Archive for the ‘customer service’ Tag

Dear LA Times, Again,   1 comment

la-times-square-446x238I don’t mean to annoy, honest. Can you say the same?

Yesterday, I re-subscribed subscribed to your digital media, and was told by your representative that I would also continue to get the Sunday newspaper for several months at no charge. OK, that’s yesterday’s news. Today, I sent you an email, hoping to alert management to what happened. And I conveniently provided a link to my blog that explained everything in some detail.

Here’s the email I sent through your “Contact Us” form:

Subject * Comments
Website URL (if applicable)
Message * I subscribed yesterday, and the whole process was fraught with errors and problems. You really need to examine how you interact with your customers … because it’s not going well for you.

And I know newspapers can’t afford to make mistakes right now.

I blogged about the experience; link is provided in the space provided. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. Happy to help.


I got a rather prompt response from one of your representatives:

Dear Ms. Mowry,

Thank you for contacting Los Angeles Times mobile support.

We are sorry for the difficulty you have experienced on our website. Would you be willing to provide the exact error you receive upon subscribing? In addition, we appreciate if you can send a screenshot of the error. We look forward to hearing back from you.

In the interim, you can try to subscribe through this link:

If you require further assistance, please call our Customer Service at 1-(800) 252-9141 or simply respond to this email.


Lemuel Florague

A few notes about that response:

  1. I do not self-identify as a Ms. Perhaps there are other LA Times’ communicants named Henry that do so, but I do not. Mr. Mowry, or actually, just Henry, is a great way to address me.
  2. I cannot provide a screenshot of the error message, as I did not save it, and if you had read my email, you would have learned that the error was addressed yesterday. Before I wrote you.
  3. Thank you for providing the link to your subscription screen, but if you had read my email, you would have learned that I subscribed yesterday. Before I wrote you.
  4. You might want to check your customer service records about my subscription; I’m sure the 3 people that I spoke with yesterday kept good notes that would illuminate the issues for you.
  5. Oh, and if you had read the blog that I referenced for you, and that I linked for you, that would have helped as well.

I did respond to your email, however, as follows:

Feel free to read my blog, and then get back to me. Your questions will be answered when you do that.

Unfortunately, you did not respond to that email, so I don’t know if you’re still confused about my subscription status. Or my gender identity, for that matter.

Please advise.



One Of Your Newest, Frustrated Subscribers

Dear LA Times,   1 comment

I used to be very frustrated with your circulation department; it was the worst. I canceled my subscription years ago … and yesterday, my wife and I decided it was time to re-subscribe. After all, you had sent me multiple emails over this holiday weekend asking me to do exactly that.


We had both found a series of articles that you published recently about a battle between an Irvine PTA president and a power couple – parents of a 6-year old boy – that decided to take her down, no matter what. Velda tried to read the article, and failed as she was not a subscriber. I got linked to the article through a Facebook personality I follow, and I read the article perfectly well. And I was not a subscriber.

At least, that I knew of.

I tried to give you money to start a subscription, and your website wouldn’t let me. I was told I had to call subscription services, so I did.

They lied to me, and 11 minutes of my life was gone.

I told them I wanted to give you money and receive the Sunday printed edition as well as unlimited digital access for both of us. Total cost: $9.99 for 13 weeks, like your offer said. Sold!

But subscription services would not take my money. They told me I was getting a free subscription to the Sunday paper for 26 weeks (didn’t ever ask for that, and you never told me. Gee, thanks!). All I had to do was go to latimes/activate, and I could activate the digital access part of the subscription.


So, I had to call back, get another subscription department drone on the phone, and try again. This person “saw the error on my account” and told me I had to talk to the digital subscription department to get it fixed. That brought me to Erica.

I told her the whole story: how I wanted to give her money, and the website wouldn’t let me. How I wanted to be a subscriber.

I did what she told me while we were still on the phone together.


She then tried to subscribe for me in parallel, and she got it to work, but not by doing what I asked. You see, I actually asked to stop the free delivery of the Sunday paper, and allow me to pay for it.


Erica did do a paid subscription for digital access, which I was assured would work for both Velda and I after 4 days of processing time. Apparently, the whole computer subscription idea takes 4 days, so your servers must be really slow, but that’s another problem.

Back to my situation.

After two phone calls, conversations with 3 people in your circulation department, and a 23 minute conversation with Erica who at least took some of my money, here’s what I now have:

  1. A free subscription to the Sunday paper, which I offered to pay for several times … but, no. It’s free, and I better like it.
  2. A paid subscription for digital access, costing $0.99 per week for 4 weeks, and then $1.49 per week after that. And, when it’s magically processed on your end, I should be able to register Velda for no additional charge.

She said. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, dearest LA Times, please allow me to say that you have the worst circulation department I have ever dealt with. THE WORST. You should fire everyone with “Manager,” “Director” or, God forbid, “Vice President” in their title in that area and start over.

After all, I had to call to give you money today, and not one person was able to take that money and give me a paid subscription. Your bureaucracy could not get out of its own way.

Journalism, I mourn for thee.


Henry Mowry

  • Free Subscriber to the Sunday edition of the LA Times
  • Paid Subscriber to Digital editions of the LA Times

PS: the piece by Christopher Goffard called “FRAMED” sold this subscription. I hope you give Christopher a raise.


LA Times: FRAMED, A Mystery In 6 Parts

(non-subscribers can read 5 articles on per month, and I highly recommend you read this one)


The Right Way   Leave a comment

HP EnvyI bought a new desktop computer for myself this Christmas. I saw that I was relying on a 3 year-old laptop … and I was concerned that it wouldn’t see 4 years. Too many blue screens in December. Time to be flexible.

So, I bought a new computer … an HP Envy 700. On sale today at Best Buy. 2 TB hard drive. 12 gig of RAM. Sold.

And then it proved to have a problem.

Tech Support

The computer went to sleep, even while I was copying files.

The computer would reboot every time it went to sleep.

It went to sleep, even when I told it to NEVER go to sleep.

So, I called HP’s tech support. I eventually worked through 4 different tech support reps … Sameer, Christopher, Hamid and Dhuval. They each tweaked the system. Christopher really annoyed me with his strong sales pitches for warranty extensions and in-home tech visits (I said no 4 times before he stopped pitching me.)

They each tweaked the system. After Sameer, they each told me they had fixed the problem.

And when I put the system to sleep, it automatically rebooted. When the system went to sleep automatically (it timed out) … it still rebooted.

The only solutions offered to me were more calls with tech support … or buying an extended warranty. For a new computer.

No thank you.

Best BuyCustomer Service

After getting frustrated with HP’s tech support, I called Best Buy … I had purchased this computer online through Best Buy.

Best Buy’s response? Take the computer back to any Best Buy, and get a new one on the spot.

My understanding is their policy is that any customer could exchange a problem computer within 30 days. I am an Elite customer (formerly Best Buy Rewards Zone), so I have 45 days to return a computer … and it was day 23.

My local store, 10 minutes from my house, had the computer in inventory. 30 minutes later, I was checking out of customer service with a new computer.

And that’s how it’s done. Am I a loyal customer with Best Buy? You bet.

When Customer Service Really Isn’t   3 comments

MCR LogoI am a Diet Coke drinker. Addict. Obsessed person. I have a soda in my hands from morning ’til night. Actually, that’s not the whole picture. My Bubba Keg with Diet Coke sits on my nightstand overnight, too, so I can have a wee sip in the dark of the night.

I love Diet Coke.

So, when they began a rewards program for their customers, it was inevitable that I would sign on. My Coke Rewards has been one of my annoying little habits for several years now; I dutifully enter the codes found under caps and inside cardboard containers of all Coke products. That must make me a model customer. A loyal customer.

I really want to like the program … one of the first rewards that we claimed was a discounted hotel package to stay at Yosemite National Park for a family vacation. We stayed at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, and the family had a wonderful time. Courtesy of Diet Coke. It was a perfect, positive brand enhancement.

Picture perfect brand enhancement!

Picture perfect brand enhancement!

All good, right?

I am sad they haven’t offered that or any other comparable award since. I’ve had to make do with gift cards and the occasional kitchen utensil (for guess who).

Two days ago, I got an email telling me that if I entered codes from 12-packs, I would get double points. Winner! I dutifully dug into the drawer, and found some 12-pack codes waiting to be entered. Logged into my account.

And found that I had been robbed.

I had amassed a few thousand points, but they were gone. I went into the account history, and found that someone had gotten a $50 gift card and a $20 video game reward from my account. But it wasn’t me.


I found the way to email the My Coke Rewards customer service folks, and sent them my tale of woe. I quickly got a form email back telling me they’d respond in 48 hours. No problem. Today, I got the response.

Here’s the subject line of the email they sent me addressing my problem:


When I replied to the email, here is the header information from their email that automatically copied into my email:


At this point, I’m not feeling too warm and fuzzy. I’m also not feeling very Korean (or whatever language that is).

I then read the email below … which was in English, luckily:

Dear Henry,

Thank you for contacting and for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

While we are not aware of any technical issues regarding the e-gift cards, we’d like to share this information with our technical teams. Please reply directly to this message with the following information:

– Does anyone else have access to the account?
– Do you access your account from home, work, library etc..?
– Had you downloaded any new software prior to the unauthorized transactions?
– Have any of your other personal accounts been affected (bank, credit card, etc…)?

Translation: isn’t it really YOUR fault that this happened? They ask me 4 questions, and all 4 assume that I have made a mistake to defeat their perfect security system. After all, as the email states, “we” are not aware of any technical issues. So it must be “you.”

Then they deliver the bitter pill, wrapped in aspartame (as befits a diet drink):

We’ll be happy to refund your points for the purchases in your account.  Please note this is being done as a one-time gesture of goodwill.  Therefore, we ask that you change your MCR password for security purposes.  Once you have done so, let us know and we’ll refund your points as promised.

Two real problems here:

1. They’re willing – happy, even – to refund my points. That’s implies there was a problem with my usage of the points, so they will balance the account by returning the funds used. They don’t say they will replace the points, which is more accurate, and less inflammatory.

2. They want me to change my MCR password. Uh, OK, what’s that? Then it hit me: MCR = My Coke Rewards. I’m just not hip enough to know their jargon. Classic customer service problem … you have to speak in your customer’s language (blew that one again, didn’t they!). By using jargon, they were actually talking down to me instead of communicating clearly what needed to happen.

We recommend that you take necessary steps to ensure continued security of your account.  For example, you may also wish to update the password to the email address linked to your MCR account.  We also suggest that you do not share your user name and/or password with anyone.

They then went on to tell me they recommend I take steps to change the password on my email account … you know, because they hadn’t messed enough things up for me. And, by the way, my email account password is DIFFERENT from the password that My Coke Rewards has … so even if my email was hacked (it wasn’t), the hacker wouldn’t have gained access to my precious points in, uh, MCR.

We look forward to hearing back from you.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us again.



Now, I don’t know who Luerena is, but she speaks for the entire Coca-Cola corporation when she tells me that “we” are looking forward to hearing from me.

They heard from me.

Was I snarky about the foreign language? You bet.

Was I snarky about their blame on me for no reason? You bet.

Did they replace the points in the account? You bet.

Thank goodness. I can’t imagine switching to Diet Pepsi.

Coca-Cola logo

Posted November 9, 2013 by henrymowry in Living Life

Tagged with , , ,

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