I canceled our New York Times subscription this weekend. Not because we.ve turned away from print media – that we stuck with the Times this long is a testament to our enjoyment of print media and our desire to see it stay alive. No, I canceled it because the Times delivery, in this corner of Bed-Stuy at least, had to be some of the most incompetent service I’ve ever seen.
First they kept forgetting to deliver the Saturday paper. We called, still no delivery. We called again. One weekend of papers, then another weekend of no paper. Another call, another stretch of appalling delivery, this time in the form of on off papers, weekdays and weekends. Then, no Saturday paper, no Sunday paper, then no paper at all. We called again.
You get the picture.
This went on for most of last year. Yet we kept at it. Reading the news on the screen still can’t replicate the pleasure of a real newspaper, the chance disclosure of the unfolded page, the feel of paper beneath the fingers. As we all know, print media is an endangered beast. We like to do our part.
After we’d called for the ninth time, we got a whole month of nearly uninterrupted service. Sometimes, when I woke up early, I’d hear our paper boy. I wouldn’t realize it was him at first – usually there was just a blast of music, sometimes 80’s dance music, sometimes hip-hop, but loud enough to fill out the dawn street. Then he’d appear, tossing the blue-wrapped newspaper out his window. I think he had a helper.
Of course it didn’t last. Hey, I’m sure delivery the newspaper is not a great job. I’ve had to get up at four, five am to go to some shitty job and it sucks. But I delivered the newspaper as a kid and it’s not that freakin’ hard. Especially when someone’s called ten times. When our paper didn’t come three weekends in a row, I was incredulous. Who wants a service that doesn’t come more often than it does? I called the subscription office and a nice woman with a southern accent answered. She didn’t seem surprised that I wanted to cancel. “But if you do decide to renew with us, please call us when you don’t receive your newspaper . . . ”
I don’t know if the Times just doesn’t care about our corner of Bed-Stuy, or if they want to be rid of their print division altogether. If this is common, they’re doing a good job.