Customer Service at The New Yorker

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 9:03 AM
Topic: New Yorker Customer Service Questions

I’m not sure who to contact about my question, but I appreciate any guidance you can give me.

My problem is with the DVD set I ordered soon after it’s initial release.

I paid $99 for it and didn’t use it as much as I would have liked because it was so clumsy. Now it sits on the bookshelf, unused. When I see a better solution–the external drive–for three times as much (I think), I feel taken advantage of because I not only took a risk as an “early adopter” of the technology, but got pushed to the back of the line for a superior technology. I would have been better off waiting for a product I didn’t realize was being developed. Why wasn’t there a discount offered to those of us who are at a disadvantage for underwriting the development of the technology? Why isn’t there a program wherein I can trade my cumbersome, antiquated set of DVD’s for the same thing on a useable media format? I’m sorry to say, I regret having spent the money on a resource I truly would have treasured and, as a freelance writer, I can hardly afford to simply run out and make another investment like my first one.

I can’t possibly be the only person concerned with this oversight of your loyal customers.

Would you point me in the direction of a solution?

Thanks very much,

Sari Gordon

Hi, SariI completely understand your feelings on this and yes, we actually did offer a discount of $60 for those who had already purchased the DVD set. Since we don’t have email addresses or records on everyone who purchased the DVD set (as there are those who did not purchase the set directly from us), we sent the promotion out to as many people as we could that had the DVD set. If you call us at 800-897-8666, and speak to one of our customer representatives, they will give you the $60 rebate on your hard drive. The only thing you should know is that you cannot get personalized engraving if you order over the phone, but you can if you order online. If you would prefer to order it online, then let me know, because I will have to provide you with a code I create so you can receive your $60 off the hard drive.Sincerely,April M

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 12:28 PMThanks April, for such a nice, personal response.I wish I could say the offer was a good one, but I still don’t think it’s quite fair that i paid $100 for something that became obsolete within a year (?) and replaced by something much better suited to what I need. To be honest, I’ve only used the set once or twice because the DVD switching back and forth was too much of an obstacle for the quick searches I need to do. I would have leapt at the chance to buy the plug-in version for a higher price. To buy that now with $60 off, still means I’m paying MORE to get what I needed in the first place and if I do buy it, I have a useless DVD set. I think a more reasonable scenario would have been to offer the DVD set with the understanding that the technology was like a “beta release” and that for signing on early, subscribers would be rewarded with preferential treatment for basically buying a “beta release” of a new venture for The NewYorker. You spent less advertising money to secure me as a customer and yet a customer who buys the external hard drive device gets a better deal, which you paid more ad dollars to sell and that customer got a product which might have been developed on the backs of those of us who trusted The New Yorker to respect the value of long-time readers. Think of us as “members” who receive club benefits by supporting the club for years and are therefore given priority over “guests” or newcomers.I beg your forgiveness for my long email. I broke my leg yesterday and the pain medication is making it hard to write clearly.Let me know what you think,


Sari Gordon

Mon Oct 9 12:33:34 CDT 2006

Hi, Sari -I hate to hear that we would lose a customer based on this. Did you purchase the set through us, because I cannot find you in our records? Perhaps you purchased with a different name than Sari?We offered the rebate for the very reason you describe–we didn’t want to penalize those who already owned the DVD set. We had to come up with a number that seemed fair for all – those who purchased early, and those who purchased later. I do appreciate your position as far as not really using the set and wanting the hard drive. I can safely tell you, as I was primarily involved in the hard drive product, that we didn’t know we were going to create the hard drive product when the DVD set came out.So, what can I do for you that would encourage you to purchase the hard drive? Maybe there is a compromise somewhere in between? Please let me know and I will try to accomodate your request.I hope you’re feeling better after your leg break. That’s terrible!

Email me or call me at 800-897-8666 before Friday (my last day here) so I may assist you.



[Friday morning—April’s last day at work]Dear April,It does help knowing that the hard drive wasn’t on the horizon when the DVD version was released. At that point, I was just happy to have the material available to me. What I wanted most was the ability to quickly cross-reference any topic, author, illustrator or letter on the fly. The value being, as I’m sure you’re aware, that The NewYorker ‘s history would no longer be simply a bibliography, but a portal to a virtual experience of an era.My husband thinks I’m just too impatient to swap the disks out, but I say the experience of reading, say, a Jon Lee Anderson battlefield portrait and then quickly pausing to retrieve a similar report from war-time France or England and seeing them side-by-side would be an enhancement of geometric proportions. That pause has to be short one, and the dickering about with disks would surely fumble that fleeting alchemical moment when a higher understanding of human nature is so briefly illuminated.

I say my husband is the one whose judgment has been clouded by impatience. He, for example, thinks I should simply drop the matter altogether and enjoy what I have now. I submit that I am the one willing to persevere. I’ve experienced setbacks, such as the premature and perhaps impulsive purchase of the DVD Collection. Indeed, I live with the perennial vagaries of the freelance writer’s income based as it is, on a net-90 post-publication schedule. I do realize I can’t have medallions du canards for my every mid-day nourishment. I’ve stooped to kippers and Saltines during more than one lean season as a humble scrivener.

What I’m saying April, on this, your last day of work (which I hope has only been only a mere stepping stone on your path to stellar achievements and fulfilling pursuits), is that I will maintain my current state of apprehension for the portable, external hard drive version of The NewYorker. The wait, I’m quite sure, will only sweeten the exquisite pleasure I will receive when I can, for instance, stray from an enjoyable Anthony Lane review just long enough to satisfy a vague, tertiary, yet nagging question like, “I wonder when The New Yorker first published the word, ‘shit’?” Won’t the answer to that seemingly trivial, nay juvenile query in fact provide exactly the type of extrapolation I was told would bring me great riches when I pursued and finally secured my liberal arts degree? Wouldn’t the speedy result of such an answer be even more richly rewarding than if I were to, say, spend an hour looking for the information and thereby risking the slow degeneration of my grasp of the original question and even, I daresay, of the completely stupidity of the fledgling interrogative?

As you can plainly see, my time is precious and I don’t fritter it away with expeditions of folly.

In conclusion, my dear Ms. M, I would like to extend my thanks for your kind attentions, to wish you Godspeed on your upcoming prospects and expeditions and assure you that, in lieu of a straightforward exchange of products (mine being the Collection, which I purchased through and which your staff, though likely shaken by your departure, could shrink wrap and re-sell for the full price–though not, I submit, for the value of said material, and yours being the external Hard Drive I so shamefully covet), I should like to offer a conclusion to our negotiations.

For though generous I may be with my words (and I trust, dear Ms. M, that you are the sort of woman who can accept such a confession with all the discretion I know you must value), I cannot afford that same expansive gesture with regard to my finances. Yes, Ms. M, the lean times loom for your piteous correspondent, though the bright rays of hope–though presently obscured by the ominous clouds of despair–will shine on me once again, especially, dare I say, once I get back to the work I am currently avoiding by writing you this inane missive. I must admit and tarry no longer: I can’t afford to offer a compromise which would respectfully compensate The New Yorker.

Enjoy your weekend and whatever hiatus you may have between careers and thanks for the opportunity to goof around while I keep my leg elevated after flinging myself and my beloved Italian motorcycle into a vast stretch of asphalt and gravel, an apt metaphor for my current dilemma with your esteemed publication.

All My Best,

Sari Gordon

November 9, 2006Still no answer.

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