This week we finally gave up on the LA Times. It had nothing to do with the cutbacks, although we have noticed how thin the paper has gotten. It had everything to do with the fact the circulation department, or what passes for it these days, couldn't manage to deliver it.
If it seems to you that we should be the last people who should be canceling their daily newspaper, you would not be mistaken. And we have replaced it, for the time being, with the Long Beach Press-Telegram (a shell of its former self, but that's another post).
If you were to look at our delivery records, you would find that at least twice a week we would call for a replacement paper because someone had stolen ours. The circulation department seemed not to notice the unusually high replacement rate. And oftentimes, the replacement paper wouldn't come, either.
I got fed up a few weeks ago and asked to cancel. The rep apologized, and asked if I would be willing to give them another chance. They would deliver the paper in plastic with my apartment number on it. I agreed. The next day, the paper came wrapped in plastic with my apartment number on it. But that was the last time.
Two weeks more of spotty service, more annoyance and another phone call. Would we be willing to give them another chance? No, I said. I gave you a chance. They suggested it was my fault because I live in an apartment, and they couldn't deliver to my door. I told them if their delivery agent purchased a key, then all the subscribers in our building could have the paper delivered to their door, thus solving the problem of stolen papers. (I discovered during this process that my paper was not the only one to disappear). The rep asked if a supervisor could call me, and noted the problems in my file, recounting back to me the troubles I'd had.
I didn't want to cancel the paper. How can I tell people they need to continue to support print papers if I cancel? So I agreed, again.
The supervisor never called, the paper arrived sporadically, and when only half of the Sunday paper arrived this week (clearly someone had picked through it) we gave up.
I called yesterday to cancel the paper. The rep asked if I would give them another chance. I said no. He asked if there was anything they could do to keep me and I said no -- all I wanted was to get the paper I was paying for.
We didn't ask for a discount, or for our money back for papers we didn't receive. We didn't ask for a special deal or special treatment. All we wanted was the paper. A seemingly simple request.
Maybe it's not so much that nobody wants the paper, but that nobody can actually get it.
And by the way -- our Press-Telegram arrives at our door every morning, wrapped in plastic.