Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Adventures with Oakland Tribune Customer Service

It's been a long time since we've subscribed to the Oakland Tribune, and I had forgotten the adventures with customer service.

A promotion came in the mail a couple of weeks ago that seemed so good that we decided to try the Trib again. This was 52 weeks of the print edition for $49.95.
I filled out and submitted the order online on Oct 10 and expected to see the paper within 7 days. Nothing had arrived by Sunday the 18th, so I go online and search for the subscriber services form.

That is not easy. Oakland Tribune is one of multiple newspapers owned by ANG newspapers, which is now Bay Area Newspapers. It's never clear which ownership layer does what. I google for oakland tribune customer service. At the very top of the page is a link to Home Delivery - clicking that just brings up a general ang page. Finally I go to help at the bottom of the page and that gives me a choice of New Subscription or Manage your subscriptions online, which is where the original Home Delivery link should have sent me. I go to to Manage your subscription and fill out the subscriber services form for Contact by email.

It is now three days later, and I have not heard anything from the Tribune.

Time to telephone. I google for Oakland Tribune Customer Service. First hit is the contact us page. No phone for customer service, just main switchboard. I call that number, she (the computer) says speak name or dept you want. I say "customer service" the computer says I don't recognize that name. After a couple of trys it lets me hit 0 for operator, or maybe I had to say operator. Finally, live person! I say "I'm calling about an Oakland Tribune special offer that... she cuts me off. "you have the wrong number". I say "this is ang isn't it?". She "what?", me "isn't this ANG?", she "yes, but you have to call 839-7323. I say "but the Oakland Tribune Contact Us page sent me here" "oh, well, I understand, thanks" and hang up.

Next, call the 7323 number. After verifying my name and address, he says I am a former customer and we are not subscribed. He tells me to fax him credit card statement showing proof that we have paid for new subscription.

I hang up, check with the credit card company - no charge for the Oakland Tribune showing - they haven't processed the credit card. I look online for the special offer again - can't find it - don't remember the secret link that was on the special mailing. The mailer is in the recycle bin somewhere. Today is garbage day, so a lot in the bin. Dump it out, search, near bottom, find the mailer.

Decide just to start over, ordering it again. This time I call the number on the mailer. Don't use the special link. A live woman answers. I tell her my story. She says "We're an outside service. We just collect the information and send it to customer service. If you call them and give them the special code, they will give you the special rate".

One more time I call the 7323 number. Get the same person. Give him the special code. He says we can do a new subscription. And he starts talking about their ezpay automatic credit card deduction. I say "no, I just want this one year special deal". He says ok one year for .... and quotes me the full rate. I say "no, I want the DMOT0909 one year 7 day print issues for $49.95. He queries me some more about it. Finally, says they don't have any such offer in their database. They will have to escalate it. Call them back in four or five days.

I say "can't you call me back? I've already made five calls today". He says something I didn't quite understand, but think the meaning was that I have to call back. So, that is where it stands now. If I haven't heard from them in a week, and even remember this issue (I do have a life outside of calling the Oakland Tribune), I will call them back.

This was initially an email to the Tribune Customer Service, just for a heads up from a customer's view, but the email probably will just go to some call center on Easter Island. It at least has given me something to blog about for the day.

1 comment:

  1. No wonder the newspapers are in trouble, with customer "service" like that!

    (Found your site while searching for information on the Camino de Santiago.)