Thursday, March 29, 2007

Coming Soon!

To a computer screen near you. From the people who brought you Red Hats at Sunrise and A Seasoned Greeting. An original BlogFreeSpringfield production. Check for dates and times.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hard to Defraud: Subscription to destruction

Last week, for the first time ever, I donned the cape of crusading consumer and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau because I believe that just because meth is illegal doesn’t mean that those who sell it shouldn’t be held to the same standards of business ethics that more licit concerns must abide by.

Actually, it wasn’t a drug deal gone bad that prompted me to go all Clark Howard*, it was my poorly thought-out decision to try and procure magazines through a cut-rate, Web-based subscription service. And I thought that, while the good folks at the BBB are hot on the case, I’d turn up the heat even further by publicly upbraiding, in front of the tens of readers who visit BFS, the dastardly bastards who made off with my $24.79: (just typing their name causes the venom to build in my throat.)

First off, let me explain how I came to be seduced by the siren of greatly discounted magazine subscriptions despite the fact that I am naturally skeptical of deals too “super” to believe.

I love to read. Throughout the day, whenever I have even a minute or two of down time, I quickly search for something to read. Since the newspaper is usually exhausted by breakfast’s end and my current book is relegated to the night stand for nocturnal enjoyment, I’ve found magazines to be indispensable for feeding my reading jones throughout the day.**

Last summer I gradually let most of my subscriptions expire. Some I had grown tired of and others forced my hand with their high renewal fees. And so it was that I found myself one day pitifully flipping through one of my wife’s copies of Good Housekeeping, trying in vain to find a story that wasn’t about the triumph of the human spirit, or weight loss. It’s clear to me now that I was in the full throes of withdrawal and, in my desperation, I succumbed to the call of a Web site offering one full-year of the New Yorker for $6.84, that’s 47 issues at a mere fraction of the newsstand price. It was such an enticing deal that I also signed-up for Men’s Health and a few magazines for my wife and kids.

I was informed at checkout that it would be 8-10 weeks before the magazines would arrive; a devastating lag time for a rag junkie, but the penny pincher in me convinced me that I could hold out. That was back on September 2, of last year. Here we are now, halfway through March, and I’ve yet to receive a single issue of any of the magazines.

I contacted them numerous times through their online order inquiry application and through email. Most of my pleas for satisfaction went unheeded. The one response I did receive told me that the order was delayed and it would be another six weeks. When that proved to be an empty promise, I continued to email, but my pleadings fell on absent ears. I became convinced that they had me pegged for a patsy who would continue to politely inquire about my order without ever doing anything about it. Little did they know that they would push me to the tipping point.

After one more inquiry went unanswered, I stormed over to the BBB’s Web site to lodge my complaint. With a steely intensity that was reminiscent of Charles Bronson at his most vengeful, I undauntedly filled out their online complaint form. After reviewing my entry for accuracy, I coldly took aim on the send button. With my finger hovering just over the mouse, I took a moment to imagine the executives of, sitting around an oak-paneled conference room and laughing through their expensive cigars, cigars partially financed by my ill-gotten $24.79. The anger rose up inside me and I slammed my finger down on the mouse.*** The blast from my right-click caused my desk chair to recoil a good twenty feet.

As I pushed myself back towards the desk and the smoke cleared from the computer screen, a calming sensation came over me. I realized that I had just single-handedly brought down their entire operation. Sure, maybe some innocent IT people will lose their jobs as a result, but collateral damage is to be expected when you’re dead-set on justice.

I was naïve in thinking that I could ever get the New Yorker for 14.5 cents an issue. But was stupid in thinking that I was just another deep-pocketed sophisticate who likes obscure comics that provide “commentary on contemporary mores.”**** Now that they’ve felt the heat from my wrath they’ll probably embark on some safer venture, like hijacking cocaine shipments being smuggle by murderous Peruvian drug cartels.

Oh yeah, one more thing, don’t buy magazines at The final twist of the sword.

*I thought of using Ralph Nader here, but today he is less known as a consumer advocate than as a third-party disruptor. Clark Howard, if you don’t know, hosts a nationally syndicated consumer affairs show on WMAY. The guy has make a mint from being a tightwad and whistleblower, and his show is quite entertaining, in an informative kind of way.

** Magazines are also great for shoring up any deficiencies you might have on popular topics of conversation. For example, my ability to converse somewhat intelligently on sports isn’t the result of actually watching events as they unfold live, but rather from my periodic perusals of Sports Illustrated (along with my daily digestion of the sports page.) As a result, I can speak quite confidently and with reasonable authority when saying that SIU-Carbondale courted a better basketball team than our flagship U of I team this year, and this despite the fact that I didn’t witness a dribble of action in either’s postseason games.

***I was going to say something cool before I shot off my complaint but I didn’t want to appear trite.

****A BFS t-shirt to the first person who can name the actor who recited this line.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

So Nobody Does the Sunday Crossword?

I'm so sure people. Somebody besides Russ must know someone who kicks out the Sunday crossword each week. Don't tell me BFS attracts a Jumble crowd.

I wrote a story for this week's Heartland Magazine about a dance class for people with Down Syndrome. Much better than my words are Lane Christiansen's pictures. It's quite inspirational.

I plan to write more about it later, but I heartily endorse attendence at the Movie Geeks Club.

I just downloaded the Style Council's "My Ever Changing Mood." Like a bottle of good wine, it's grown more interesting with age.

I think that the Abstract Prosaic should start blogging again because there are too many bloggers who aren't witty and non-sociopathic. There's a void.