So often, complaining is not a virtue, and in fact will make you one unpopular puppy. Done right, however, it can have its rewards. Here is the lesson for today.
Unlike more and more people these days, I am a regular and faithful reader of my local daily newspaper, which is the Boston Globe
(I hear rumors that there's another paper around here, but I haven't been able to prove it), and have been for practically ever. I got the Globe delivered when I was in college. I missed it when I lived in North Carolina; the Observer
isn't a bad paper, but it's no Globe. When I was planning my move last Fall, one of the items on my address change list was "Globe". I notified them of my new address, and they started delivering to my new address.
The Globe has not just a delivery policy
, but a guarantee
: delivery Monday through Friday by 6:00. This works very well for me, because that's just when I'm getting up to have breakfast, before showering and getting ready to leave for work. I want to read the paper in the morning, when I'm not completely awake, so the bad news doesn't bother me quite as much as it otherwise would.
I can't easily move my schedule order, either, because once I'm dressed for work, there's no sitting down Chez Cat Hair: not without booking a session with the lint brush, anyway. Therefore, I'm pretty much "shower dress and out the door". So I get up, eat my breakfast in my PJs, with the newspaper, then get ready and go.With the newspaper
. When the newspaper is delivered by 6, or even 6:15, I'm okay, but when it's 6:30 or 6:45 or 7:00, I'm in trouble. I'm running late, or only reading part of the paper, or bringing it to read at lunch, when I'm more awake and
it cuts into knitting time: this is all bad.
I didn't complain for a while. I'm a nice person, plus I was too busy to worry about it, having just moved. But finally it got on my nerves enough that I e-mailed the Globe, in March, to confirm that the paper was supposed to be delivered by 6 (as I was pretty sure it was), and to ask them to work with the carrier.
I e-mailed because I like having a record of when I contacted a service provider, plus it meant I didn't have to negotiate one of those voice mail mazes that always seem designed to drive you nuts before you even get to the point where you have to wait forever:
Thank you for calling Newspapers Conglomerated Incorporated. Your call is very important to us. Please listen to the following options carefully, as our menus have changed.
To reach accounting, press one.
To reach finance, press two.
To reach marketing, press three.
To reach accounting, press four.
To suggest a business story, press five.
To suggest a local story, press six.
To suggest a sports story, press seven.
To complain about our liberal bias, press eight.
To complain about Mike Barnicle's column, even though he doesn't write for the Globe anymore, press nine.
To hear more options, press pound 2 0 0 5 while humming "Buckner", crossing your fingers, and spitting over your left shoulder.
And the other reason I like e-mail, of course, is the quick response. So, when I hadn't heard from the Globe six days
later, I fired off another e-mail asking if they were ever going to answer me. The next day, they answered--the first e-mail--saying that they had "passed along (my) concern to the local branch" and that, yes, 6:00 was the guaranteed delivery time. Five days later, they answered the second e-mail--the same way.
The delivery didn't change.
(Are you wondering yet why the newspaper industry is perplexed that they're having trouble keeping readers?)
I called. I talked to a really nice man who said that he could call and tell the local office of my concern, but that he couldn't guarantee when things would change (he earned points for honesty, at least). He did give me the number of the local office if I wanted to talk to them myself, so I considered that. But in the end what I decided was this:
Calling them once to say that my paper was late every day did not seem to compute, so perhaps the reverse would work: that is, calling every day, every single time that it was late.
After I got back from my trip to my grandmother's last month, I started to call every morning if the paper wasn't there by 6:15 to report a missed delivery. After a few days, a few calls, I started to get messages from the local office asking me to call them instead of the Globe's number if I was having problems. Progress! Even calls on days when I didn't call, to check on delivery. Interesting! I was getting through.
And the final results? Now, I did have those alarm-clock-failure days last week, when I got up after 7. I can't swear to delivery times on those days. Otherwise, though, I have not had a late delivery since May 2nd. It was late April 24th, April 27th, and May 2nd, and not since.
I actually reported it missed one other day, when it turned out it had
been delivered, but one of my neighbors brought it in out of the pouring rain, so I thought it hadn't come (I can see the porch from my window, which saves me going downstairs before it's delivered). I think that really freaked the delivery guy out (I can imagine him: "I did deliver it! I did!"). I might feel worse about that if he hadn't been annoying me for months.
Later that week someone called one morning from the local office and told me the driver wanted me to know that the paper was there. I said I knew, I had already read it, and she said well, he just wanted me to know.
Thus endeth the lesson for today.