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Mar 15, 2013 04:53 PM

Cooks Country Jacks Up Online Access Price 175%

I know I've groused about Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country price gouging on Chowhound before, but today, the company took it to a whole new level. I hope anyone who's a subscriber to their web sites takes note.

It's bad enough, as many people have mentioned here and other places online, that the company essentially makes you pay for access to their content on any and every single platform: print subscription, web subscription, iPad subscriptions are all separate - and not inexpensive - fees. The $29.95 annual price for access - which you need to make use of their "free" iPhone app - doesn't even get you access to the full site's contents. For that, you pay an additional fee of $14.95 for the "Editors' Choice" Membership, which includes a select number of recipes for their published books (many of which I've purchased as well).

Together with the separate subscriptions for both pubs on iPad, I have a total of EIGHT subscriptions and associated fees for TWO publications.

For the most part, I've swallowed the fees and told myself that, given the number of good meals I've enjoyed from their work, it's worth it. Maybe not a bargain, given all the other sources of really very good recipes online, but manageable.

Today I received a notice from the company, however, letting me know my annual membership to would expire this month, and it would be renewed at "the current regular membership price of $34.95."

Nowhere do they mention that this is a price increase of 175% year over year. That's right - last year, the annual membership to was $19.95. Now, it's $34.95.

Worse yet, I went online to cancel my membership so they would not automatically charge my card on file this newly exorbitant price. Despite being paid up on my last annual membership through April 5, the site cancelled my access immediately. Talk about a huge middle finger to anyone who's had it with their price gouging. It took 15 minutes on the phone with a customer service representative to reinstate my online subscription for the remaining time I'd already paid for.

Although I love the content put forth by this company, their shading marketing practices and ham-fisted pricing strategies leave such a bad taste in my mouth, it's hard to remember how good their recipes are. I'm now thinking about cancelling all my subscriptions to the various and sundry products I've already paid for and just cooking from my enormous backlog of issues (or picking up the occasional "Best of" collection, which they seem to issue every other month).

I'm sure I'm in for another similarly insane price increase for online access to when my annual membership for that expires soon. I'll have to let that one go as well.

Or, like their rip-off online cooking school, maybe enough subscribers will cry foul that they'll come to their senses and readjust their pricing. We'll see.

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  1. Yep shady marketing and price gouging is exactly why I dropped my online subs a few years ago. They can KMA.

    1. I read them both at the library. If there is anything I really want, I just make copies. Also, the library has many of the ATK cookbooks.

      There is no way I am paying that much money. I can live without it.

      1. Anywhere in the fine print did it say 'we will cut off your access the day you cancel'?

        1 Reply
        1. re: pdxgastro

          The same thing just happened to me, and I don't think I was sufficiently warned.

          Frankly, even if they do warn you, it's a lousy business model. Let people use a service for as long as they're paid up.

          Why should I risk waiting until the last moment and forgetting to cancel?

        2. Go to and search for Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country bound annual editions. You can buy used copies of past years for usually under $10. I have nearly the entire set (used) at really good prices.

          1. The "no advertising" concept has its consequences.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ferret

              My thoughts also. If they wish to be "unpurchasable", why not accept travel ads, etc.; anything not cooking related?