A few months ago, I wrote an email to the customer service department of Time magazine stating that I wanted to cancel my subscription. Although I practically grew up with the magazine being delivered to our doorstep every week and had “inherited” my parents’ subscription once I moved out, I decided the time had come to cancel it. The last few years saw me spending way more time getting my news from various sources on the internet, and there were times when I didn’t even bother to free the mag from its shrink wrap, let alone browse its contents (or you know, actually read the cover story or whatever). Which is a bit of a shame really, because Time’s reporting is usually rock solid and their commentary often (but not always) worth reading. However, it was when I realised how ridiculous their renewal rates were in comparison to new subscriptions that the decision was finalised. Of course, that’s the way it works in the print industry, but I still couldn’t help feeling cheated and like a bit of an idiot. Instead of a simple “please cancel my subscription (you bastards)” I thought I might as well have a few laughs and announce my termination in a less conventional manner. I almost felt sorry for the (quite possibly innocent) customer service guy who would get to work one morning to find my horribly deranged letter in their inbox:
Dear Sir or Madam
A few weeks ago, when my current subscription was coming to an end, I received a renewal notice and–as a long time Time subscriber since 1989–I renewed my subscription for another two years without much deliberation.
I received and intended to pay my invoice of CHF 317 for 108 issues until I happened to notice that your current offer for new subscribers stood at CHF 115 for 81 issues. The price per issue here is less than half of what I payed until now and am still being asked to pay today.
At first I felt bewilderment, then anger and then pain. Allow me to illustrate: I felt like a faithful wife who is jilted on her silver anniversary and then slapped repeatedly in the face with a wet, rotten mackerel, while her hard-drinking husband and his obnoxious, nubile, morally bankrupt secretary frolic in the nuptial bedroom. It hurts. A lot. The pain goes all the way down, through the arteries, slowly filling the ventricles until it calmly, chillingly consumes every nook and cranny of the heart. That’s how much it hurts.
Do those 19 years of loyal custom mean nothing to you? Yes, from time to time, you offered little trinkets as a token of your appreciation, sometimes you offered free one-year subscriptions to a person of my choosing, which I gladly accepted. But looking back, not only were these “gifts” anything but free (since I had paid for them–if I wanted to or not–through my higher subscription rate), you had the audacity to blatantly LIE about it. How could you?!
And yet, I realized, this is how the world works. You are a tera-byte sized bazillion-deep corporate monstrosity–I am a lone powerless slave to the wage with a mailbox and a credit card. How could I think I was the only one? Did I not realize that there was not one, but approx. 3.4 million secretaries in there soiling the sheets of our bedroom? How naive could I get?
But it is all clear to me now. I understand–maybe we were not meant for each other. Not in this world, not at this time, not like this. And although your arch-nemesis Newsweek has been wooing my hand for many years now, I have kept steadfast and sturdy and not once did I give in to his flirtatious approaches. What am I? A cheap secretary? No Sir, that I am not. I have integrity. I have morals. And I love you.
I am sorry it has to end this way, I really am. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. Goodbye.
Rather disappointingly, there was never a direct reply – and maybe predictably so. They still sent me a number of “Final Notices” and “Exclusive Renewal Offers” via snail mail for months to come, though. Each offer more pathetic than the previous one, all begging me to come back and saying how much they missed having me as a reader, etc. (But darling, I still do frequent your website from time to time!) So I guess I should be happy then.