Car and Driver magazine sent Jim a real jerkoff collections notice, made all the more worse because his payment wasn’t even yet past due.
Being a Consumerist reader, he gave back as good as he got, and then some.
Their delicate pas de deux, inside. — BEN POPKEN
Car and Driver sent Jim this:
PAYMENT PAST DUE
Dear Jim Ounn:
Frankly, I’m surprised.
Although we have sent you two invoices we have not yet received your $12.00 Car and Driver renewal payment.
If there is a problem with your order, please use the reverse side of this form to let us know. I’ll see that the problem is resolved right away.
At your request, we have extended your current subscription by 15 issues. So please send us your check today. That way you won’t miss even one exciting issue of Car and Driver.
For Car and Driver
Jim wrote back:
Car and Driver
P.O. Box 51132
Boulder, CO 80322-1132
Dear Kurt Trumbour:
Frankly, I’m surprised.
Although I haven’t sent you any indication that I wanted to extend my subscription to Car and Driver, you send me a pseudo-dun for a payment, slugged PAYMENT PAST DUE in big, “embarrass the daddy in front of the kids” type at the head of the letter.
I’m surprised that a big organization like Hachette Fillipacchi Media thinks this type of strong-arm tactic is the best way to get and retain customers. Granted, my piddling little subscription barely pays the morning latte straw bill for just one of the HFM VP’s, but evidently, it’s a significant enough amount that you felt compelled to send me a snotty letter and address a 43-year-old man in the tone you would a teenager who’d been caught getting the correct spelling of “vulva” from his next-chair neighbor during an anatomy test.
I’m also surprised that you think I’ve renewed my subscription, when I’d done no such thing. I was planning on renewing, since I consider Car and Driver by far the best automotive publication extant, but those plans went out the door when I received this disdainful letter. The customer might not always be right, but he is the one who signs the check. Torque him off at your peril.
I’m also surprised that a media company like HFM, with tentacles in various and sundry places including the Internet, would think that someone aware of the grass-roots nature of the Internet wouldn’t forward this “You’ve been a bad boy” letter to sites like consumerist.com, which get thousands of hits each day from people just itching to find out which companies care about their customers, and which companies think “customer” is a synonym for “loser.”
So, frankly, here’s what I want you to do.
First: Spell my name correctly. It’s Jim Dunn, not Jim Ounn, as C&D has been spelling it.
Second: Immediately cease with the threatening letters over a renewal I didn’t request. In fact, unless it’s to contact me to apologize for the ridiculously overwrought scare letter you sent, do not ever send anything to my address again.
Third: DO NOT RENEW MY SUBSCRIPTION.
Fourth: Deliver the rest of the issues I have on my current subscription.
Fifth: I will be sending the letter you sent me to consumerist.com. Maybe they’ll post it, maybe they won’t. If they do, however, HFM’s bullying tactics will be there for all the Internet to see. One thing consumerist.com does is to post a company’s actions if they attempt to make amends for their error. If you should decide that my business and goodwill are important enough to contact me and try to regain my business, I’ll be glad to pass those subsequent make-up efforts along to consumerist.com.