Where’s my copy of The New York Times?

Brian Jackson/Shutterstock
Brian Jackson/Shutterstock

Question: I’ve been subscribing to the Sunday New York Times for years. No one can explain why I was able to get the paper delivered until September 2012 (when I left the country) and can’t get them delivered in November 2012 (when I returned and re-subscribed).

My address has been the same since I’ve been subscribing. The city I live in has over 80,000 people. They couldn’t have taken all the subscribers off the route. Why me?

I’ve had endless phone calls and emails with “customer service,” to no avail. The representative has asked the supervisor, who also can do nothing. They have four different addresses for me in their system, my correct one and three others which are similar but not correct. No one can seem to fix this, either.

If it wasn’t such a fine paper, I’d give up, but I really would love to have my Sunday Times. Can you help me? — Mary Jenison, Merced, Calif.

Answer: If you’re paying for the paper, you should be getting it — not excuses. But in reviewing your lengthy correspondence with the Times, it appears that when you re-subscribed to the paper, they told you they couldn’t deliver it. So you weren’t, or at least shouldn’t have been, paying for something you didn’t receive.

When I moved to Manhattan after graduating, I also subscribed to the Times. It seemed like the thing to do. Someone kept stealing my paper from my front door. I called the paper to see if there was any way they could address the issue. They seemed uninterested, and eventually, I canceled.

When you think of bad customer service, a newspaper isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. But numbers don’t lie. As a group, newspapers scored a 65 out of a possible 100 on the latest American Customer Service Index scores. The Times did a little better, with a 70, but that’s hardly a passing grade for the “newspaper of record.”

As I examine the back-and-forth between you and the online “customer care” department, I’m confused. It looks as if the system allowed you to subscribe eventually and pay for your subscription, but then flagged your ZIP code as being a problem. Apparently, the Times no longer delivers to that area, at least according to its system.

Appealing to someone who can get beyond these maddening form responses isn’t easy. Sure, the Times lists its executives on its site, but its email naming convention is all screwed up. I ought to know; I spent four years working for the paper in various roles. (Hey, I was young and I needed the money!)

Emails might follow a [email protected] convention or [email protected] simply [email protected] Why? Because they can. Use the email verifier to triangulate the correct address when you appeal.

I contacted the Times on your behalf, which I admit was a little awkward. A representative called you and promised your ZIP code issues have been fixed. As a gesture of goodwill, the Times offered you a 50 percent discount for the next six months of your subscription.

That assumes, of course, that there is a Sunday Times six months from now.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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