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Trying to unsubscribe from paying for delivery of the print edition of Wired magazine (in the UK) is far more difficult than it should be. This is likely to cause users to drop-out from the unsubscription process, causing Wired to generate more revenue than they would otherwise have done. Here’s a walk-through of one user’s attempt to unsubscribe. First, the user goes to the Wired UK website. They start off by doing a search for “unsubscribe” using the site search engine.

User fails to find means to unsubscribe via site search on

As you can see above, the search returns no results. The user then goes on to read the items in the main navigation bar. The “Magazine” section has the right information scent – perhaps there’s something in there?

These areas in the secondary navigation have roughly the right information scent. Secondary navigation appears, in which there’s an option to subscribe, but not unsubscribe. The user clicks on subscribe, just to check.



Footer of subscription form, stating “you can cancel at any time” but not saying how.

The user finds themselves on a busy page containing a subscription form. the very bottom of the page in small type it says “you can cancel at any time” but it doesn’t say how to do this (as shown above). Realising it’s a dead-end, the user clicks “Contact Us” at the top of the page, and then they click “Manage your subscription” which sounds promising. They find themselves on the page shown below:


Manage your subscription

Once again, there is no clear option to cancel the paid subscription. Finally, the user tries “View your subscription status”, and is taken to the page shown below.


View your subscription status

The user now realises this page only allows them to renew – not cancel. The other options such as “Update your details” also revealed no option to cancel. Ultimately the user decides to write an e-mail requesting their subscription to be cancelled.

Example: (August 2010)

In the USA, LA Fitness currently allow users to sign-up for a membership online, but if they want to cancel their membership they have to do so by snail mail, as shown below. provides a very rapid online sign-up process with great usability.


Customers cannot cancel their memberships online (Note: this screen-grab was taken in June 2007 by Joshua Kriegshauser

This PDF membership form clearly (dated December, 2009) states their cancellation policy – see highlighted area. (source: