorry to vent!

    Does anyone have any experience with said "Cookbook Membership" or feedback on it?

    1. dave_c Apr 23, 2009 12:11 PM

      I have an online membership without any problems.
      The draw is the access to all their info at anytime.

      The problems I've read about on chowhound seem to be centered around two issues.
      1) Canceling... which I haven't done.
      2) Being charged for books you didn't order... I've done book of the month clubs and those were a hassle. When I registered for CI, I unchecked of any "book of the month" type stuff.

      1. f
        FoodyGirly Apr 23, 2009 09:27 AM

        Bxgirl, I've had a subscription to CI for years now. Never had a problem.

        If it was me, I wouldn't listen to the naysayers. It's a magazine. I think people are expecting way too much from a magazine subscription. The way some people are talking, you'd think they want to actual CI team to come to their house and cook these recipes for them! Just substitute 'Cooking Illustrated' with 'Time' magazine. What are your expectations with Time? Get up-to-date, informative news stories, nice pictures, etc. etc. That's exactly what you'll get with CI. Great recipes, nice photos, and informative explanations. It's not a car, you'll most likely never need to call customer service. I have to wonder why all these people are having to deal with customer service??? I've never in over 5 years!

        If there's a recipe I remember wanting to try and can't find it, I can usually find it online by Googling for free.

        2 Replies
        1. re: FoodyGirly
          billieboy Apr 23, 2009 10:10 AM

          I think the OP was asking about the online CI, not the mag.
          I am very suspicious of the online CI. They want to give me a "free" two week trial, but want my credit card number. If it's free...why the credit card???? No this kid.

          1. re: billieboy
            FoodyGirly Apr 23, 2009 10:17 AM

            Oops, wrong thread. Thanks for pointing out. I could have sworn I clicked on another thread that was asking about subsribing or not. And I agree about the online. If it's truly 'FREE', then you shouldn't give your CC.

        2. LindaWhit Apr 22, 2009 07:38 AM

          See this thread for a LOT of information about their customer service and issues with billing:


          2 Replies
          1. re: LindaWhit
            bxgirl Apr 23, 2009 07:23 AM

            WOW!!! Thanks so much for the link. Given all the negative comments about ending a membership (but keep getting billed for it), I think I'll pass.
            Actually, I got a negative vibe from CI when I had the magazine subscrition but was unable to access the website without paying the additional fee for that. I thought that was a bit ridiculous.

            1. re: bxgirl
              LindaWhit Apr 23, 2009 07:48 AM

              You're quite welcome. To me, customer service is all part of the "product" when I buy something. And if lousy customer service is given after there's an issue with the product (i.e., Sears repair service on products they sell), it becomes part of the "poor product" and I just don't deal with them anymore. To me, CI's incredibly poor customer service reflects that they just don't care about their customers.

          2. b
            bnemes3343 Apr 22, 2009 06:59 AM

            I have an on-line membership to both America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illiustrated. To me it is worth every penny. Rather than hunting around in a dozen cookbooks for a recipe I want, I just go on-line, get it and print it. Can't live without it.

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