Every time the Wall Street Journal opines about the incompetence of government, and how they would fix it, I get a chuckle. That’s because, two days out of six, the Wall Street Journal can’t seem to deliver my newspaper, which would seem to be a) directly related to their core business, and b) a lot simpler than, say, providing security and health care and disaster relief and postal services and on and on to more than 320 million people.
I’ve been fighting this fight with the WSJ for about two years now. All I want is my newspaper. Largely so I can learn things, partly so that I can partake in viewpoints that differ from mine, and somewhat so I can seethe. In many ways, it’s a fine newspaper, stuffed with content every day as newspapers once were. On the weekends, the arts coverage is thrilling. But I’m old-fashioned in this way: If I’m paying for a newspaper’s arrival six times a week, I actually expect to get it six times a week. Not five. Or four.
I have wondered if my newspaper is getting stolen now and then. I don’t think so — who else wants to read newspapers, let alone in print, these days? Statistically no one. But even if it were getting stolen, the situation would be easily corrected by throwing the bagged newspaper past the locked gate that fronts my office. I have reminded “customer (dis)service)” of this many times. In fact, I’ve been emailing and calling and live-chatting with “customer service” for months. (And, yes, I’ve emailed higher-ups.) As someone who is a partner in a marketing agency, I have an understanding of how the WSJ is monetizing my readership, and it’s not primarily through my subscription fee; I’m a desirable demographic for many of their advertisers. You’d think they’d want to keep me. But they don’t seem to care, and they are immune to input — which are, by the way, precisely the complaints they make about others, most notably the federal government.
On Saturday, my newspaper again didn’t arrive. I live-chatted with someone in “customer service” and said that the next time my newspaper didn’t arrive, I would be canceling. She apologized profusely, extended my subscription by two weeks, and told me she’d alerted people higher-up, as well as the local delivery office. (This is the same thing they say every time.) Yesterday, the paper didn’t arrive, so I went online to cancel. Whereupon I learned that you can’t cancel online — you have to call them to cancel. This smelled to me like a retention effort, but I was thrilled to speak with a live person to voice my displeasure again. I reiterated that I don’t have any complaint with the WSJ — except its support of jingoistic invasions of countries that don’t attack us, and, well, more than half of its editorial positions, but that goes with the territory — and that truly I just want to get what I’m paying for. But that now, as promised, I was canceling. She heard me out, heard that there was no turning me around, so she canceled my subscription and said I would be getting a refund. So: great. Canceled. Now I’m not getting what I did want but wasn’t getting. No more subscription.
Then, this morning, just now, they delivered today’s paper to my doorstep.
Now I’m waiting to see how much longer they’ll be delivering it without charging me.
Is this any way to run a newspaper? (Or a government?)