Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Order a Magazine (Without Getting Fucked)

I know that I said I wasn't going to be posting again until I was back in Alaska, but this post has been circling in my head for days now and it's begging to get out, which lead to me stealing my dad's computer and whipping up this bad boy here.

As I mentioned I've been working for a company that orders magazines for people. We do all the data entry and take all of the customer service calls for some of the biggest magazines in the country. Now that I've been doing this for a few months I feel like I have a pretty good hand on how to not get taken advantage of and figured I'd be nice enough to share some of these tips with you. So without further ado, I present to you:

Tip #1: It's called a subscription, not a prescription.You would be astonished at how many people don't know the difference. I can't even begin to count the number of times that I've been asked to renew or cancel someone's prescription. I am not a pharmacist, that is outside of my power. My apologies.

Tip #2: Don't. It's as simple as that. Just don't order a magazine subscription. Keep your magazine reading to in the check out line as they were intended to be. Regardless of "what a good deal you got" I absolutely 120% guarantee  you that someone out there is getting a much better deal than you. You're getting twelve issues for $16.90 a year? Awesome. There's someone getting it for $10. You got that awesome preferred customer bonus of it being $7.97 to renew? Good for you, someone else just got it for buy one get a gift for free. You will always be over paying. But, if I can't talk you out of subscribing anyways and you just have to know what Kim Kardashian is doing this month, or what recipe Rachel Ray wants to teach you how to make, or what really interests the playmate of the year then make sure to pay attention to the following tips. You stubborn bunch you.

Tip #3: Don't be Canadian. I get that there's the exchange rate and all that jazz, but on average Canadians pay at least twice as much as citizens of the good ol' US of A. The US rate could go for $10 for 12 issues, while the Canadians are paying $28 for 12 issues.

Tip #4: If you really want to avoid being screwed, absolutely don't live anywhere outside of Canada or the US. While Canadians are paying that $28, someone in England is paying $40.

Tip #5: You will NEVER get a bill from a magazine for past products. You'll get an invoice for future products. I can not even begin to tell you the number of times that I've had to put on a payment for someone who just made a payment because they thought it was a bill. Or the number of times I've had to extend someone's subscription even though they sent in asking for it to be canceled because they sent in a check that they thought they owed. Think of it this way, when you buy something, anything really (things you finance excluded), you do not get the product until you have paid for it. You don't go to the grocery store, take the food, and then get a bill in the mail. You pay for it, and then you get to take it. Absolutely anything asking for money that comes to you from your magazine company is for future issues. You do not owe any money, you will not owe any money. They will not ship the magazines until they are paid for, so never fear. All that will happen if you don't pay your subscription fee is you won't get the magazine anymore.

Tip #6: Keep EXCELLENT records of when you paid for your subscription and how long you purchased the subscription for. Every invoice and renewal form that gets sent out looks like a bill, so people tend to pay them without realizing that they're buying another years worth. They also send renewal notices out multiple times a year, so make sure not to send it back with a payment unless you actually want to purchase another year. You would not believe the number of people I've put orders on for that have been rejected because they're subscribed until 2020 and have no idea they've paid that many times. You can find your expiration date on the address label. Here's a random picture I found online to show you what it will look like.

Tip #7: There are a few key words that you should write on your subscription when you sent it off to us little office fairies. I truly wish that I could set these up for everyone, but we're not allowed to do anything to them unless these key phrases are used. Are you ready?

  • "Do not sell or rent my information."
You know how you sometimes order something from one place, and then end up getting all of that junk mail from people that you've never heard of and have no idea how they found you? We gave that information to them. Companies sell names and addresses of their customers to other companies, these companies buy them to build their client base. That simple phrase is the "Do Not Call" list for junk mail. When you say those magic words we are allowed to put a block on your account so they don't show up on any of those lists. Walah. Junk mail avoided. 

  • "Do not auto renew for myself and/or gifts."
As I said before you'll never get a bill for something from the past, but saying to not auto renew makes it to where you don't have that "unpaid balance" on your account. When the subscription is coming close to an end they'll send you a renewal notice, letting you know that it's about to expire and asking if you'd like to renew. This is just nicer and less scary than getting something in the mail that makes you think you owe them money. 

Tip #8: If at any point in your adult life anyone has ever looked at anything you've written and asked "What does that say?" for the love of all things holy please, for the sake of all of us data entry techs, type out your order. It's easier for everyone involved. People write out their names and addresses for themselves and their gifts and sometimes we have absolutely no idea where we're supposed to send them, or who we're supposed to send them to because they're so hard to read. If you've ever ordered a gift subscription for someone and it ended up at your house with their name on it I can 110% promise you it's because one of us lowly peons couldn't figure out where it was going to. Also, don't write in cursive. I know, I know. It's pretty and you learned how to do it in elementary school and have to be able to use it somewhere, I get it I do. But don't. A) Sometimes your cursive isn't as pretty as you think it is and just looks like someone scribbled on the paper leading to more "what the hell are they saying?" and 2) Surprisingly enough, not everyone knows how to read cursive. I have a friend who never learned. I asked her what she did for a signature then and her response was "I dunno... I scribble?" Which is exactly what your cursive looks like to people that can't read it. 

Tip #9: Before you send it off, especially with gift subscriptions double check all of the addresses. Did you include a street number? The apartment number? Is the zip code right? Are all names spelled correctly? We go by what is written (or when the handwriting is awful what we think is written) for where we're sending that magazine to. If you said it went to Detroit but you really meant that it went to Delta, guess what? That sucks for you you're not going to get it until you realize the mistake because it's going to Delta. 

Tip #10a: This one is a two parter in regards to gift subscriptions. First, if you're canceling a gift and there is shipping, make sure to take that into consideration. If the shipping is a dollar and you're only canceling one subscription but keeping the other, that shipping cost goes down to fifty cents. These companies make thousands a year from nickle and diming people that don't realize they've over paid by a quarter here and there. They add up quickly on their end. I put on at least a hundred dollars a day on excess shipping fees because people forget to take that into consideration. Say you have two subscriptions, and each subscription costs 16.97. How it will show up on the invoice is:

Gift subscription: $33.94
Shipping: $1.00
Total: $34.94

People tend to divide the gift subscription and still pay the full shipping. Don't. Also, if you do cancel a subscription, just know that we wonder what happened. Why are you still giving to this person and not that person? Is the reason it went from Mr-Mrs John Smith to Jane Smith on your account the hussy Sally Something that you just stopped giving the magazine to? It totally is in my head. You absolutely don't have to, but you'd absolutely make someones day if you wrote something next to the cancel, even if it's not true. "Cancel, she slept with my brother." "Cancel, we had a falling out because he smells weird." Anything, it's a boring job and my favorites are getting the random funny messages people sometimes send in. 

Tip #10b: If your gift renewal has the option to put add another gift and you don't see anything on the paper about how much the new gift is do not send in money for it. Chances are very high that they'll be less than the gift that you're paying now. You don't want to pay $16.97 for a subscription that only should have cost you $10. You'll get an invoice back after the order is put on. It's worth the wait to save the money. 

Tip #11:  If you decide to not listen to those math tips and still want to try and do your own math, please show your work. The number of times I sit at my cubicle wanting to beat my monitor with my keyboard out of frustration over peoples math skills are troublesome. I'll look at the check amount and be like WHERE DID THEY GET THESE NUMBERS FROM?! So if you want to try and do your own math, please give some indication of how you got to the number on your check. Please. It saves us a lot of time and Advil. 

Tip #12: Ready for a secret? If you send in a check and it's not the amount of the invoice, but it's close enough, we'll take it. Don't feel like you should have to pay the shipping? Then don't. The system will still accept it. The systems will accept payments up to a couple dollars short as paid in full. If you have a ten dollar order and send in seven, it'll take it. But if you go down too far you'll get a bill for a weird small amount, so keep that in mind. 

Tip #13: This seems like a good tip to end on because of Halloween and superstition and all that jazz. If you have decided that you no longer want to receive anything from the magazine anymore, no issues, no renewals, no correspondence at all just tell them that you died. Send in a statement that was sent to you with "deceased" or "she died" written on it and we get to black out your record. You won't get anything from the company anymore.

And, if you ever resort to tip #13, I'd like to remind you that tip #2 would have saved you all of that trouble.