Wednesday, September 01, 2010

ACM Membership prices

The time has approached for me to renew my ACM Membership, and you can imagine my surprise to see my fees double from one year to the next. So I decided to send them an email to let them know of my discontent
Dear Sir/Madam,

       I was checking out the amount due to be paid for the renewal of my ACM membership and could not fail to notice that the price has *doubled* from what I paid last year. Although I do not question the value of an ACM membership, I think that ACM needs to provide some honest explanation as to why this extreme price hike, as I seriously doubt that ACM operational costs have doubled. Ever since I joined ACM for the first time 8 years ago I never considered not renewing my membership but I am now sadly inclined not to renew my membership. I understand that the final cost of my membership last year might have been slightly reduced due to my time as a member, but this discount (and absence thereof) is no justification for the prices applied this year, moreover if you have applied discount to old members, then you have created this expectation for me and I would like this to continue.
       The issue of cost is now more relevant than ever, with universities cutting budgets, salaries and funding, and top conferences charging ever more exorbitant registration prices (and ACM membership no longer providing discounts to registration as it did when I joined in 2003). In particular, I find it outrageous that the online library is an optional item that costs the same as membership itself when this is one of the main reasons I am a member of the ACM, while the print version of CACM is obligatory (I would like to have the option of not having printed versions of the magazine for a discount).
       I'm not sure what this pricing strategy intends to accomplish, but by doubling your prices ACM might get half the membership renewals and break even.


Felipe Meneguzzi
Now, I did not expect a useful reply (they probably do not give a damn about their members with these prices). However what I got defies belief, the ACM person rudely sent me my previous invoices and said I was getting discounts for living in a developing country (apparently they consider Britain that?) with a big implied "screw you". She also politely offered me not to send the Communications of the ACM printed magazine, but without affecting price. Now I have always doubted ACM's true utility, since I pay for it and get nothing in return (it is primarily an American lobby group, I'm told), this just confirms my feeling.

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