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Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HoosierLoser, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. HoosierLoser

    HoosierLoser Member

    We all get those annoying phone calls that start off with "I've been a subscriber of your newspaper (since Gutenberg introduced moveable type) and ..."

    Today, it was some guy complaining about our coverage of the Baylor Bears. For God's sakes, we're in central California and he's complaining about the Bears.

    After a lengthy conversation, in which I asked him to give examples when we didn't run the score (college scorelist on agate every day) or run a few paragraphs of the game in our Top 25 men's roundup, he told me "I wasn't any help" and then hung up before I could say "sorry."

    I told him we only run men's Top 25 roundups, a West Coast roundup and a scorelist. So Baylor wouldn't have had a story (two paragraphs) until last week.

    His reply to my Top 25 comment was "I knew that before you were born." I didn't have my smart-ass filter on so I said, "well then you know Baylor is in Texas and you're in California."

    I hate outing myself but does my customer service suck? I absolutely hate explaining (print reduction, lack of editorial space, proximity) to readers that "KNOW IT ALL." If he's been a subscribing for 30 years, he's seen this newspaper dwindle in size, and he probably is pissed off about paying more for less.

    How do you handle these situations?
  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Let them have their say. It's all they really want anyway.

    If he's a 30-year-subscriber, well, his paper back in the day probably WAS better. Certainly bigger. Pretty tough to argue that.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    True. When these folks call and bitch about stuff like that, be pleasant and let them get it off their chests.
  4. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    I used to tell them to go fuck themselves, but I'd give them a co-worker's name.
  5. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    Has any call that starts with "I'm a subscriber" ever been pleasant?
    It's always a complaint.
    Some people are more polite, but it's never "I'm a subsciber and I want to compliment you on the fact you were able to get an article in about that game that lasted til 11:30 last night."
  6. HoosierLoser

    HoosierLoser Member

    I wanted to be pleasant but even after I told him we had a story on Baylor's lost to South Carolina, he still wanted to tell me I was wrong.
  7. rtse11

    rtse11 Member

    I got a phone message earlier this week from a reader who only buys the paper to get the local horse racing track results, and he's going to cancel if we don't start running them.
    Track's been dark since before Christmas and isn't running again for 2 more weeks.
    I could have taken his number off caller ID but frankly his stupidity wasn't worth expending any more energy than a chuckle.
  8. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    Best recent "complaint" was from a guy, "longtime subscriber" who demanded to know why we didn't cover his local high school's football game. They are 9-0 and No. 1 in their division. His kids went there, they are big supporters of the team. They know everything about the team, etc., etc., etc.
    "I scoured the entire Saturday section and not one word about (my team) or any other team in that league. What is wrong with you guys."
    Uh, sir. That team you love so much and you know everything about them, they played on THURSDAY, as did the entire league. If you had seen Friday's paper, you might have noticed a 90-point banner headline on the sports cover which read: (SCHOOL) 9-0.
  9. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    Your customer service wasn't bad. However, like someone else said, the guy just wanted to unload about a (perceived) fault of your paper.

    I know from having years of customer service experience that not all customer demands are reasonable. Sometimes, though, people don't want to listen to reason. They just want to bitch.
  10. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Active Member

    Better than the "I'm a subscriber" call is the "I'm an advertiser" call.

    Had one of those a few years ago from a guy who lived in a town just outside of our circulation area but owned a business within the area. He was bitching because we didn't cover his son's varsity football team, and kept threatening to yank his advertising. I explained to him that the school was out of our coverage area, that we didn't sell any papers there, and that our resources were devoted to the schools within our area. He kept complaining, saying he was going to yank his ads and "run us out of business." I let him rant, then he hung up on me.

    I checked with our ad director. The guy bought one 1 col x 2 inch ad once a week. He yanked his ads starting the next week.

    We're still in business. He's not.

    That said, going back to the original call ... just let them complain. Sometimes they have a legitimate gripe, sometimes they do not. Most of the time, they want to blow off steam. I just listen to them, and move on.
  11. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    I had a guy call me three times in two weeks bitching that the NBA TV listings weren't in the paper and wanting to know which game was on TV that night.

    First two times I pointed out that there weren't any NBA games on national television that day.

    Third time I was sure I had put them in. Grabbed a copy and, sure enough, there they were. Boston at Atlanta, or whatever the fuck.

    "The NBA listing is right there in the TV box," says I.

    "Oh, well I don't get the paper," he replied.
  12. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Active Member

    My favorite this fall was the guy who called up one Saturday morning bitching up a storm that we had in the paper that the Iowa-Purdue game was on the Big Ten Network and it wasn't. "You screwed up again," he screamed.

    In the background, I have the Iowa-Purdue game on — on the Big Ten Network. I told him I was watching it on the newsroom TV. "Yeah, right," he snarls. So I held the phone up to the TV. When I got back on the phone, there's silence on the other end. Finally, he says, "Oh, I had it on the wrong channel," and hangs up.
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