With the exception of a few small outbursts, we mostly left the Boston Globe alone during its weeks-long failure to drop off newspapers on time (or, in many cases, at all) to subscribers. We’re sure that doorstep glitch remains to be completely fixed. But since so many of the people crying about that customer service fail sound like spoiled older and wealthier readers who can easily engage the wired side of the digital divide, we plan on continuing to stay largely quiet on the matter (as long as Globe writers and editors don’t again martyr themselves for assisting with a token Sunday delivery run).
Nevertheless, it is with great pleasure that we moan on behalf of digital subscribers. Because the latest Boston Globe Android app makes former governor Deval Patrick’s original state Health Connector portal look like the new version of Netflix. In short, the so-called e-paper update is unusable. Literally. The halfway decent application, in which fogies like us could peruse the broadsheet electronically and click through into articles for additional digital depth, no longer works. At all. And we’re not alone in noticing. Here are some sample rants from the symphony of haters seething in the Google Play store comment section:
- I used the application for three days now and it’s a huge mess. (1) On the first day, after downloading a copy of the paper, I couldn’t navigate beyond the third page without the application crashing. Neither dumping cache or getting rid of the data fixed the problem.
- Got this new version last week and haven’t been able to read it. Doesn’t seem to ever finish loading.
- App is a huge step backward This is not just a different app. It’s a terrible one. Loading screen appears and stays MINUTES after your subscription has been verified.
- Worst app I have ever used So disappointed and frustrated. Wish I could give it less [than] 1 star.
- Globe subscriber since ’77, but the company may have finally reached the limit of my ability to tolerate incompetence.
- This version has more features, but EVERYTHING it claims to do, it does either poorly, or not at all. My breaking point was riding on T from Alewife to South Station. I dutifully download the Globe before leaving for the train. Folks at the Globe – we call that OFFLINE reading! What’s the first thing the app tries to do when I get on the train? It tries to validate my account Alas, I have no internet connection and the application hangs. Dead in the water. Monster fail.
- I never write reviews, but this is so horribly bad I have to ask … what is going on? First, you can’t deliver the paper version. And now, you can’t deliver the e-paper. The prior online version worked just fine, and now it’s totally broken.
It’s tempting to shame the developers responsible, presumably the latest coder dips in a long line of contractors collecting checks that could otherwise be spent on journalism. They don’t seem to have done much better on the Apple side either, with similarly scathing (although fewer) assessments on iTunes. Some of the annoyances—awkwardly asking for access to all my contacts, for example, which is an odd request under the circumstances—are unforgivable. Ultimately, however, the blame lies with whomever at the Globe feels such a native app is necessary.
We thought about making a formal complaint. The Globe, after all, has an entire separate Android app dedicated to customer service. No joke—there’s an entire separate application for users to report problems with their digital or print subscriptions. After attempting to log in with our credentials and being rejected, though, we quit trying and instead just scrolled through the customer reviews. One summed our thoughts up perfectly. “Totally useless.”
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.