Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Customer Experience Story. But One of the Better Kind.

We've been getting two daily newspapers for several years now. One is the local rag that we use for around town news and events that we may be interested in such as local auctions, house showings, cultural events, etc. The second newspaper was the state rag that I used more for national and statewide news. However, since we are so far out in the boondocks of rural Iowa, the national news that reached us was a couple days old and in the age of modern updates via email and the web, it was getting to be irrelevant. So after talking about it and doing our part to cut back on expenses some just in case this economic crisis gets way more serious than they believe, we decided to axe our state rag subscription though not completely. The Sunday paper usually consists of the highlights from the past week and goes more in depth about the events than the daily print, short on space, ever could. Plus our local rag only delivers on the weekdays and the Sunday paper would fill that gap.

So I called up the state rag circulation department and after wading through ten minutes of voice actuated menus so everyone in the office thought I was talking to myself and possibly clinically insane, I got through to an extremely accented voice which with large amounts of interpretation sounded like he was asking me to hold. I said okay and there was a click. I covered the mouthpiece and leaned over so I could see my neighbor in the office across the way and said something like "Yes! I got someone who can't speak English!"

A few seconds later the heavily accented voice comes back on the line though suddenly the voice was a lot more intelligible as he said, "I assure you sure that I can speak English perfectly well, may I have your account number?"

I very nearly hung up right then thinking that now that I had insulted the guy, my chances of good service were now somewhere between "no way" and "hell freezing over." But I didn't. I gave him my account number and within 30 seconds, he said he would take care of my subscription, canceling the weekday and adding the balance to the Sunday paper only service effective at the end of the week. He bid me a good day.

The end of the week came and an entire other week went by and still the daily newspaper showed up somewhere on my lawn. On a side note, I always have to go through a several week battle when ever a new carrier starts our route to train him that somewhere on my lawn, roof, snow drift, street or flowerbed are not acceptable delivery spots and that I prefer it somewhere on my expansive front desk that even a paraplegic could hit from the street while wheel chairing by at 50 miles per hour. We evidently had a new carrier and for the last month, I couldn't get my paper in the dark before going to work simply because I couldn't find it and had to wait until I got home to see where he had tossed it this time. This also played a part in the timing of why we decided to finally cancel the daily paper. On another side note, we've never had a problem with the Sunday paper simply because it is too heavy to throw from the street.

So side notes aside, I called the newspaper circulation desk again just to make sure the accented guy from my previous call hadn't decided to just screw me over due to my rudeness even if it was the truth. He hadn't and the lady assured me that she would take care of the problems.

Another week goes by with a newspaper and another phone call.
Another week goes by with a newspaper and another phone call.
Another week goes by with a newspaper and another phone call.

No those weren't typos. Four and a half weeks after I called and cancelled my paper immediately, I kept finding papers here and there on my lawn, soggy with rain, buried under the leaves that hadn't already blown down the street and generally giving my house an unkept appearance. I was beginning to wonder what a guy had to do to stop the newspaper carrier from delivering a paper. Then this past Monday afternoon after I got home from work, there was no newspaper. I assumed I had missed it on the roof or the flowerbed but by yesterday, it was still absent. Now if I just continue to get the Sunday paper, I will be happy.

But my story, long as it is already, doesn't end there. For some unexplained reason, my local rag that gets delivered by a nice girl about 4:30 every afternoon while I am at home, kept getting delivered but the previous days edition would also be waiting for me when I got home. Who delivered this and why? I don't know. Concerned that someone was delivering the wrong route and because I just got through canceling the state rag which was already a day late in the news, I didn't need a local rag a day late in the news either especially when I had read it the night before. So I called up the office and explained the situation. They said they would look into it and figure it all out. I know they will be more prompt since I work with the husband of the circulation department and thus know the lady of the circulation department quite well. What a bizarre world.


sage said...

Oh yes, isn't it embarressing when people overhear our remarks!

R. Sherman said...

I learned (the hard way) to apply the carpentry adage of "measure twice, cut once" to my comments: "think twice, speak once, if at all."


Beau said...

The newspapers are desparate for customers in many areas- we cancelled ours too this year, and not a week goes by that they don't call and make some special offer. But at least they got it right the first week we asked. I'm thinking of subscribing again to have something to start the wood burning in the stove! And I like that "Think twice, speak once!" adage from R.

The Real Mother Hen said...

I get my news from the Internet.
I get my comics and coupons from the local paper.
I get my events/happenings from... gossip? ;)
I get my weather forecast from... nobody, just stick my thumb up in the air!

Ed Abbey said...

Sage - Fortunately it doesn't happen too often to me.

R. Sherman - Excellent advice.

Beau - I've heard that too. It's no wonder they are hurting if they rely on the people I've been getting to deliver my paper. When I have to get a ladder to get my paper, something is wrong!

Mother Hen - Me too.

All - I guess the sage isn't over. After being gone for the last few days, I picked up four newspapers out of my lawn, flowerbed and driveway tonight when I got home.