The newspaper industry is hurting. Circulation is in a long-term downward trend for almost all major newspapers. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recognizes the problem and has a unique solution.
The solution is to cut back on customer service. Antagonize the customer in any ways possible and let them know they are unimportant.
Sounds insane, doesn’t it? But that’s what’s happening.
When my wife and I go out of town, we always call to stop the paper until we return. We used to talk to a live person when we did that, but, of course, it’s become de rigeur for all businesses to impersonalize everything as much as possible, so for several years now, we’ve had to press ‘one’ for this and ‘two’ for that in order to get it stopped.
Although impersonal, the system worked. They would stop delivery until the date we told them to restart, and they would credit our account for the cost of the days missed.
Sometime recently, they stopped this with no announcement. When we returned home from a weekend trip, we found three papers scattered on our porch, so my wife called the newspaper office. After several attempts, she managed to get through to a live person, who told her our only options now are either to have them saved and delivered when we get home or donate them to some program of theirs. Since she had not chosen either option, they ignored the stop.
They have a special aggravation for crossword and anagram users. They print them on page two of a section, so that the reader is forced to refold the paper to work them. I don’t know about you, but I can’t fold them exactly along the crease, so I end up with the paper all antigoggling.
It would be so easy to put them on page three so we could just slip that part of the paper out of the section, or—even better—on the back page, where they could be accessed without any problem, but they won’t do it. I’ve talked to the Senior VP/Executive Editor, a man named Dim—oops, Jim—Witt, and his attitude is basically that of Marie Antoinette who, when told the peasants didn’t have enough bread to eat, said, “Let them eat cake.” He made it clear that he was not concerned with the convenience of his customers.
I guess these people are all hoping the whole industry will go broke so they will lose their jobs and can draw unemployment or welfare or something.
What insane experiences have you had with your local newspaper or with other companies intent on cutting their own noses off to spite their faces?
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