Monday, April 27, 2009

Memoirs from Customer Service: The Fish Wrap

For a few years now we've technically been a Sunday-Only subscriber to the Oregonian. I say "technically" because for most of that time we have also received the daily paper - but we didn't pay for it.

Newspaper publishers generate most of their revenue from advertising. Advertising rates are based on circulation. The larger the circulation, the more advertising revenue a publisher can command in the marketplace. 

A long time ago we called to order the Sunday paper. That's the one stuffed full of ads - the most important issue of the week for the publisher's bottom line, by far. After a week or two someone from the Oregonian would call our home and offer a "free" eight-week trial of the daily paper, because we were "valued customers". At the end of the eight weeks, the Oregonian would continue delivering the daily papers and attempt to charge us for them, at which point I would call them and cancel all but the Sunday-Only delivery.

A couple of weeks later they would call again with a similar offer. Each time I would tell them that I didn't want the daily paper, that I didn't read it, but if they insisted I would accept their free offer to help them increase their circulation. My most recent offer was for one full year of the daily edition, free with my Sunday-Only subscription.

Then came the price increase.

We received a letter stating that the price of our Sunday-Only package would increase by 50%. I called up Customer Service.


Oregonian: Thank you for calling The Oregonian. Is the number you're calling from the same number on your account?

Ducheznee: Yes.

O: And how can I help you today Ducheznee?

D: I received a notice that the price of my Sunday-Only delivery is increasing.

O: Yes, sir. We've been absorbing increased operating expenses for quite some time and we simply cannot do that any longer.

[That's a blatant lie. Everyone knows that newspapers all over the country are suffering.]

D: Oh, that's okay. I'd just like to cancel my subscription.

O: Because of the price increase?

D: Well, yes and no. I only subscribe to the Sunday paper to get the Fred Meyer ad. The rest of the paper goes straight into the recycle bin. I was willing to pay the old price for the convenience of having that ad delivered to my home each week, but I'm not willing to pay your new price. It is no longer worth it to me.

O: Well what about the daily edition?

D: I've never subscribed to your daily edition. You guys have been giving me a free daily paper for nearly seven years. I do not want it and I don't read it. I just recycle it. If I need any news I can find it on the Internet a full day sooner than you can put it in my tube.

O: I'll go ahead and cancel your subscription effective immediately. I just want to clarify that you will no longer receive the daily OR the Sunday paper delivered to your home.

D: Thank you. You don't by chance have a Fred Meyer ad-only package, do you?

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