...brought to you by American business. Hang on for the story. But first take a gander at the photo above.
Yes, the good old days. Kids riding the neighborhood delivering the local newspaper. I think I wanted to be one myself. We had a local paper in Mount Vernon, New York called the Daily Argus. I believe I asked my parents if I could apply for a job. My father probably envisioned that the actual delivery would be left to him. End of discussion.
But I digress...
Now I've grown into one of those schmucks who still likes to read a newspaper in the morning. Not on-line. In my hand. There are perhaps 14 of us left in the United States.
Okay, in Los Angeles, I have had the LA Times delivered to me at my doorstep every morning. It's not done by a kid on a bicycle. Nope, we get them from a Mexican in a beat-up Chevy Impala. He goes up to each floor via the elevator and quickly lobs them down each hallway. If you're lucky, yours winds up close to your doorstep.
Indeed, the LA Times is not a great paper but, then again, I'm one who misses the hilarious headlines of the NY Post. When it comes right down to it, I still subscribe to the paper for three basic reasons:
The sports page.
The Sudoku puzzle.
Oh, and on Sundays, there's a fourth reason. Coupons!
So, I miss the paper when I don't get it. And, when you upset your routine, it's really a science project to get your paper stopped or redelivered. When I moved back in March from the first floor to the second, it actually took until April for the idiot to redirect my paper to the new apartment. For two weeks, I simply went down to my old place and picked up the paper there.
Vacation stops when I go to NY for a week are another dilemma and it's a crap shoot whether or not you can actually manage this relatively simple task. Like when I went East two weeks ago. Dutifully and about a week in advance, I went on-line to put in this temporary halt to my newspaper delivery. You used to be able to call but getting somebody on a phone for anything these days...well.
I'm in NY and my neighbor e-mails me. My paper is still showing up. Okay. He simply takes the newspaper for me so they don't pile up at the doorway and give others the incorrect notion that I'm...well...dead inside.
I return on the day that my paper delivery is supposed to be restarted. And, of course, you guessed it. No paper.
And no paper on the second day. I go on-line to report this and look for credit on the papers that were delivered that shouldn't have been. I ask for that newspaper to be redelivered. He does so several hours later.
On the third day, the Lord rose and I still had no paper. This time, I called the LA Times and waited five minutes for a pick-up. A girl answered.
"Hello, Los Angeles Times, my name is....um....Jennifer."
The "um" is because, from the sound of her voices, she lives in a part of the world where there are no Jennifers.
I explained my issue and she dutifully took down the information for a credit. The Los Angeles Times is so sorry that this has happened to such a loyal and longtime subscriber. "Jennifer" will communicate this to the local carrier. Uh huh. I tell them that the next day is Sunday and I want my paper delivered as per usual because I am expecting a coupon for 75 cents off on Visa Towels.
You do know what happens next.
Yep, no Sunday paper. I call again and this time I'm a bit more inquisitive of the gal answering the phone. This time, she's "Margaret."
Margaret: "I promise this will not happen again. Someone will deliver your paper within the next hour. And there will be stern complaints issued by me to the local carrier."
Me: "Thank you, but this has been promised over the past three days and nothing has happened. "
Margaret: "Sir, this is our system and it has been proven to work."
Me: "Okay, Margaret, can I ask you a single question? Where in the world are you sitting right now?"
Margaret: "I am in the Philippines."
Me: (following a slight gasp) "Okay, so my paper in Los Angeles is not getting delivered. And the process to get this resolved goes from me in LA to you in the Philippines who then will contact somebody back in LA."
Margaret: "Yes, sir. That is how it works."
Me: "Your system is stupid."
Margaret: "It has been proven to work."
Me: "No, it doesn't. Can you give me the phone number of the local carrier? I can solve this with one phone call within my area code."
This "Who's on First?" routine continued for several minutes, but, luckily, one Salazar Cortez delivered my paper an hour later. And I was able to get my own issue resolved. With one sentence that included about a third of Spanish.
Outsourcing on steroids. And I'm sure each and every one of us has a similar story of trying to get customer service from a person several continents and one big ocean away.
Yes, I know American newspapers are dying. Reporters are being laid off left and right. Some journals are even shutting down.
But how much money do you save by outsourcing your delivery service?
Ah, give me that ten-year-old kid on a bike any day.
Dinner last night: Steak, baked potato, and salad.