Last Remaining Human Who Actually Wants To Subscribe To A Newspaper Can't

Meet Michael. He likes to read the newspaper. Sadly, his attempts to resubscribe to the Washington Post have resulted in abject failure. Hmm, we thought that newspapers were sort of hurting for subscribers…

Michael says:

I will try to keep my 4-week ordeal to try to get the Washington Post to actually deliver me a Sunday paper – for which I am willing to pay – as short as possible:

In 2008, my wife and I had a 7-day subscription to the Washington Post. We liked to read parts of the paper in the morning, and I loved to read the whole Saturday and Sunday papers. In January we had our first baby, and I cancelled my subscription in March, having not read a single word in 2 months (sorry, environment). I received a final invoice for $8.37, and promptly paid.

Flash-forward to September, when we have a little more time to relax on the weekends, and decide to get the paper again. The Post’s on-line subscription sign-up system is broken, so I called them up. The helpful operator recommends that we simply re-start my old subscription but only on Sundays. I will receive a bill shortly, and my first paper is supposed to arrive that Sunday. However,
at around noon on Sunday, I realized I didn’t get my paper (I forgot it was coming). I went on-line and filled out the form asking for a replacement – it never arrived. So, I called the Post. I was told that the distributor for my county didn’t get the message that I had paid the $8.37 bill in March, so he wouldn’t deliver the paper. They promised to call the distributor and that a paper would be delivered the following Sunday.

The next Sunday – same exact story (except I remembered to look for it first thing in the morning). Again – promises that it was a simple communications mix-up that will be fixed immediately. The next Sunday (3rd in a row) – still no freaking paper! I called AGAIN – only to hear the same story again, but this time with a *twist*. The operator told me that she would have the distributor call me personally to explain his mistake. Ha ha – I explained to her that I had already wasted a lot of my time on the phone fixing this – I don’t want to talk to their distributor – that is the Post’s job. She then said that I would get my paper the next week (yesterday) with a note from the distributor explaining the problem.

My wife and I bet $5 on whether we would have a paper this week – I won. When I called, I found out that there were now two reasons I wasn’t getting a paper – and neither involved the $8.37. Now the distributor/Post was telling me that I owed $3.00 for the papers I “received” in September 2009, and another $1.83 for a few papers I received after I paid the $8.37 in March. Amazing. I patiently explained that I can only pay bills that I receive – I can’t pay magic bills that are never actually created. After also explaining (again) that I have NEVER RECEIVED A PAPER SINCE RE-SUBSCRIBING, I am not paying the $3 the distributor says I owe. Eventually, after 25 minutes on the phone, including 15 on hold various times, she credited me the $3 and we reached a mutually-acceptable solution to the $1.83 which would allow me to get a paper this coming Sunday.

Now, I know what you are thinking – who still gets a paper? Well, I like reading an actual paper on Sunday mornings – I spend enough time staring at a computer all week (and, FYI, I am only 36 – not a ” grumpy old man,” although my wife would classify me as grumpy, I suppose). I mentioned a number of times to the numerous people at the Post who I spoke to that I was trying to buy their product and that they were doing everything they could to prevent me from doing so. Add this to the growing list of reasons that they say newspapers won’t last too much longer…incompetence.

Now, we know Michael isn’t technically the last person alive who wants to read an actual paper — but the consumer base is certainly not growing rapidly. Perhaps they should get their act together.


Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.