Some days, I just can’t decide if Strava tries hard to hurt their reputation, or, if it just comes naturally. Today, however, I’m left flabbergasted.
When I started writing this post, I thought I had it all figured out. And then each time I dug further, the rabbit hole deepened, and the absurdity of it expanded. So, I’m going to attempt to unravel this, but realistically, this ball of spaghetti is such a mess that I don’t even think Strava knows what they’re doing at this point.
In short: For some people, prices will double overnight. For others, it’ll be nothing. Others still yet will split the difference on a wide-ranging scale in between those points. The determining factor? Theoretically a combination of which country you’re in, when exactly you signed up, whether you’re on annual or monthly plans, and finally, exactly what today’s date is, relative to the date of your subscription renewal. I’m not kidding, you can’t make this up.
But the real kicker? Strava refuses to provide the actual price you’ll pay for Strava. In a nearly 24-hour long volley of e-mails that ultimately triggered them to publish a statement on their press site, they still refuse to simply state what the price of Strava actually is. I’m not kidding.
Getting the Ball Rolling:
Before we go too far, it should at least be noted that Strava has never increased prices in the last decade. If you go into your account settings, you can actually choose to have Strava send you a single e-mail outlining your entire payment history since the beginning of time (“Send All Receipts”). And this is what mine shows – that I’ve been paying the same $59/year since March of 2013 (though, I’ve actually been a member since September 2011):
And in fact, it also shows my upcoming renewal in March will be $59 as well:
However, before we get back to my account (and my wife’s account), let’s look at the storm clouds brewing.
Back a month or two ago, a few readers noted that their Strava subscription was showing a higher renewal price than before (free accounts still exist of course). Of course, as noted when I checked my account, everything was still the same. At the time it seemed specifically tied to UK accounts. Not other countries. And the exact change % varied depending on whether or not you were on an annual plan, or a monthly plan.
The UK Beginnings:
In the case of the UK monthly plan, Strava had raised UK rates from £6.99 to £8.99, about a 29% increase (though other people apparently have a £5.99 plan, so that’s a 50% increase). Whereas, for the annual plan, it’s far more subdued, raising rates from £47.99 to £54.99. That’s only £7 per year, or about a 15% increase. I think we’d all agree a ~50% increase is pretty substantial, yet at the same time, outside of temporarily trying Strava for a few months, I’m not really sure why one would buy it monthly. I mean, that’s what I wrote till I noticed my wife was signed up monthly for the last 5 years, which, is actually my mistake. I had upped her account to Subscriber to test something years ago and never thought about it again. Doh.
(Fun fact, in order to go from monthly Strava subscriber to annual Strava subscriber you literally have to cancel your membership account, wait for your current month to expire, then finally remember to re-subscribe. WHAT!?!??!)
Looking at the UK piece specifically, what can’t be ignored is the simple economic reality that two things are probably at play:
US inflation last 12 months: 6-8% (depending on which source you pick)
GBP to USD Exchange Rate last 12 months: Down 14% (GBP value to USD decline)
These UK-specific changes seemed to start shortly after the British Pound (vs USD) reached rock-bottom back in late September. Remembering that Strava bills UK users in local British Pounds, but ultimately Strava is based in the US and the vast majority of their employees/costs are in the US. Just as we saw with numerous other companies, the cost of business has simply risen. Companies have to pay employees more to stay competitive (especially for tech companies), and other infrastructure costs have also risen.
Then More Countries:
Now, fast forward to the last day or so, and Reddit has blown up with some people showing huge annual price increases as well, from $59/year to $99/year, and others up to $79/year. And monthly prices from $5.99 to $11.99 (a price doubling!). A few other people living in other countries reported price increases as well. Here’s an example e-mail of a price increase from $59 to $99, a 67% increase:
The problem though? It’s super random. Some people got e-mail notices with upcoming price increases, while others got no e-mail and their account shows upcoming renewals at a higher price. And plenty more still, like myself and my wife, show no price increase either (nor did I receive an e-mail).
If however, you sift long enough through Reddit threads, you eventually find a thread that talks about a support article Strava posted (or updated) on Saturday that attempts to outline what they are doing, price-wise. I say attempts, because clearly ‘Meg’ was tasked with writing an article to explain the most confusing policy possible. For all the hate other companies like Amazon, Netflix, etc get for their price increases, at least we can decode them. It’s straightforward: On X date, the new price will be Y. I mean, except TrainerRoad, which also said “…but only if actually you want to pay more”.
In any case, there’s a table in this Strava Support article, which your eyes will naturally gravitate to:
Unfortunately, if your eyes did gravitate to that table first, then you missed the slate of ifs/ands/buts that were prefaced in the block of text above it. Which I’ve included below for funsies. Again, I don’t envy poor Meg’s task here. She did the best she could with the paper bag of poop she was handed:
So, let me try and simplify this for you, here’s the distilled version:
We, Strava, will increase your price if you live in a random smattering of countries. However, we won’t show you said new price until 30 days prior to renewal. Nor will we put that price in a handy table anywhere on our website, because honestly we wouldn’t want you to know just how much we’re gonna increase it. Also, if today is before February 2nd, 2023, then, frankly, we have no idea what your account renewal status should show (but whatever it is, it’s probably not right). Shrug.
P.S. – If you just signed up for this dumpster fire of a situation since November 23rd, 2022, then we won’t increase your price for now. Pinky swear. Maybe.
Hugs and kisses,
Seriously, that’s literally what it says. I can’t make it more serious than that. And their support article directly contradicts what people have posted in Reddit showing things like $79/year renewals coming in May.
So in the case of our household, two different things are happening:
A) Me: In my case, theoretically, my price will increase when it renews on March 14th, 2023, because mine is listed as a US account. Except, I have no idea what it’ll increase to, and I will apparently receive a notice 30 days before.
B) My Wife: In her case, her account is actually listed to our Netherlands address (we live in the Netherlands). Currently, she’s on a monthly account (doh, again), but hey, as it stands now, her price isn’t going up. Had we left our previous France address on there from a few months prior, then it’d increase.
Also, fun fact: I can’t actually find any place to update said country/address. Both of our accounts are actually billing to US credit cards (directly on Strava’s site). At the moment, that seems to be a good thing for my wife. And, I suppose it’d make sense for me to switch my account to being a Netherlands-based person before March…if only I could figure out how.
Finally, A Proper Strava Response:
So, as I started mulling through this, I shot off an e-mail to Strava’s PR person aiming to get some clarity. I was just looking for a simple table of what the USD/EUR/GBP final prices were (monthly/annual). I wasn’t gonna try and get greedy and get actual explanations or other prices. Nonetheless, some number of hours later, I got an official answer, which Strava is also going to cross-publish to their Press Blog site.
Here’s the official response I received from Strava:
“At Strava, we are consistently investing in the value of our subscription experience to deliver a best-in-class digital experience. A price change was recently enacted to reflect the growing subscription features, as well as local market changes. We remain committed to delivering value to our active community on a daily basis.
The last pricing release for annual subscriptions took place about a decade ago while monthly subscriptions have seldom fluctuated.
Price adjustments will vary depending on region and preferred platform.”
Meanwhile, that’s actually different than what they posted to the press site about 20-30 minutes later:
“As we continue to invest in your experience, our prices may change to better reflect new features and market conditions. The decision to change our price was not taken lightly and we want to share why this is happening.
Our priority is giving you a unique experience for a holistic view of your active lifestyle. This happens through delivering you value on a daily basis through new features, product updates and services. In the past 10 years, Strava has added countless new features including support for more than 40 sport types, Beacon, route recommendations, an online route builder tool, global and personal heatmaps, segment leaderboards and custom goals and progress. These additions are made based on your valuable feedback, what we are hearing from the active community and research.
While our subscription price has largely remained constant for the past years, we also take local market conditions into consideration. When costs and plans are adjusted, we’re always working to improve your experience and invest in the value delivered to you on a daily basis. Pricing decisions will continuously be evaluated to ensure we are offering the best value of our growing features to our community.
Price changes will vary depending on region and preferred platform.”
Well, that’s at least slightly more clarifying than the statement e-mailed to me 30 minutes prior.
Except, that didn’t answer my original question on what the actual prices are (or whether or not they’re going to notify end users)? So, I circled back again, asking again in one line what the USD/GBP/EUR pricing is for monthly/annual subscriptions. Silence. Then, one more poke, this time getting:
“That’s our full press statement.” – Michael Joseph, Strava PR Lead
Wait, are you kidding? I’m actually mildly angry at this point. Strava actually can’t tell me what its price is? So, being the generous guy I am, I just wanted to make it clear the road they were travelling, saying in the nicest way possible, “Wait, sorry, just to confirm: Strava can’t tell me what the price of Strava is anymore?”
To which, Strava stopped responding.
This is arguably the most insane conversation I’ve had with a company in the 15 years I’ve been writing about sports tech. A company “with more than 100 million active people in 195 countries”, literally can’t tell me the price of their own product in even just the three biggest countries/regions. And mind you, if you think it’s published anywhere, it’s certainly not. Even if you go to sign-up for a subscription, they won’t list the price.
Gonna Do This Myself:
So given Strava is unable to provide their own product pricing, for even just one country, I’m gonna figure this out myself. So I cracked open some VPN software, and then an incognito browser session and got to work. I connected to every country on the list as if I was setting up a brand new account, to get the current new subscriber pricing. I also picked a few other countries along the way, just for fun. Here’s the current pricing for signing up for a new account in each of these countries:
(Reminder: Your account will not likely show this new pricing until you’re within 30 days of your renewal, and said renewal is after Feb 2nd, 2023 – per the screenshotted support article up above.)
Generally speaking, this matches what other people are seeing. And, it also explains some things. The $99 seen earlier for the annual sub? That was apparently a Canadian person. Whereas the US pricing is $79/year. However, indeed, the new monthly price does double to $12.99.
The only quirk though is actually my wife’s account, which shows both the previous renewal 4 days ago, and upcoming renewal in 27 days as 7.99EUR, versus the 10.99EUR it should be for a Netherlands account. Of course, the challenge is that there’s actually no way to see on Strava’s site what your billing origination country is. That appears to be set from whatever country you instantiated the account at (like, where the computer was). So it’s plausible we were travelling in Spain or Italy sometime in the fall of 2018 when we clicked ‘Subscribe’ on her account. Or, something else entirely.
Either way, that’s the best we’ve got for now. Maybe Strava will wake up and decide to publish their own price list like every other company on earth. Or not.
Here’s the thing, Strava seems to be hoping that nobody notices this price increase. Problem is – people are, and when they get notified, it’s nothing more than a short and terse e-mail saying their prices are increasing upwards of 67%. Unlike other platforms which at least attempt to smooth over things, outline all the new features a user got over the past while, or basically explain things a bit.
When Strava replaced its CEO a few years ago with one of the original founders, they pissed off a lot of non-subscribers by removing features for free accounts. But long-term, they focused on subscribers as their singular revenue source. The idea being to focus on features subscribers wanted. And to their credit, they’ve largely done that. Sure, all of us could name one stupid thing Strava hasn’t done or hasn’t fixed. We all have our ‘this seems obvious’ thing we want changed, but practically speaking, companies can’t change every thing every person asks for. However, on the whole, Strava has done a good job at adding plenty of new features.
Unfortunately, whatever goodwill Strava built up over the last few years, they’re flushing down the drain through non-communication to end users. Like most consumers, I’m a pretty reasonable person when it comes to understanding the world reality that prices are going up. I get it. I really do. But just be honest and clear about what those prices are going to be, and then, at a minimum – attempt to justify them. I don’t know how you justify a 67% price increase. Perhaps you do it by noting that Strava prices haven’t increased in a decade. But, that’d require opening your mouth and doing it, not just flipping a switch and hoping money rolls in.
In our household’s case, for my account, I’ll renew it. Mainly because it’s my job to write about new Strava features. The only premium feature I actually routinely use is creating routes. I have virtually no use for Segments. Meanwhile, for my wife, we’re just going to cancel it. This was probably a good reminder that she doesn’t use any premium features at all at this point, so there’s really no reason to stay premium. So ultimately, in our home, Strava will gain maybe $40 in revenue to concurrently lose €95 ($102). A net loss of $62/year.
At the end of the day, only Strava will truly know whether or not their strategy is going to work. But I struggle to see how this approach helps the company long term. And I fail to see how hiding your price from consumers is a good business practice.