Friday, November 21, 2014

To the ARRL: How to alienate faithful members.

One of the things I try to do is to support organizations that further my interests. For instance, I love to hike and appreciate the beauty of nature and so I belong to several hiking organizations that maintain trails and advocate for conservation of the natural environs.

I also like ham radio and as such am a member of the ARRL (the American Radio Relay League), which is the premier advocate for supporting amateur radio activities.  They also advocate for legislation that helps further the hobby.  When I renew, I usually do so as soon as I get my notice that my membership is going to expire soon, and I normally renew for more than 1 year at a time.

Good member, right?  Well you know the old saying, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease?"  I was hanging out one day with a fellow ham and I noticed that he had a really nice collection of ARRL publications.  Since I have many of those same books myself I know they are worth a good bit of change.  I remarked to him that he must spend as much as I do on books, but he said not really.  It turns out that if you don't renew your ARRL membership when it comes do they will send you an incentive in the form of a book.  So my friend (lots of them it turns out) doesn't renew until they offer the free book.  He does this every year and so HIS membership is apparently worth a lot more than mine!

This makes me feel like a chump.  Why should I renew for multiple years, on time or ahead of schedule, for the full membership fee, when I can just wait a few weeks and get a free book.  Most of these books average in the $20 to $30 range, the median being around $25.  With a one-year membership currently going for $39, they are effectively paying only $14 a year for their membership.

I know the ARRL wants to keep member roles up, but they should offer something to those of us who renew right away too.  At least that's my opinion on the matter.  What do you think?

Kevin, AB2ZI


  1. I renewed just before expiration, but they offered me a free book. I wasn't expired. But i do see if this was the case yearly, you would loose out on multiyear renewals.

  2. You lose even more if you become a life member.