When Macy's wanted to know what Gimbels was doing, the folks from Macy's could simply walk into Gimbels and see what items they were selling, how they were displayed and for how much they were selling.
When we at Pensions & Investments want to know what our competitors are doing, we purchase subscriptions to their news products.
Unlike many of our competitors and quasi-competitors, P&I is not a news aggregator. We don't run what other news media reported. And especially in our daily newsletter, P&I Daily, we break news and offer competitive intelligence.
Still, we go through the Macy's/Gimbels drill regularly, and we sometimes pay a relative fortune to do so: Money Management Letter, for example, charges us three times what we charge for a subscription to P&I Daily; FundFire charges even more, because we have to buy a site license instead of just a subscription.
Thus, we were stunned recently when we were denied access to MML's website. When Rob Kozlowski, our editorial assistant, called MML, he was told someone had canceled our subscription on March 15. After numerous attempts to get more information, he got a call from Graham Chitty, publisher of MML. Mr. Chitty said MML canceled the sub and was refunding our money — and that of other competitors — at the request of MML editorial staffers, who don't want other publications to use MML's stories.
Here's what we think really happened ...
A couple of weeks ago, MML ran an item in its daily product in which we were quoted as saying that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson had been named in a lawsuit. We had not reported that, and we successfully requested a correction. We think MML's editorial staffers were not pleased by this, and decided they did not want us to be able to know when they were using our stuff and possibly misquoting us.
I don't mind not having access to the majority of what MML publishes. But I do mind not being able to see what they use from us, and whether they use it correctly. In fact, I think that stinks. Shame on them.