TIME is not on my side

TIME Magazine appreciates your business and is committed to your satisfaction with our services.

I have a current subscription to TIME magazine because it was so cheap, I couldn’t help myself. I alternate between buying TIME and Newsweek because, invariably, one or the other will make a deal so enticing – “Come back, Roger!” – that, even if I read only one or two articles a week, it’s worth it.

It’s particularly valuable because one can also access articles online. I go to the TIME’s log-in menu, and do what I’m asked to do, then try to get to the online article, but – nothing. I play with the system, and it asks for the confirmation number, but I haven’t a clue as to what that is. So I call customer service. The woman on the phone asks me what my confirmation number was and I assured her I had no idea what she was talking about.

As it turned out, the confirmation number had gone into my spam folder, which she blamed on Gmail. But I wasn’t supposed to retry to register, which I was doing while I was on the phone with her, because that action generated ANOTHER, different confirmation. I was supposed to go to the e-mail and click on something. But she was so clearly impatient – “I TOLD you that you need to click on the link on the e-mail” – even while maintaining that faux professional calm, that it took me a minute to figure out that I first had to move the e-mail from the spam folder because otherwise, the link she wanted me to click on would not work. I said, “Sounds like you are losing your cool.” She said nothing.

Finally, I moved the correct message from the spam folder to the regular folder, clicked on the link, got the confirmation number, entered the confirmation number on the proper line in the registration, and all was right with the world, except that customer and customer service rep were both exhausted.

Then I got this e-mail a day or two later:

“TIME Magazine appreciates your business and is committed to your satisfaction with our services.

“Our records indicate that TIME Magazine Customer Service responded to a question or request on your behalf on 04/14/2012. We would like to invite you to use our Customer Service Survey to provide feedback on your experience and our quality of service. Your evaluation of our performance is extremely valuable and will help us be more responsive to your needs in the future.

“The survey is very brief and requires only a few minutes to complete.”

So I told the story of Alice’s Restaurant Massacree the frustrating system and the frustrated CSR. In four-part harmony. That felt rather good.

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