There is an old song with a first line that went “I know a little bit about a lot of things” and this is a good description about much of my life. I am, however, expert in a few things. They include – insurance and traffic accident law, old cars and automotive history, and something else: quitting the newspaper. That last one takes more practice and experience than you might first think.
I warmed up on my local newspaper, the Indianapolis Star. The intersection of increasing price and decreasing content finally moved into the red zone of the graph and I was forced to take action. You can’t quit online, of course, because then everyone else would quit too. So the only people who can quit are those who can make it through the telephone process and withstand the barrage of new offers which will keep that paper coming for far, far less money than you paid previously.
But I made it through the gauntlet and kept saying “no”, “No” and “NO” at each input point. Success was eventually achieved. Although I will confess to backsliding and taking on a digital subscription. Which I will probably have to quit again when my promo rate runs out.
That experience turned out to be good training because I would need to be in top shape for the next one – The Wall Street Journal.
I have been a WSJ susbsriber for many years but that price/content graph was moving there also. Content was actually staying amazingly constant, but it was being made up for in price. I decided to downgrade to a digital-only subscription and see if that was something I could live with.
This is where I will explain the process step-by-step so that anyone with enough dedication and stamina can do it. You don’t run a marathon without training and I would not recommend attempting to stop delivery of a newspaper without training either. Especially when the paper is coming from New York. Those guys are pros. Anyhow, here we go.
April 20. See monthly recurring charge for full WSJ subscription. Wonder if it is really necessary to keep getting the paper. Resolve to address this. One of these days.
May 20. See monthly recurring charge for full WSJ subscription. Resolve again to do something about this. Exhaustively scan WSJ website, confirm that there is absolutely no option offered to downgrade or cancel a subscription. Give up and turn attention to more pressing concerns.
June 20. See monthly recurring charge for full WSJ subscription. Resolve again to do something about this. Exhaustively scan WSJ website, confirm that there is absolutely no option offered to downgrade or cancel a subscription. Give up and turn attention to more pressing concerns. Again.
July 16th Exhaustively (re)scan WSJ website and finally resolve to call 1-800-JOURNAL. Very nice lady on the other end of the line (which is not actually a line when you are on a wireless phone) helpfully informs me that I am eligible for a 1 year reduced rate on a digital-only subscription. A win-win, with the sole cost of losing a paper crossword puzzle on which to waste time I do not have.
July 20, receive first bill for reduced rate. Walk out to street, pick up newspaper. Savor what is sure to be one of the very last actual newspapers to be held in hand.
August 1. Walk out to street, pick up newspaper, just as was done every Monday through Saturday since July 20th. Wonder if the daily assumption that “this will surely be the last one” has ceased to be reasonable. Resolve to call the nice lady at 1-800-JOURNAL one day soon.
August 10. Walk out to street, pick up newspaper. Reach a point of certainty that the daily assumption that “this will surely be the last one” has absolutely ceased to be reasonable. Wonder what would happen if you just say nothing. If this wondering is done aloud in close proximity with a spouse, prepare to receive reminders to call 1-800-Journal.
August 15. Walk out to street, pick up newspaper. Respond to spousal request about whether you have called 1-800-JOURNAL. The response is negative, of course. Resolve to make that telephone call one day soon.
August 21. Walk out to street, pick up newspaper. Decide that this is absolutely the day to call 1-800-JOURNAL. This is the part where your training regimen begins to pay off because you will have to navigate automated menus which do not apply to your situation. You must decide if this is a delivery issue on the paper which you are not supposed to be receiving to or an issue with the digital subscription which is giving you a print copy which you are not supposed to be receiving. Opt for none of the above by saying “customer service.” Their crafty phone system programmers will try again to trick you into making one of the choices that does not apply to your situation, but you must stick to your guns and keep repeating the phrase “Customer Service.”
You will finally be connected with a very nice lady on the other end of the cancer-inducing wave frequency radiation stuff (that comes from your phone because here is no line involved) and explain that you continue to receive a daily delivery of a paper paper, one which you have not been paying for. This is the place to helpfully add that had you known that stopping payments but continuing to receive a paper was an option, you would have chosen that one. She will politely chuckle.
You will achieve success when the very nice lady tells you that everything has been taken care of. You will be asked to take a brief survey after the call. It is ok if you begin to sweat, fearing more questions which cannot be answered without an essay section. It is OK to hang up. Something else nobody else does today because you really press a button that says “End.”
August 22. Walk out to street, pick up newspaper. Savor what is sure to be one of the very last actual newspapers to be held in hand.
August 26th – Walk out to street, pick up what will surely be the last paper you ever receive, luxuriating in the tactile experience of fresh, crackly newsprint.
August 28th – walk out to street, pick up newspaper.
August 29th – walk out to street, pick up newspaper. Wonder how much longer this can possibly go on because your blog post is pretty well finished, but the story hasn’t ended.
August 31st – walk out to street, pick up newspaper. Admire the cosmic elegance of the way the newspaper comes on the Saturday of a holiday weekend which effectively marks the end of summer. How fitting that the newspaper should exit my life when summer does.
September 10th – Walk out to street, pick up newspaper. Everything you have read up to this point? Never mind. Just forget it. Because it has become painfully clear that I know absolutely nothing about how to stop a newspaper.
Photo by the author.