You Want Your Paper? Please Hold. . . .
On Nov. 16 I encountered a gray-haired gentleman in a business suit in the Bel Air Giant grocery store. He was trying to sell me a subscription to The Aegis, the bi-weekly community paper of Harford County. He looked like the publisher, not a contract salesman on peanuts commission. The deal: a six-month sub, with the Sunday Sun thrown in–discounted to $10: $20 in cash minus a $10 Giant gift card. The Sunday coupons alone will more than pay for your subscription, the salesman repeatedly promised. Moved by his plight, I bought.
But the paper didn’t come, so I called to find out what was going on. “We do have a lot of these orders, we’re backed up on entering those,” Shirley at The Aegis tells me in a phone message.
To get to Shirley, however, I had to run through the nine circles of stupid that is the Sun circulation department. Newspapers are in trouble everywhere; poor systems for maintaining customer satisfaction just might be a factor.
I began my quest by calling the phone number included on my money-back guarantee card: 1-888-539-1280.
The first try was busy. Next try got an automated menu. As always, no menu item for my problem. Minutes later I reached Jen, who after a minute of back and forth told me I was not in their system. Her phone cut off before we finished.
I called back and again got in the busy auto-call queue. This time Joe informed me that he was very sorry, I would have to call The Aegis (which is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Sun). He gave me that number, and I ended up on hold for a few minutes before rolling over to Shirley’s voice mail.
Shirley returned my call about two hours later, leaving me a voice mail.
I returned Shirley’s call today. She sounds cheerful–especially given the circumstances.
“We were never expecting the influx,” she says. “Every third day [during the promotion] an envelope came in with at least 100 orders in it. It’s way too much.”
Turns out Shirley’s job is to type in all the new subscriber information, including credit card info and everything, in addition to handling lots of the usual complaints–my paper is wet, etc.–plus the influx of complaints from new subscribers who expected to get their papers a week or two after they signed up. Also, she was out for a week on sick leave. The Aegis did not hire anyone to deal with all the new subscribers it got, and so its promise of service in seven to 10 days has stretched to–in my case–23 days and counting.
Shirley promises I’ll get my first issue in another week.
The Sunday Sun, however, will take two weeks, Shirley advises: “they’re always a week later.”