Busy Bees & Bird Brains

Ouch. My ear still hurts. I was on the phone so long today it feels like it’s still pressing against my ear.

I started my day by phoning the Edward’s pie people. I mentioned in my post yesterday that the small single serving pie I purchased was rancid or something. I spoke to a wonderful customer service rep named Brenda, who asked me all the details of my “experience” and then set me up with a free coupon for any of their products. Yummo! Although the single serving pie I had was a cherry pie, I am totally going chocolate creme pie when I receive the coupon. Brenda was very courteous and handled the entire call in a very professional manner.

One a side note… After I wrote my post last night I noticed that Edward’s pies are part of the Schwan’s organization. No wonder their stuff is so tasty. Schwan’s totally rocks.

After speaking to Brenda about pie, I spoke to Miss Holmes at AT&T regarding our phone lines. I called to inquire about adding a second phone line here at the house to accomodate all the sales and service calls we will be getting for both our businesses. Oh sure, it may seem like I am moving a bit fast, but when we had WOOHOO.COM we needed the second line right away and we never had as many hosting customers as we have now. It just makes sense to get the second line, that way Gidget has her own line, long distance, and voice mail for Buttercup 149 and it won’t matter if I spend most of the afternoon on the phone with Aria Interactive customers.

Miss Holmes set me up with a nice package and the new line will be installed next week. We’ll hardly notice the price increase right away thanks to rebates and other promotions.

After speaking with the very polite and helpful Miss Holmes, I phoned the woman whose site I completed on Monday and gave her a couple quick tutorials on editing her new site. She was happy, which made me happy, and the day was going so well, I should have expected that “strange things were afoot at the Circle-K“.

Up to this point my day was going awesome. I was lining up business. I was streamlining some of my processes. I was developing a calendar so I have a routine (like a real job). I was making phone calls to complete a list of tasks I had on my desk, and then everything went south and gray clouds formed over my desk.

Two months ago I sent in a subscription form for a magazine the boys wanted to get. As you know from reading my blog(s), our kids are birders as well as avid amateur photographers. The magazine we subscribed too is “Birds and Blooms“. We had been purchasing copies at the store and realized it would be much cheaper to get it in the mail, so we sent in the form.

bbcoverx.jpgWithin a week or so, they received the April/May issue. All was good in the world. They spent hours thumbing through the magazine, comparing their photos to the ones printed inside it’s cover. The next few days were more quiet than normal as they each took a turn reading the stories of other birdwatchers and thoroughly enjoying the magazine.

The image to the left is the cover of the April/May issue. From the moment they finished reading it from cover to cover, they started waiting for the June/July issue. Every time we stop at the store, they look for the latest issue, even though they know we will be receiving it in the mail.

Since we received the “common yellowthroat” edition, we have seen an “oriole” edition as well as a “hummingbird” edition on the shelf at the store. I patiently reminded the kids both times that their copy will be coming in the mail and we walked past the display, never taking the time actually look at the dates on the magazines since it didn’t matter because we were subscribers now.

Fast forward to today. It’s June 10th and we still haven’t received the June/July issue. So I called them. I asked when our next issue would arrive and wondered if we had missed any issues because we saw them on the shelf at the store. I spoke to a woman who could barely speak English who proceeded to tell me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that I must have mistaken the copies I saw on the shelves for another magazine entirely, and that I need to just wait until June 26th, which is the deadline for receiving the June/July issue.

I told her about the issues we had seen at the store, and she proceeded, once again, to tell me I was a moron, that the copies I saw must have been “another magazine under the Birds and Blooms umbrella”, and our next issue would arrive by June 26th.

I asked to speak to a supervisor (for a couple reasons). I honestly believed (at the time) that something was getting lost in translation. How could anyone tell me I was wrong, when I was looking at their website to confirm what I saw and describe what we had seen on the shelf at the store.

oriole.pngThe first issue I spoke to her about was the “oriole” issue, which she proceeded to tell me did not exist. It was a figment of my imagination. She said (and I quote), “Birds and Blooms has not published an issue with an oriole on the cover in a long time.” If you notice the image to the right (which is a screen capture from their own website, you will see the issue I was speaking about. I told her it may not have been an oriole, but it sure looks like one, with a black head and an orange chest. She repeated her statement (slightly revised) and said that they have not had an issue with a bird like that on the cover in a very long time. I knew right then that she was the one who was mistaken. We saw it at the store just a couple weeks ago.

It seems calling the customer a moron is the best defense of someone who is, by the very definition, a moron.

It took quite a while for the supervisor to come on the line and when she did, things just got worse. She asked me how she could help, I explained that I was trying to find out information on the issues that had been released since around the beginning of April, and if an oriole or a hummingbird were going to be on the cover of the June/July issue. I got the same response I would have gotten if I slammed my head against the wall several times (as hard as I could). She too could barely speak English and it seemed like she was actually trying to make me lose my mind.

coverJJ09.jpgI was dumbfounded. Her only response to my question was, “The next issue of Birds & Blooms should be in your mailbox by June 26th. That was it. That was the answer. The entire answer. Of course, I pointed out the issue with the oriole on their website, as well as the issue showing the hummingbird (also shown on their website with a filename of “coverJJ09.jpg” which I am sure is an abbreviation for June/July.

The supervisor then tells me, “The hummingbird issue must be from the cover of our Birds and Blooms EXTRA magazine that is printed in the off-months from the regular Birds and Blooms magazine. I told her that was not possible as they both state Birds and Blooms and make no reference to “extra” anywhere on the cover. She told me (once again) that I was mistaken, I did not see what I thought I saw, and it was very clear that the magazine issues in question were either a separate publication all together or a figment of my imagination.

That’s when I lost it. I realized then that the staff at “customer care” for Birds and Blooms, which is a publication of Reiman Publications, had no intention of answering my questions, which were quite simple. All I wanted to know is what had been released since I sent in the subscription card, so my kids would know what they would be receiving and when. That’s it. Instead, I was called a moron, I was told that I was imagining covers that never existed, and I was told that I had to wait for June 26th. June 26th came up at least a dozen times in their responses.

bxtcoverx.jpgTake a look at the cover to the right. Notice the nice little “EXTRA” added to the title? Now look back on the other covers I showed you above. Notice the lack of “EXTRA” in the title?

As the supervisor started to repeat some printed speech she was obviously reading verbatim off of an index card or out of a “customer care binder” and offering me a subscription to Birds and Blooms Extra for the nice low price of $14.98, I interrupted her to tell her that I had no intention of purchasing another subscription for anything else related to Birds and Blooms.

The fact they offer a magazine in the “off” months is, in my opinion, nothing but an attempt to collect twice as much in subscription sales while pressuring the customer to purchase it because they think we’re nothing but a bunch of pathetic, moronic, bird-watchers with our heads in the clouds and our eyes on the trees.

I told her I would not be spending another dime on their magazine, and I won’t be re-newing my subscription when it comes time to renew. I refuse to send my money to a company that allows such actions by their employees and pressures their customers into purchasing a second subscription just to “not miss a thing” all year long.

My kids love Birds and Blooms, but when they heard what I went through today, simply to find out when their paid subscription would be arriving, they could care less about it now.

We’ll be using the money we save in subscription costs to join the Georgia Ornithological Society. Why bother reading a magazine published by a company that clearly thinks their customers are bird brains, when we can get outside and see birds up close and personal?

Needless to say, the whole magazine fiasco was frustrating, but the day ended on a good note because the kids and I sat down and watched WipeOut and forgot all about the bird brains at Reiman Publications and Birds and Bloom.

UPDATE [06/19/2009] : We received a package from a Day Anne, the senior associate from Reader’s Digest. You can read the update in my post, “Standing Tall And Taking Action“.

2 thoughts on “Busy Bees & Bird Brains

  1. Hello Mr. Barrett,

    I work for Reader’s Digest who purchased Reiman Publications a few years ago. When I came across your blog, I was a bit concerned on the way you were treated. I would be more than happy to assist you with your concerns regarding Birds and Blooms. But first, I want to apologize for the experience you had with our call center and will follow up with our training facilitators so this will not happen again to you or any of our other customers.

    In regards to the issue you have pictured above with the Oriole on it, this is the cover from Feb/March 2008 Birds and Blooms issue, unfortunately we do not have any of those issues left in inventory. It is pictured on our website in the “Subscribe Today!” feature. The other issue with the hummingbird pictured on the cover is the June 2009 Birds and Blooms issue. This is the issue you should have in your home by June 26th. If you have not already received it, I can mail you out another copy.

    Please email me back with your contact information, I would be more than willing to get your issue resolved, by telling you what issues have been published since you have subscribed and find out if you have missed any issues. If you have missed an issue, I will mail it out to you, first class mail, so you can receive it in a timely manner. I appreciate your interest in Birds and Blooms and look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Day Anne
    Senior Associate
    Reader’s Digest

  2. Good afternoon,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond on my blog regarding my “experience” with the staff at the call center for Birds and Blooms.

    Your response on my blog answered the simple questions I had when I phoned the call center in the first place. MY original inquiry was simple. I just wanted to know how many issues had been released since we mailed in our card in April, because I wanted to make sure my kids did not miss an issue.

    We mailed in our card in mid to late April if I remember correctly, so it makes sense that the only issues that have been released were the April/May issue and the upcoming June/July issue.

    Your message on my blog mentions that the Oriole issue was from Feb/March of 2008. Was that a typo? Did you mean 2009? Either way it does not matter, because it was before we subscribed to the magazine, but we did however see that issue on the shelf at our grocery store just a couple weeks ago and I wish we would have purchased it now, since our oldest son was looking forward to that one too.

    Thank you again for your response, it was just the response I was originally looking for when I picked up the phone and called the other day. It’s a shame that the call center staff was so short and rude with me, because they could have answered the question just as easily as you did.

    We will anxiously await our June/July issue and if it does not arrive by June 26th, I will let you know.

    Thank you again for your time,

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