getting what you pay for

Getting What You Pay For!!!

This is not one of my regular Tech Tip posts and really has nothing at all to do with technology. It does have to do with another business process that I feel is the most important thing of all – Exellent Customer Service or in this case, the lack of it.

 I’ve been an avid fan and subscriber of a magazine called “Birds and Blooms” for many years. Pam and I enjoy the backyard articles and especially the high resolution pictures of flowers and birds from around our great country.

I’m not writing this article to try and convince you to subscribe to the magazine – my intent is to share with you what I consider a failing of customer service and relationship building that Birds and Blooms seems to think is not a problem.

In this month’s plastic encased edition of the magazine, there were the normal “blow in” postcards trying to get you to re-subscribe, buy something extra and any number of promotional offers that always seem to fall out and just get in the way. I guess this is a proven marketing program otherwise why would so many magazine publishers continue to utilize it. Personally, this stuff is simply a pain and gets recycled with little fanfare.

In this issue there was also a 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper that started off with:

“Dear Subscriber,

“We are pleased to present you with this very special, bigger-than-ever September issue.

Each issue of Birds and Blooms we create is a labor of love. And the magazine you hold right now is no exception. We’ve had more fun than ever putting this greatly expanded “Fall Gardening” edition just for subscribers like you.”  blah, blah, blah…..

Sounds like just another, all too common, marketing letter unless you read the whole thing. Perhaps I was bored or something as I would normally have already sent this piece to the recycling bin. Instead I continued to read it through to the end.

To my surprise, a few more paragraphs in, here’s the “reason” for the letter. 

“This edition is so big, in fact, that we are treating is as a special issue that will count toward two of your subscriber issues, so the duration of your subscription will be adjusted accordingly.”

WHAT – did I actually just read that because they made this month’s issue larger, my paid in full subscription period was going to be cut back by one issue???

I wonder – is this even legal? In my opinion, it shouldn’t be and it’s most certainly not an ethical way to treat loyal subscribers of their magazine. How would this type situation play out in other industries? I wonder how MY clients would react if I attempted the same thing with their monthly ProWatch subscription?

To that end, it appears that Birds and Blooms also had some reservations with this action because they added this line:

“We hope you’ll agree that it is well worth it. But, if for any reason you are not completely satisfied, please call us at xxx-xxx-xxx, email us at customercare@, or write us at Birds and Blooms Customer Service…..” and we’ll be happy to credit your subscription. Thank you. Its loyal customers like you who make our magazine so successful.”

What do you think? Do they REALLY appreciate their loyal customers like me pulling a stunt like this? How many other subscribers didn’t take the time to read what looks like just another marketing piece and will suffer a shortened subscription period that’s was already paid in full for the original duration.  How many of you regularily check how many months might be left on your magazine subscriptions. I don’t check the label every month as I know I can count on the publisher to start bugging me with renewal notices 6-7 months prior to the end of my subscription.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you experienced a complete lack of customer care or service from a company you do business with?

By the way – I did send this exact letter to Birds and Bloom Customer Care as I for one do not want my subscription cut back. I’ll let you know if, when and how they respond when I update my blog.

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