The following is a rough model of how a FairPay offer might be framed to consumers. For this simplified example we consider a newspaper that has decided to go to a freemium "soft" paywall model such as used by The New York Times and many others. Call it The Times Journal. A sample FAQ is also included at the end.
(Draft in progress - 6/17/10, revised 8/15/10, 7/15/11, 12/14/15)
Now you can pay what you think fair for The Times Journal!
As with many Web services, we now offer a simple pricing plan with two levels of service: a basic level of up to 10 articles per month remains free, with a paid subscription level required for more intensive reading (more than 10 articles per month). The standard subscription costs $4.95 per month. You may elect that paid subscription plan now, or at any time that you decide you want more than 10 articles in any month.
As a preferred, more flexible alternative, we are selectively offering to you and other loyal readers a special privilege that what we call our FairPay plan. This monthly service works on the basis that you "pay what you think fair" -- you are free to set the price each month to whatever level you believe to be fair, considering your level of use and the value of The Times Journal to you, at the end of each month.
Special Introductory FairPay Bonus ...and continuing Special FairPay Bonuses:
If you try our FairPay Plan and continue it at satisfactory pricing levels for three months, we will provide a special bonus, a Times Journal "FairPay Patron" tote bag, in fine canvas. This $15 value item is available only to FairPay subscribers in good standing. As you continue on the FairPay plan, we will provide other special bonuses from time to time, as a reward for your cooperation and continuing readership and support.
[***Include photo of tote bag with
"FairPay Patron" label***]
If you view less than the 10 articles that would otherwise be free, or even a few more, you are free to pay nothing, without fear that we will revoke your FairPay privileges. However, as a regular reader you might also feel that those articles were valuable, and that some payment is appropriate.
We hope you find greater value than the average subscriber and will feel it appropriate to pay proportionately more than the $4.95 rate (which is aimed at average subscribers). If you do so, we may offer special services to show our appreciation. But a payment that is not well below the standard rate would not lead us to revoke your basic FairPay participation.
We understand that people have varying means, and are willing to adapt our expectations accordingly, based on what you tell us and what we may know from other sources.
Our hope is that readers will understand that we need to cover the costs of our journalism. If too few readers do, we may be forced to eliminate the FairPay option, and require all readers to subscribe at fixed rates if they want to read more than 10 articles per month.
Much as public television and museums have premium subscribers and benefactors, we hope those who are regular readers -- and those value the quality of our content, and can afford to pay more, will see fit to do so. We hope you will see that as a way of helping us to serve you -- as well as to compensate for those who cannot afford to pay full price. We will seek ways to show our appreciation to those who pay at premium or benefactor levels.
Sure, if your usage varies, or your value-received varies, it would be fair to reflect that in what you decide to pay. For periods you use a lot, and get high value, a higher price might be fair. If there are periods you are away or otherwise not reading often, a lower price might not be inappropriate. And if we help you achieve financial success, perhaps you will see fit to thank us with a higher price. To the extent that we see that your usage varies, we will report that and suggest a price that we think corresponds accordingly, but you will still be free to adjust upward or downward from that as you judge fair. The pricing form will ask you to set your price in terms of a percentage of the suggested price -- you can price at that suggested price, or higher or lower by whatever percentage you wish to specify each time.
Not if you make a reasonable effort justify the fairness of any payments that are well below suggested prices. FairPay is designed to converge on fairness over the course of a relationship, so if you show a good-faith effort to explain low payments on your pricing form, we will seek to understand your reasons, and work with you. We may ask for more information, and/or may put you into a probationary status while we try to continue to work with you, to see if we can agree that you are being fair over a series of transactions. But if you set a very low price without giving any justification, then you might be excluded from further transactions. Even then, we will offer a dispute resolution process if you wish to seek re-instatement.
We will do all we can to streamline the process.
- Once we see that you are pricing at acceptable levels, we will extend more FairPay "credit," allowing pricing to be done quarterly, or even yearly. We expect to start that after three months.
- Your monthly pricing form will have simple buttons to let you select the standard subscription price of $4.95, or a suggested price based on your actual usage, or the price you had set for the previous month, or to let you enter any other rate you wish.
- The form will also have a simple multiple choice form for feedback on any issues that affect why you set that rate (and a space for entering any comments, if needed).