Tilted Windmills: Death, taxes and until you read the small print
by Mike McLellan
Aug 31, 2012 | 3729 views | 4 4 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is not news that newspapers have come upon tender times.

Some of the biggest publishers in the land have struggled with the economics of getting information out. Here may be one reason.

There is another newspaper delivered in the area (published in Contra Costa County and delivered to this area) which, for our purpose, will be unnamed.

At one time, our family subscribed to this nameless newspaper, as it claimed to have what we needed. Recently, we found nothing about Tracy, leaving the crossword as the only redeeming feature.

So, we decided to no longer subscribe. We did not realize this is not possible.

We did what is done with major magazines — we thought we would let our subscription lapse. Our mistake was assuming that not paying our bill or indicating an interest in the company would give them a clue. Nope.

Then, we started getting phone calls. The question was when were we going to pay for the papers that we did not want, read and had shown no interest in? On the fourth call, I took it seriously and told them everything I have mentioned here.

This organization responded by billing us for service until nearly next Christmas. I began letting their calls go to voicemail and threw the mailed bills away. This was not only childish, but reckless.

Finally, giving up, I talked to someone who explained to me that once I signed up for the paper (over the phone) I should have read the bottom of the bill (which I could not see then and did not look at now) where it says I will continue to get the paper in perpetuity. Only by direct and concrete action will it ever stop.

Even my wedding vows only said “until death us do part.” I wanted a simple divorce from a newspaper. Indeed, the paper will keep delivering, calling and writing, until I ante up.

Ordinarily, I would let them put me out to collection and waste their time and money, but I am kind. So, I both call and email to say that I do not want their product and would they please stop littering my driveway.

Hoping this works, I further suggested that I settle by paying for the papers I did not want (and dutifully recycled) through prorating the payment as one-third of a six-month subscription. This amounts to $10.14, not counting the check charge, envelope and stamp. It was agreed.

Lo and behold, that paper has stopped arriving. We have tallied 16 phone calls on caller-ID. There have been four emails exchanged. The total number of hours of their time and ours computed at minimum wage is — well, forget it.

Feeling loved and abused at the same time, we can only imagine what our subscription must have meant to them.

It would be good if we could stop here, but, alas, the story does not end with the mailing of my check and the pledge to cease tossing a useless — to me — object on my driveway.

Even after pleading to be placed on their no-call registry, we have received two phone requests offering a reduced rate on the delivery of the Sunday edition of a paper we do not want.

As tempting as it is, I do not wish to shackle my heirs with a bill that will never stop coming.

• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 31, 2012
I understand the frustration and have been through almost the exact same thing with the San Jose Murky news, the only exception being that when I wanted to cancel I called them rather than stopping payment. It didnt make any difference though.

I had stupidly accepted a free 6 month subscription with their explanation (lie really) that I could just call up and end it at any time. When the 6m came up and I realized I never read the thing I had to talk to several different folks and get quite nasty with them to get them to end my subscription. Then they pestered me endlessly with offers of reduced rates or offering just the Sunday paper, even after I told them repeatedly that I didnt read any of the papers, Sunday or otherwise. They seemed too unintelligent to even be called morons. It was such a simple idea but they just couldnt get it.

My advice is once you are free, never subscribe to another paper again. They seem to all play this game. Although in my older age I find reading the paper more appealing, I would never subscribe to one again.
September 01, 2012
You obvious get lots of miles out of the Tracy Press. I'll bet they hope you take the hard copy and at least look at the ads that pay for free delivery.
September 08, 2012
Yeah, I like TP, but I still wouldnt subscribe. Who needs a bunch of scrap paper in their yard when they can get the same thing online for free? Actually I guess TP is free either way but were they to ever charge I would not sign up.

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