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Did “Girls Gone Wild” Acquire The New York Times?

The sleazy video series “Girls Gone Wild” is not only renowned for luring drunk young coeds into compromising sexual situations, but also for their horrible customer service.  The common complaint is that if you sign up to have videos sent to you, it is impossible to ever stop the delivery.  Horny college kids that signed up to see topless nineteen-year-olds ten years ago cannot stop the pornographic barrage that follows them wherever they go.  Ultimately you have to cancel your credit card and move to South America under an assumed name to stop the deliveries.

So what does that have to do with the New York Times?

Well, as I have experienced, either the Times has adopted the Girls Gone Wild business practices, or perhaps they have been secretly purchased in a fire sale by Joe Francis. Last August I called the Times to cancel my weekend subscription.  After being put on hold for an extended period of time, the operator assured me she would handle the request.  Despite the promise, for the next few weeks the paper continued to arrive, and they continued to bill my credit card.  I called twice more and wrote them to stop the delivery.  Finally the papers stopped arriving, but they continued to bill my credit card.  Every month I go through the grueling experience of calling them to complain, they assure me it will stop, but the bills keep coming.  For months I called American Express every month to get the bill credited, which they promptly took care of.  After several months Amex refused to let them bill me anymore, so now I receive bills in the mail, sometimes threatening me, despite the fact that I have not received a paper in months and everyone I talk to at the NY Times agrees I cancelled last year.

At least if I had signed up for Girls Gone Wild I would have received dozens of lewd videos when they refused to shut down my account, but The Times now just wants money for nothing.

This is particularly sad given the plight of the newspaper business.  It is disturbing to see many of our great newspapers fold.  We need them more than ever. And despite their unethical business practices, I really want to see The New York Times succeed.  But illegally billing people will not save the paper. 

I cancelled my weekend subscription because I signed up for the paper via Kindle, which for me is a much more convenient way to receive the paper.  But after receiving it for a few months on Kindle while still getting harassed from their billing department, I cancelled my subscription. And since the subscription was handled by Amazon, a company that understands and values customer service, it was handled flawlessly.

So to anyone at The New York Times, how about a deal?  You quit billing me, and I will reinstate my subscription on Kindle.

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