Monday, November 30, 2009

Goodbye Mercury News

Newspapers can't go away quick enough. I blogged about the newspapers recently, but I was speaking merely as an indifferent party at the time. I don't read the paper, and so I don't really care if they survive or perish. Now I have a strong opinion. I want them to go away, and I want them to go away soon. Well, this isn't entirely fair, because I'm basing this strong hatred on the actions of a single particular paper... the San Jose Mercury News. Presumably not all papers act in such sleazy, annoying manners, but any that do... I hope they disappear tomorrow. Scratch that, I hope any business at all that acts this way perishes tomorrow.

Ok, enough teasing. Rewind a few months. My doorbell rang, and I went and looked out the peephole. There was a strange kid... and I foolishly opened the door. It was a kid going door to door selling subscriptions to the San Jose Mercury News in an effort to get help going to college. I had actually helped a kid doing the same thing a year or two before, and I didn't mind helping this kid too. The last time I had given cash, but this time I was out. Then, I made my second mistake... I paid with a check. The kid needed my phone number, supposedly so the Mercury News could verify I was indeed helping him out. I reluctantly gave him my number... my third mistake. Somehow, I knew I was making a mistake, and immediately wished I had just closed the door on him. I had half a mind to call him back and write a new check out to him, and let him cash it and keep it, or buy a paper for his school or something. I indicated I didn't actually want the paper, and that he could give it away... I think he ended up giving it to a neighbor nextdoor that wasn't home.

Fast forward back to present time. The whole thing ended up being a scam. I'm sure the kid got some help from the Mercury News towards college, but at the cost of the Mercury News getting my phone number. I got a call shortly after the subscription ended with a request to resubscribe. Damn are they aggressive when calling! It took a few minutes for me to dash her confidence and finally end the call. I thought that was that, but have since received at least two more calls, one coming just this last Saturday. A holiday weekend no less! I would think they would stop calling if I emphatically tell them I am not interested, and even explicitly say I have never read the newspaper, and never intend to. I guess I'm just a number in a big list of possible sources of revenue now. Next time I guess I just need to tell them to make sure I'm off their list. And the next time some poor kid is going door to door selling San Jose Mercury News? Sorry! I will send 'em packing. I don't mind helping a kid go to college, but not if it is just to get my number on a list to cold call every other month.

I think I walked away with another lesson on how to treat your customers. If you might be bugging them, stop and reconsider what you are doing. Your sources of revenue should be from people that love what you are doing for them, not people so annoyed by you that they buy your product just to shut you up. It's definitely a no no to set up a faux charity just to turn around and annoy the contributers.

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