Two years ago October I renewed my subscription to The New Yorker, a magazine I have been subscribing to as of last count, a million years. Two years ago I landed a very satisfying deal – a two-year renewal for $49.95. I figured:
Me: When my subscription is up for renewal again, by then the economy will be back on track, my salary will be better, and all will be right in the world. Sweet!
Two years later, everyone I know (myself included), as well as millions I don’t know (the 99) are all continuing to suffer as things continue to go very economically wrong in this world. Sucks! On top of that, my subscription to The New Yorker is again up for renewal and I was not getting offered any deals remotely comparable to what I got two years ago.
The blow-in card proclaiming that renewing for two years to the tune of $129.99 because that was “the best deal” outraged me.
The email they sent me to renew at $39.99 was disappointing.
I then did what I always do when searching for a bargain, I logged onto Amazon. Even Amazon let me down with their one-year renewal for $69.99 and two years for $99.99.
Resigned to the reality of these inflationary times, I decided that I would have to shell out $39.99. Before logging off, I decided to peruse the customer reviews when I read one written by “katehof” from Norfolk, Virginia.
“You might get a better deal by calling The New Yorker subsciption (sic) office directly: 800-825-2510. My mailed renewal notice price was $89.95/2 years, but they offered me $50/2 years when I called and spoke to a CSR.”
I called the number and got through to a customer service rep called Dana, but I suffered a brain freeze and called her Amanda, the name of Coco’s new assistant, who I have already called both Miranda and Penelope. This was almost as awkward as a business call I had two weeks ago with a very patient, polite and professional chap named Enrico, one of my company’s computer systems customer support specialists. As Enrico was helping me set up a monthly tile purchases report that my boss, Elsbeth, had been demanding for the better part of three years, I was multitasking.
I was reading my personal email.
My longtime friend, Martini Max, sent me a missive where he referred to me as “Bartelby”. Suddenly, Enrico went silent during our conversation. This struck me as odd and I wondered if we had been disconnected, until it dawned on me that I was now calling him Bartelby. This prompted me to stop reading my personal email, to ignore my momentary lapse into Demented-ville, and to immediately resume calling him Enrico.
While on the phone with Dana we had the following exchange:
Me: Can you provide me with a better renewal rate?
Dana: I can give you one year for $29.95 or two years for $39.95.
Me: If I tossed ten more bucks your way, would you give me three years for $49.95?
Dana: Hold on.
Short pause. Dana looks into the Orwellian computer system and discovers that I’ve practically been reading this magazine since birth.
Dana: Okay, you can have three years for $49.95.
Me: Wow, that’s great! Thanks!
That’s 141 issues at $5.99 each that would cost $844.59 off the newsstand, or 35 cents a copy delivered to my sanctum sanctorum via this thrifty renewal rate, provided that my marginally competent US Postal Service letter carrier can handle the assignment of delivering every issue. For a moment, I considered asking Dana if I paid $100 for my renewal, could I just have a lifetime subscription? Yet, I thought that might be pretentious. Instead I asked her:
Me: What happens if I die between now and then?
Dana paused. Apparently, that macabre question threw her for a loop. She was talking to a potential dead woman.
Dana: Let’s hope you don’t, but if you did, the remaining issues in your subscription can be transferred to someone else.
To me, that’s almost as good to know as that 1-800 number. Thank you katehof from Norfolk!
I’m sure there would be a lot of takers, but any chance you could will me the remaining issues of your subscription in the event of your unfortunate and untimely death? I can forward an address at your convenience.
I have to run that by Coco, Kathy. I already told her she gets all my toys and cameras and what remains of my subscription should I buy the farm before it runs out, but she’s an agreeable type so she might let you inherit the Conde Nast side of things.
Not that what you asked for was outrageous, but what I got from this is ask for whatever you want, and you just might get it.
You’ve got that right, at least when it comes to renewing a subsciption to The New Yorker, Edward.
Nice blog Bartelby!
I knew you’d appreciate the shout out about your unintended mischief-making, Max!
You are sooo funny. As a customer support rep, I can’t wait for the day that someone asks me what happens if they die. I better start thinking of a response now.
I would have thought you would have heard it all by now!
I LOVE it. I’ve experienced a similar situation with the New York Review of Books — renew for $69.95 or, after 25 unanswered renewal notices, $49.95. What worked best in this case was just not to renew. Until they sent me the “Oh, puleeeze” offer of $14.95. Now it’s time for renewal again. Opening bid, $49.95. I get “your subscription is about to run out” notices from magazines just after I’ve renewed. I get so confused I forget to renew. When I told this to the Atlantic CSR, she said, “Oh, O.K. We’ll send you only one near renewal time.” So far, they’ve kept their word.
Too bad long-time subscribers like us couldn’t hold off renewing our subscriptions for so long, the publishers would just relent and let us have our periodicals for free.