The Death of Print (or: My Adventures with the Boston Globe)

Update 20161122: Since writing the text below, I’ve been contacted by several staffers at the Globe via many channels. They not only assure me that my discrete issues have been addressed, but that they’ve had meetings to pick apart what went wrong based on the notes I wrote up below. Hopefully my experience will (ultimately) make things better in the future.

Setting the stage: I’ve been a digital subscriber to The Boston Globe for years now. Corinna decided she would like to try getting the Sunday edition in print. Here are the things I needed to do to accomplish this:

  1. Log into my account on their website, to find there was no easy way to simply add ANY print subscription to my account. You’d think they’d want to make this braindead simple.
  2. Call their phone line (1-888-MY-GLOBE) to find out they were only open until noon on the weekend.
  3. Remember on Tuesday that I wanted to do this, and call the phone line again, waiting on hold for a few minutes to talk to a representative. I state that I want to add Sunday delivery to my existing digital account. I’m told the only way to accomplish this is to close out my existing subscription and add a new one. The existing subscription will be terminated as of Thursday, but my new subscription won’t be in effect until Sunday. So I’ll have no digital access for those few days. That seems ridiculous, but I accept it.
  4. Wake up this morning, excited to fetch my paper, to find nothing. Try to attach my new account number to my login, but meet no success.
  5. Call their support line, wait on hold for 5 minutes until a robot tells me i’m 22 in the queue. I hang up and run to their online chat.
  6. After about 5 minutes a chat rep. appears, I explain my plight, and she straightens everything out. She tells me my subscription has no digital access, and would I like to add it? I told her that I was supposed to have digital access, that the rep on Tuesday told me I would have it as of Sunday, but apparently that rep messed something up. She schedules a redelivery before 2pm and gives me gratis digital access until my ‘repaired’ subscription kicks in on Tuesday and we end our chat. I have no idea why it takes them several days to activate a digital subscription.
  7. Just before noon, I learn they have a Customer Service iPhone app. The sign-in screen asks for my name, email, phone # or acccount #, and house #. After lots of trial and error, i find that the address and phone number were out of date on my account. I can’t remember if the phone rep asked for updated information or not, but she clearly should have. As someone who’s never had print delivery, to assume that the address is correct on my account seems unwise.
  8. I reenter chat (with 10 minutes to spare before they shut down at noon) and explain that the address is wrong on my account, and that is probably why I didn’t get a paper this morning. I give the rep my account number, which is attached to an address in Wellesley. I can’t tell you if the original phone rep transposed numbers or I did, but the whole time I was using the incorrect account number. So some person in Wellesley probably just had digital access added to their account. I give the rep my current info, and she updates my account, crediting me for today’s paper and suggesting that I will receive a paper at my ‘new’ address starting next Sunday.
  9. I log into the Globe site, attaching the new account number to my Globe login, and notice that while my billing address has been updated, my delivery address is still incorrect. There is no clear way for me to change this myself. My plan is to check back in a few days and see if it is fixed, otherwise I see another chat in my future.

It is maddening to me that this process was so painful.

  • Why can I not add a print subscription myself, online, without involving a customer service rep?
  • Why can I not update the address on my account myself?
  • Why wasn’t I able to add print delivery without losing my digital access for several days?
  • Why didn’t the phone rep verify my delivery address?
  • Why didn’t the chat rep, once I complained of a missing delivery, verify my delivery address?
  • Why is the process to attach my subscription to my login a manual process? Why can’t the customer service reps do it for me?

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