Newspapers Just Don’t Get Why They Suck.

by Venomous Kate

Considering how internet-centric my life is, it may come as a surprise that I’m still a big fan of dead tree media. Magazines? I can’t get enough of them. Though I absolutely adore my Kindle for reading books, using the joystick button to navigate between headlines and sections of magazines or newspapers is a freaking pain in the neck.

Also, many of my most-loved magazines (National Geographic, Natural History, Smithsonian) have rich, delicious photographs that just don’t translate well on the Kindle. Sure, I could read them online but then there’s no satisfying tha-whick! when I flip pages like there is with the real thing (though I suppose I could just make that noise myself).

Point is: I’m not inherently biased against print media. If anything, I’m still a big fan… provided the publication’s print format offers something pleasurable, something that can’t be replicated online. When it comes to newspapers I just can’t think of one that’s not better enjoyed in its digital format. For one thing, reading a paper online means I don’t have to wash my hands when I’m finished. Also, I can sit down to read it whenever I’m ready, without having to first comb my hair, change out of my bunny slippers and grab a jacket to hide the fact that I’m still in pajamas at 11 a.m. as I shuffle to the driveway to hunt for today’s issue where, invariably, one of my neighbors will see me.

Even with all of that hassle to go through to get my paper, I’d stayed a weekend subscriber until this morning. That’s when, confronted with 6 unread papers still soggy in their plastic bags, I realized I’ve just been wasting money because I’m not reading the things. And the truth is, I hadn’t subscribed to actually read them, anyway: I subscribed so I could get the Sunday coupons, the savings from which easily covered the cost of the paper plus another $12 or so per week.

Until my husband took over the grocery shopping again, that is.

Back when that chore was mine I’d spend a couple of hours or so every Sunday combing the coupons, clipping out the relevant ones, cross-referencing them with the sale flyers from our local grocery stores, compiling a store-by-store shopping list based on where coupons and sales would give us maximum savings, and then I’d spend a full afternoon running from one market to another until I’d picked up everything on our master grocery list for the week.

Yes, it was as much of a pain in the ass as it sounds, but at the end of the day I could shake my wad of receipts in my husband’s face and say, “Look how much money I saved!” Of course, I never managed to have a wad of cash equivalent to our savings to show him because a day like that was invariably capped off by a trip to the liquor store where I spent every penny we’d saved… and then some.

So, today I called the newspaper to cancel my subscription. That, too, was a pain in the ass because, like many businesses’ customer service departments these days, our paper doesn’t get the service part… particularly when you’re about to stop being a customer. The conversation went something like this:

VK: “I’d like to cancel my subscription effective as of today.”

Rep: “I’d be happy to help you do that. May I ask why?”

VK: “I don’t read the paper. I’m not interested in reading the paper. I only subscribed for the coupons, and my husband won’t use them. So it’s a waste of my money.”

Rep: “Well, then, you understand you could be saving (some outrageous amount of money) every week with the Sunday coupons, right?”

VK: “No I can’t. See, you’re assuming I’m going to use every single coupon which, even if I still did the grocery shopping wouldn’t be the case.”

Rep: “Okay, maybe not quite that much but, still, you could still be saving money with coupons each week.”

VK: “Except I don’t do the shopping anymore. My husband does, and he won’t use coupons. Period.”

Rep: “Does he know he could be saving money?”

VK: “Yes, though I sometimes suspect he’s not a very smart man that, at least, is something even he can understand. He just won’t use them. So, cancel my subscription, okay?”

Rep: “So why don’t you do the shopping yourself?”

VK: “It’s none of YOUR business why I don’t do the shopping anymore, okay? Cancel my subscription!”

Rep: “I’m just saying that if you did the shopping and used coupons you could save money every week. With this economy it seems like doing the shopping so you could save money with coupons is a small effort that can really pay off.”

VK: “Do you even realize what you’re saying? Basically, you’re trying to convince me to subscribe to weekly delivery of coupons! Not the paper itself — which I’ve noticed you haven’t mentioned at all — but just the coupons. And on TOP of that you want me to rearrange my life and my household routines so we can use those coupons which, obviously, we aren’t that interested in or we’d be using? Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds?”

Rep: (Pause) “Okay, ma’am. I’ll process this cancellation. Now, would you mind completing a survey about whether you found the coupons in the Sunday paper a good value?”

VK: “AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGH!” (*click*)

6 Responses to “Newspapers Just Don’t Get Why They Suck.”

  1. Well, if you ever return to doing the shopping again or VH decides to take up the sport, there are coupons availble for local markets on line. But, of course you knew that.

  2. Oh yeah, I’m sure I’ve talked to the same rep.

  3. ah yes much like trying to cancel AOL 15 or 20 years ago they just would not take no for a answer

  4. I prefer the newspaper to reading a newspaper site online because their interfaces are awful. A smattering of headlines, a bunch of Flash PointRoll ads popping out all over the place, maybe one of those annoying Flash people popping up on the corner of the screen. And if I see a headline I like, I can click over to a page full of Flash crap to read the first paragraph and decide it’s not that interesting after all, so I click back to the list of headlines and Flash crap, which loads slowly.

    Oh, and then there are the forced refreshes while I am trying to read something.

    Thanks, but now that I’m in a region where the daily doesn’t suck (Springfield), I take the paper again. Two dailies and one weekly, in fact.

  5. I hate the flash-based sites, too, so I usually read the mobile edition even when I’m not reading the news on my iPhone. I’ve just become so reliant on hyperlinks and the ability to open another tab to Google for more information.

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