Customers (we really don’t ) Care

This is really for anyone who has wrestled with a “customer care” situation that made you want to tear your hair out.

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After Mark died, there were so many activities and actions that needed my attention. It’s so odd, how difficult it is to unravel even the most organized life when that life ends, I was glad I was able to go on autopilot for while, he set me up pretty well for which I am thankful everyday. When Mark died just under two years ago I was in zombie-land

One task I took care of right away was convert our New York Times home delivery subscription to all digital. I did not want the actual papers because that involved a series of tasks above and beyond the reading of the paper.

Mark always read the paper: he picked it up from the curb and when he was done it, he tied it up and took the neatly stacked New York Times to the curb for recycling.

Even the seemingly simple things turned out to be fraught with complications due in part to the fog of loss in which I was shrouded.

For one, I could not figure out the garbage schedule. The way it is designed is confusing. Little circle to indicate one kind of pickup, highlighted squares for another and then asterisks regarding holidays and Mondays or something. I was quietly feeling quite deranged back then.

Reading anything at all was beyond me, I was just wrung out and stunned from Mark’s death, even though I knew it was coming it was like a house fell on me.

Mark liked to cut articles out from the Times and send to friends and family or leave them on the kitchen counter for me with a little drawing and note. My favorite thing was when he would read me an article and we would talk about it.

That was over now and it was time to make a change.

Thanks to the internets, it was easy to make the change to digital.

Checked off that box on the To DO list.

Or so I thought.

Some things are just out of our control though we, as humans, like to think we can control everything.

We can’t control a thing. Not the weather not the post office. We can control our attitudes and how we view what happens to us. That’s really it.

In a recent very moving gut -wrenching piece in the New York Times called “Afterlife”, the father finds himself holding onto the junk mail that comes addressed to his son who died at the young age of 21.

I could relate to the feeling, the wanting to keep the connection going even if it meant receiving unwanted junk mail.

Here is a challenge for you. If you are on a list try to get off, even If you are dead you can never end your relationship with insurance companies, AARP, catalog subscriptions, credit card offers, non-profits and political parties looking for donations, anyone you ever gave money to or whom you thought you might.

No. Not. Ever.

My favorite is the Viking River cruise offers to my mother and father in law. Most recently my mother-in-law, Dora who died two years ago at age 93, was offered a great deal on a brand new Mercedes Benz, trouble is she didn’t drive.

Then there are the: “Get this before it’s too late! It’s the deal of lifetime offers,” Um-er it’s too late guys. But this problem is part of a larger problem of digitizing and depersonalization of communications to the point that no one is listening to anyone.

It seems all our posting on Facebook and Twitter are then translated into marketing opportunities because of what we view, what we click and who we follow. Does anybody really know what time it is?

My email and phone call exchanges with The New York Times Customer Care department is a perfect example of how no one is really listening to anyone, anymore.

While customer service representatives are quite polite and eager and some actually help us immensely and I want to acknowledge them. Some are not charged with any real power they look at a computer screen and tell us how wrong we are in making our requests. Having been in marketing and gone to B-School I know one of the basic tenets of “delighting” customers is to put a good tag line and title on something and people will believe you care even if you may not or cannot.

For example at the New York Times, customer care is just a nice phrase for “not going to help you, because I am completely powerless to do so, but doing it ever so nicely and hopefully not misspelled.”

Here’s what happened to me with the New York Times and my digital subscription. I sent this information to The Haggler Column in The New York Times a few weeks ago hoping for help, but none has arrived just yet. Maybe he is on vacation right now, it is August in New York. Read: Empty city.

On May 1, 2014 I started receiving daily home delivery of the NY Times again even though I had cancelled home delivery about 18 month before, switching to digital only.

At first I thought it was a promotion because of the launch of Times Premiere and when I didn’t sign up for it the promo would end.

Then I thought the delivery person must have an extra paper and is giving one to me.

When the papers continued I then started my campaign to stop delivery of the actual physical newspaper and below the following email “dialogue” with the New York Times Customer Care department. (NYTCCD)

After much to-ing and fro-ing the NYTCC D response to me was that I cannot stop delivery of the paper because I am not Elaine Kottler, the account holder.

My guess is: there was an input error when Elaine Kottler became a subscriber and may live on the same named Road in another town, for sure she does not live on my street even thought the Customer care rep told me to go down the block and look for her. (Really?)

It has been suggested to me that I might not want to look a gift horse in the mouth i.e. a free daily paper which is the upside,  however the serious downside is I cannot stop or pause it when I go on vacation and don’t want the paper piling up on my lawn.

As a widow you tend to want less work and added activities. Especially if your guy was anything like my husband. Mark was one of those guys who did everything and it’s like losing both arms when you lose a guy like that you love and adore.

I don’t want to have to tie it up and bring it to the curb.

Of course the good news is that the New York Times is great for using to wash the windows of my car, and if I spill a quantity of water, the New York Times soaks it right up. I am sure there are a million and one uses, perhaps you have some ideas dear reader.

Since I get the paper  tend to pay more attention to what is going on in the world with it front and center every morning. Extra  bonus are the great plastic bags I use when I take Clinton on his morning walks they are a perfect size and tie up very easily.

Still I would like to have control over the account. Not being able to pause the paper when I go away for a few days really bugs me. I tried giving the paper to my neighbor every morning but he didn’t want it either and when I go away I want to avoid the paper pile up that says. “Burglars stop here, no one is home!”

This email exchange went to the Haggler again today

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I made numerous calls and actually received more emails to a different address. I am sure you get the point.

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I appreciate any help you may be able to give me in this.

My best regards,

Nancy Mindes (not Elaine Kottler)

My account number for MY account –

DIGITAL SUBSCRIBER NANCY MINDES

Is

  Xxxxxxxx93

________________________________________

Elaine Kottler  account number YOU SENT ME  for this account is xxxxxx9

 

PLEASE FIX THIS.

THANK YOU

 

From: Customercare <Customercare@nytimes.com>

Subject: Your New York Times Inquiry

Date: June 15, 2014 7:20:42 AM EDT

>

Reply-To: Customercare <Customercare@nytimes.com>

You have your information wrong.

There is no Elaine Kottler here

There is a XXXX Road in Roslyn NY too

Your records are wrong , please fix error.

Sent from my iPhone

On Jun 11, 2014, at 3:36 PM, Customercare <Customercare@nytimes.com> wrote:

Dear Nancy Mindes,

Thank you for contacting NYTimes.com.

In response to your inquiry, our records show that you have the same address as a Home Delivery subscriber. The Home Delivery account has Monday-Sunday service. This account is under Elaine Kottler. The account number for this account is XXXXXX95.

You can also visit our website at www.nytimes.com/myaccount to receive information on your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please follow the instructions to register if you have not done so already.

If there is anything else we can do to help you, please e-mail us at help@nytimes.com or call us at 1-800-591-9233 from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday-Friday and 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday (ET).

Your satisfaction is very important to us.

Sincerely,

Christina Gorman
Online Customer Care
The New York Times
help@nytimes.com

Dear Nancy Mindes,

Thank you for contacting us. In response to your inquiry, T

Thank you for contacting us. In response to your inquiry, we are unable to make any changes to the account for Elaine Kottler because you are not the account holder. If you have any other questions or concerns please contact us at the phone number below. We apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. .

You can also visit our website at www.homedelivery.nytimes.com to receive information on your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please follow the instructions to register if you have not done so already.

If there is anything else we can do to help you, please e-mail us at customercare@nytimes.com or call us at 1-800-NYTIMES (1-800-698-4637) from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday-Friday and 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday (ET).

Your satisfaction is very important to us and we thank you for your feedback.

Sincerely,

William Hurt

Online Customer Care

The New York Times

www.homedelivery.nytimes.com

> Subject: Re: Your New York Times Inquiry

Dear Kirsten Kirkland,

It’s official I asked my letter carrier if there is an Elaine Kottler (letter carrier being an employee of the US government) and she said no there is no one and never has been anyone named Elaine Kottler on Blankety Road in Rockville Centre, NY. You at the NYTimes Customer Care need to find the record for this person and get it worked out. I am assuming she is paying for the paper I have been receiving.

there it a Anytown Named Road in every town in USA. I looked in the Nassau County phone book, the actual book everyone else throws out and there was No Elaine Kottler.

Sincerely,

Nancy Mindes

Dear Nancy Mindes,

Thank you for contacting us. In response to your inquiry, our records indicate there is a home delivery account going to the address 5 Anytown Road. The account is under a Kottler. If you have neighbors that have the same address or know someone, they have an active account. 

You can also visit our website at www.homedelivery.nytimes.com to receive information on your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please follow the instructions to register if you have not done so already.

If there is anything else we can do to help you, please e-mail us at customercare@nytimes.com or call us at 1-800-NYTIMES (1-800-698-4637) from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday-Friday and 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday (ET).

Your satisfaction is very important to us and we thank you for your feedback.

Sincerely,

Kirsten Kirkland
Online Customer Care
The New York Times
www.homedelivery.nytimes.com

> Date Sent: 06/11/2014 14:51

> To: customercare@nytimes.com

> Cc:

> Subject: RE: Please tell the driver to stop!

>

Dear Customer Care,

I have called about this 4 times and sent an email to no avail.

This is now my eleventh try.

I am receiving the NYTimes daily and on weekends seemingly in an effort to get me to request home delivery again and I have asked your customer care representatives repeatedly that the driver STOP delivering to my address PLEASE.

Am a paid digital subscriber and very happy with that and do not want the paper on a daily basis-even for free.

Am not sure how to get the point across except to perhaps stand on the lawn at 5 a.m. and wait for the driver to come and then tell her to stop! Or perhaps put up a giant SIGN?

 

Please make sure I am not being charged for this unwanted service for the past month and please stop delivering the NY Times to my home.

.

Maybe if we would just look up from our computer screens, our smartphones and tablets for a moment and pay attention to what is being said, caring about what matters to the person in front of us, we would keep connections going and help each other when it matters. Meanwhile I am all set for the weekend. Thank you Elaine Kottler where ever you are.