I have been in love with newspapers my whole life. For eight years, I shared my breakfast table with the New York Times. It's always been there, waiting on my driveway until I wake up enough to be able to absorb its thoughtful news stories, art reviews, opinions and, after a cup of coffee, its crossword puzzle. The other day, I divorced myself from the Times forever. And, I have to say, I'm glad it's over -- even though I admit I'll miss that old Grey Lady. The end of my ill-fated love affair with the Times started innocently enough earlier this month.
Since I love the Times so much, I decided I would share the joy of "all the news that's fit to print" with my parents. As a Christmas present, I ordered a subscription for my mother and father, who live in another city.
On December 1, I went online to the www.nytimes.com, gave them my credit card and entered my parents' address. There was nothing to indicate when the new subscription would start, so I told my mother to call me if she didn't get a paper by December 6. She received nothing, not even an e-mail confirming the order. (I had provided my mother's e-mail address and phone number as the primary contact.)
A little chagrined, I called the New York Times. The customer service clerk said the subscription was there but wasn't scheduled to start until December 10. I was a little surprised it would take nine days to start a new subscription, but so be it.
"I'm very sorry you were treated this way. At the New York Times, we pride ourselves on our customer service."
No newspaper arrived on December 10.
I called the Times again on December 10. This time, I started taking names. Jill told me the computer showed the subscription was supposed to start on December 14. She didn't know anything about a December 10 start date. OK. I told her I was getting very impatient, and if my parents didn't get a paper on December 14, the Times would lose not just one (my parents), but two subscribers (plus myself). Jill assured me she was sending a note to the carrier, and the subscription would start on time.
Come December 14, no paper.
The next day, I called the Times again, and this time spoke to Tara, who said the subscription was scheduled to start on the 18th. I told her, "No." Jill had said December 14. Tara admitted she could see where Jill had sent a note to the carrier to start on December 14, but she couldn't explain why that didn't happen. I asked her if my parents could get a "missed paper" delivered that day. She said she would put the order in, and a paper would be delivered between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. I asked if she could call the carrier and confirm. She said she would get in trouble if she did that. I reminded her she was already in trouble.