This week, Jon Tennant went off on a riff on Wiley and the poor experience he had with a particular journal published for a society by Wiley.
First - I'm not affiliated and so very much not endorsing any companies, etc.
Second - I'm on record saying some things are worth paying for and I still feel that way.
I've reviewed for a Wiley-published society journal but not published with one. The ScholarOne interface is like whoa, yuck, but that is, by the way, actually a TR product. Any interactions with the editorial staff have been very professional and pleasant.
I've also been helping a colleague navigate ScholarOne to submit to a Taylor and Francis journal. It has been more than a year and we're still going back and forth with them. E-mails to the editor go unanswered. One reviewer was just like "this isn't science" and doesn't do any more reviewing. The other has provided detailed feedback which the authors have appreciated.
Over the years, I've seen plenty of organizations think they can just do it all themselves. Why, though, should they not outsource to vendors who already have set-ups? I mean, OJS is just ugly. Free CMS are plentiful, but just because you can put articles online for cheap doesn't mean that they'll work with the rest of the ecosystem.
From what I can tell about what Tennant said, his real problem is with the society and the editors, not with the platform.
The other think to think about is if the society had to pay the intermediate vendors themselves (Atypon, etc) and manage those relationships, would that really be cheaper than an all-in-one package? Maybe? Not sure.
Remember, too, that journals are sometimes expensive because the society sees them as a revenue stream so they can pay expensive executives and lobbyists and maybe a scholarship here or there.
If you're part of a society trying to make the decision, you'll likely have the numbers to help - but I don't think the decision is as obvious as everyone thinks.