Monday, November 14, 2016

newspaper subscription hell complete with daemons

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Have you ever been so frustrated by something so petty that you're almost ashamed, except the thing frustrating you is something you really want to get resolved and you make a hundred good-faith efforts that get you nowhere except more frustrated and you just want to raise the window like in the movie Network and yell "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore"?

If not, I envy you but I'm not sure I understand you. We obviously don't even live in the same universe. How do you even know me....?

If so, hello old friend, welcome to my petty party, climb aboard.

Here's my gripe. (And it's not about the election. So relax...)

We have one real local honest-to-goodness traditional newspaper in this town. We have subscribed to this paper for years and years and years. Until recently. Not because we decided to un-subscribe. But because apparently they have "new subscription software" that is causing issues. And their issues are causing me issues.

I called the newspaper subscription number THREE TIMES this fall to restart our subscription. Every time they have taken my card number and assured me the automatically renewing subscription will be reinstated. Every time the paper comes for a day or so and then stops, and no charge is made to my account, and I am forced to scratch my head and harrumph and feel tight in the chest and question my sanity and then make another frickin' phone call.

Finally I completed the subscription online. I requested automatic renewal. The daily paper arrived. There was great rejoicing. Then I received a "friendly reminder" email that P&C had made "several attempts" to let me know know my "membership is up for renewal" when actually the email was the only message I received. Seriously? What happened to "automatic renewal"??

I penned a response (or whatever you call an online email where you actually don't use a pen.... "keyboarded" a response?) hoping it would make someone at the paper laugh and hoping even more it would prompt someone to call me and tell me how I'm the only subscriber in the Tricounty Area having this problem and I just fell through the cracks and isn't this funny and ho ho ho we will fix this Ms Carver-uh-howdoyousaythat-Fudge.

But no, All I got was a mailer-daemon response with "Technical details of permanent failure". Seriously, a Mailer DAEMON. Not a modern techno demon, but an old-fashioned ancient Greek malevolent spirit daemon. Because apparently my letter went into the deepest recesses of ancient newspaper hell never to be read or replied to or even laughed at.

I took a deep breath and once again I called, on November 8th, where once again I tracked down a live human being and gave him my card number and was reassured that my subscription was restarted, and once again I went an entire week without receiving a paper of any kind, At this point I considered snail-mailing my letter to the paper, maybe as a Letter to the Editor. But I doubted it would matter. And I knew they wouldn't publish it. And I didn't have any stamps. So I decided to publish it myself on my blog. No stamps required. So mwahahahaha, take that, mailer daemon.

I'm not deluded. I know this will not get the attention I desire from the newspaper.  I will have to pick up the phone and call YET AGAIN if I ever want to feel newsprint slap my grass again. (Boy that sounds kinky, doesn't it?)  But at least I will have the satisfaction of knowing one person other than me reads my letter. Thanks, Morgan, you're a doll and I'll get your sports section for you one way or another, love you, mean it... <3


Dearest Subscription God at the P&C,

Methinks you guys are having some dysfunction in the subscription department. I don't know if y'all have had a turnover or group brain hemorrhage or robot revolt, but I hope any serious issues will be rectified soon. In the meantime, here's my plight:

I have subscribed to the P&C for many years and had my monthly fee deducted from my account. Until this summer, that is, when you 1) stopped deducting my fee and 2) cancelled my long-term monthly subscription. Most likely it was because my dang debit card number changed due to a re-issue by my dang credit union, but in the past you have always contacted me by phone to get the correct information. Mea culpa that I didn't think to call you, but 1) I was out of the country and 2) I am the customer and 3) this is Charleston. I know it's only $23.70 and that hardly buys you coffee these days, but things being what they are I thought maybe I would receive the courtesy of a ring.... Silly ol' me. 

When the paper stopped coming, I was shocked - SHOCKED! - I tell you. I accused all my neighbors of stealing my paper. (Especially the woman who doesn't pick up after her mini Pincher... I don't understand the use of those dogs anyway.) After my sweet neighbors told me they too were having delivery issues and accepted my apology in the most Southern form of cake, I called Membership. It took three calls to talk to a real person. Now I'm not one to talk on the phone so I understand your reticence, but really - isn't that sort of in your job description? But I digress... 

The lovely lady who spoke to me was AGHAST that I had stopped receiving my daily news and commiserated with me! She took my new debit card number. The paper came for a week or so, then stopped. What the....?  I called again, trying multiple times until I reached a human being (are they scarce there these days?). The much more officious lady told me we hadn't paid in months. I protested. Then I checked my bank account and saw she was right. I felt lower than a possum's belly, like a regular low life bill ignoring bum. I asked why P&C had not debited my account. She did not know. She asked if I wanted to subscribe anew. I told her I would think about it, but at that point I was not inclined to continue. A woman's pride can only take so much.

At first we decided to quit you, P&C  - the news these days isn't that great anyway and the ongoing issues we had with refreshing a long-term but interrupted subscription were starting to be a burr under my saddle. (Metaphorically speaking... I don't really ride horses. They eat too much.)  But after a week with no paper to read on the toilet or use to drain bacon, we decided to resubscribe. I even received a confirmation email:

Dear Subscriber,
We received the following start request on 10/3/2016:
Start Request Summary
o Account Number: nnnnnn
o Publication: POST AND COURIER
o Subscription: 7 DAY EZ MONTHLY RENEWAL
o Rate: MN2340
o Restart Date: 10/3/2016

I'm frankly confused why I am now getting an email telling me you have "made several attempts" to contact me to tell me my subscription is "up for renewal". Where have you tried to contact me? My phone works but I have no voicemails. My email works but this is the FIRST email I've received about this. I'm starting to think you're like the bad student who "attempted" to turn in his homework but couldn't because of X Y or Z. 

Why oh why P&C won't you draft my account like you promised!?!?!?!?! Did I offend you that much???? Do you not like me???? Did my neighbors say something to make you punish me???? 

I would be ever so pleased if you would please use the payment information you have stored in your system to renew this subscription. I would also humbly request you make several more attempts to notify me that you have called a truce and will now be sending me my paper in the driveway or on the grass or even sort of nearish to my yard so my husband can read the sports section and our normal life can resume. And I can drain my bacon in peace. 

Thank you.

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