Our local newspaper and I have been at odds for months now. It has nothing to do with delivery...our carrier is dependable and while it arrives later than it used to now that it's printed in Mobile, it still there in a timely manner. Nor is the source of our contention the content, although I certainly could argue for more of it. Sadly, that's the state of all print media these days...not enough advertising dollars coming in to support more of what we all subscribe for.
Nope, none of those. The root of the problem in the bill or, in this case, the lack thereof. They don't send them. At all.
It all started four or five months ago when the subscription was about to expire and the customer service representative called wanting an updated credit card number. We had regularly paid the invoice online but the credit card we had used on the previous renewal had been compromised and cancelled. Send me a bill, I said, and I'll pay it, either with a credit card online or by sending a check.
I thought it was a reasonable request. We get e-bills for things like power and phone that fall under the heading of Necessities; why wouldn't I get a bill for something discretionary like a newspaper? Besides, sometimes I pay for six months and sometimes I pay for a year; I like options. No problem, was always the reply; we'll get a bill right out to you. And it never came.
Every few days, the phone would ring again and a different customer service representative would be on the other end and we'd have the same conversation. They'd want a credit card number; I'd want a bill. They'd promise to send one; it would never appear. You'd think after a dozen such conversations (and that is not an exaggeration) they'd get the message but it didn't happen. By the time we reached the end of the subscription period, my patience was exhausted and I was fine with letting it lapse.
But the paper was such a part of our morning routine that we missed it. I'm not sure that we really missed any news as the paper isn't our only source of local information but we missed flipping through the pages over breakfast, reading the comics, and seeing the local golf results. We'd buy the Sunday paper at the new stand but Monday through Saturday were paper-free insofar as local print was concerned.
Then we started getting promotions to resubscribe...with a discount, of course. I could write a whole other blog post on how loyalty is penalized by having to pay more while new customers are rewarded for signing up. And it isn't just newspapers...it's everything, it seems. But that's another day.
So I called to inquire about the most recent offer, asking again about billing and payment. They don't bill...period. You have two choices: A charge on your credit card every month or a draft against your bank account every month. You can't write them a check or pay in cash even if you wanted to. It's credit card or bank draft period. End of story.
They win, I lose. I handed over my credit card information and the paper was resting comfortably in the middle of my driveway when I went outside this morning. The only consolation is it's half-price for the next few months. And while I may not like the payment arrangements, I certainly enjoyed lingering over that black-and-white bundle of words this morning.