Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I get flooded with magazines at the office.  In a given month I get probably 20 magazines, all of which are related to my industry, but only a few of them are close to what I actually do. 

At first, I thought they'd eventually stop sending them to me, so I just recycled them...but they don't.  One particular magazine has had a warning on the front cover telling me "this is the last one I will receive unless I renew now", and it's been there for six months!
I don't get FitPregnancy, but it's the only picture I could find like this.
I get about a call or two a week from their "renewal specialists" informing me all I need to do to renew is to verify some piece of data, so if I just tell them ________ (insert private and possibly confidential information), they'll keep the magazine's coming.  When I'd tell them to cancel my subscription it never got done.
This guy got promoted from door-to-door sales to an office job!
Strangely, I never gave them any information to begin with, so I'm not sure what they are verifying!  They just started sending me magazines and asking for it.

I used to get two or three emails a week asking me to confirm, or giving me their online version of the magazine.  Early on, I started using their unsubscribe feature, which resulted in me getting five to ten emails a week.  I can't remember who I've unsubscribed and which ones are new.

Recently, I've started doing something different.  Here is the transcript of a recent phone call, with their words in red, mine in blue, and funny side notes from me in black:

Hello Mr. Janakis, this is Blah, calling for Blah Blah magazine.  Your free subscription is just about to expire.  In order to continue receiving Blah Blah magazine, we just need you to verify the month you were born.


It might be childish, but at the same time it's rewarding to hear the long pause, followed by them asking the question again. 

Mr. Jankin, could I have the month you were born?

Oh, sorry, I thought you asked something else.  Broccoli.

Another long pause, followed by

Mr. Jankis, that is not an option.

Oh, sorry, I guess I don't understand the question.  What are my options?

Another long pause.  I can't tell if the guy is frustrated or doesn't get it, but he persists.

We need to verify the month you were born so your magazine service is not interrupted.

Hmmm.  That's a tough one, and I'm not too good with history.  Let me see if I can find the answer to your question and I'll call you back.  Sound like a plan?

Mr. Junkees, all we need to continue your magazine subscription is to verify your month of birth.

I know.  Don't you see what's going on here?  I'm not going to give it to you.  According to the statement you've made at least three times, if I don't give it to you, you can't verify it, and you'll stop sending me a magazine I don't read.  Correct?

Yeah, I guess. 

I know you don't work for the magazine, and are just trying to do a job for a company they've hired, but I've tried to get this magazine stopped at least half a dozen times, so I'm a bit frustrated with the whole process.  Can you stop the subscription or tell me what hoops I have to jump through to do it?

Certainly.  I'll take your name off the list.  Based on the magazine subscriptions you currently have there are several other magazines you may be interested in receiving.  Would you like to hear about them?



No.  Can't you just tell me to have a nice day and hang up?


Well that's rude.  I hope you have a nice day and better luck with your next call.

No, er, I mean, uh, have a nice day.  I can't hang up on you.


Yeah, we're not allowed.

What do you think is worse, hanging up on me or telling me your company forbids you from hanging up on me?

I don't know.

Well, let's see if we can get a rule changed.

What?  Hello?  Hello?  Hello?

I was prepared to fight this corporate bureaucracy (that's a lot of vowels for one word) for as long as it took to change a rule.  Exactly five minutes is all I had to fight.

So now I don't know if he lied about not being able to hang up on me, is a rebel and did it anyway, found a clause in the employee handbook which allowed him to hang up, or if his boss made one of those tough decisions only good leaders can make.

Guess I'll find out next month when he calls back.

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