Why Ad Men Become Mad Men

, , , , | Working | October 12, 2017

(I call the local paper to inquire about posting a four-line ad in the classified section. It turns out the ad will be classified in a different category than I thought ,and will therefore be four times the cost. Not wanting to pay $60 for the ad, I thank the person on the line but tell them I will not be placing the ad after all. Simple. I think that is the end of it. But, no. A few days later:)

Caller #1: “This is [Caller #1] from [Town] paper. I need to speak to [My Name].”

Me: “You’ve reached her.”

Caller #1: “You recently placed an ad in our paper under someone else’s account.”

Me: “No, I didn’t. I inquired about an ad, but did not place one. I didn’t put in under any account at all.”

Caller #1: “We have the ad billed to [Person I’ve never heard of]’s account. You can’t place an ad under someone else’s account.”

Me: “I didn’t place an ad at all. You’ve made a mistake.”

(I hang up. The phone rings again.)

Caller #1: “Don’t hang up on me! You’ve fraudulently placed an ad under someone else’s account!”

Me: “What ad was placed?”

Caller #1: “I don’t have that information.”

Me: “Look. I called your paper to inquire about an ad. I didn’t end up placing it. The ad I intended to place had my information, and my information only. I have no idea what you are talking about. I told you that already.”

Caller #1: “The ad was placed with the phone number of another person’s account.”

Me: “Really? The ad I wanted to place included this number, the phone number you called to reach me. Clearly this is my number. Does someone else have an account under my number?”

Caller #1: “No. The account is under a different phone number.”

Me: “Did my ad post? Just a second, while I look in the paper.” *I do so.* “There is no ad in either the section I thought it would go in, or the section I was told it would go in. No ad was posted. There seems to a problem in billing. It is not my problem.”

(I hang up again. When the phone doesn’t ring immediately, I again think it is over. A few hours later the phone rings.)

Caller #2: “Hello, I’m trying to reach [My Name].

Me: “You’ve reached her.”

Caller #2: “Hi, my name is [Name given to me by Caller #1] and the newspaper tells me that you’ve place an ad in the classified section using my account.”

Me: “Well, the newspaper is wrong. I called them a few days ago to inquire about an ad. It turned out to be way more expensive than I’d thought, so I did not post it. I posted no ad at all. The only information I gave them was my own. The only phone number I gave them was the number you called. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Caller #2: “Well, they told me to call you and that maybe we could work it out.”

Me: “There is nothing to work out. This has nothing to do with me. Someone at the paper has made a mistake. They are the only ones who can fix it. Someone has just transposed numbers or something. Our phone numbers must be pretty similar.”

Caller #2: “No, actually. Our numbers are not even remotely close, and one must give a password to place an ad on my account.”

Me: “Okay, this is ridiculous. I certainly never gave your number, never gave a password of any kind, and actually never even placed an ad. If you are being billed for an ad that never ran, you need to take that up with the paper. This has nothing at all to do with me.”

(I hang up. Yup, the phone rings again a bit later. It is the lady from the paper.)

Caller #1: “We need to get this taken care of.”

Me: “Listen. I’ve had enough of you. Any mistake made has nothing to do with me. You need to stop bothering me. Figure it out from your end.”

Caller #1: “We can—”

Me: “I’ve been patient. You really just need to stop talking. Let me speak to a supervisor or stop calling me. Those are the only two options I’m giving you.”

Caller #1: “Fine!”

Supervisor: “Hello, I understand you have placed an ad under someone else’s account.”

Me: “Listen to me carefully. I will say this once. I called about possibly placing an ad. While doing so, I gave my name and my phone number. My phone number was to appear in the ad. That is the only phone number I gave during the call. Before the call was over, I was given a quote for cost. I determined it to be too high and did not authorize the ad. I was asked for no billing information, as there was no reason to be billed. I. Did. Not. Place. An. Ad. Have I made myself clear?”

Supervisor: “You placed no ad at all?”

Me: “No.”

Supervisor: “Okay. We’ll look into things on this end. Thank you for your time.”

(That was the last I heard from them. I never tried to place any sort of ad in that paper again!)

Left You Hanging     

, | Buffalo, NY, USA | Right | July 31, 2017

(My coworker takes this call towards the end of the day:)

Coworker: “Thank you for calling [Newspaper]. [Coworker] speaking. How may I help you?”

Caller: “Yes, I have a question. Can you help me?”

Coworker: “I’ll try. What is your question?”

Caller: *in a very snippy tone* “Well, THANK YOU very much!” *hangs up*

Coworker: “What just happened?”

It’s An Obitual Hazard

| Buffalo, NY, USA | Right | April 26, 2017

(I work in obituaries and someone called to place one for their aunt.)

Customer: “So when do I need this in by to have this in the Sunday edition?”

Me: “The deadline is Friday…”

Customer: *interrupting* “HOW DARE YOU!”

Me: *confused* “Ma’am?”

Customer: “You are an insensitive, horrible person for saying that word! I have just lost someone very close to me and you use a term like that… What, are you trying to rub it in?”

Me: “Um… well deadline is a term we use often in the newspaper industry. I’m sorry to have offended you.”

Customer: “Ugh, fine. What’s the word limit?”

Me: “It depends. The cost goes up the longer it is.”

Customer: “What?! You would actually CHARGE me for that service?”

Me: “Yes, it costs money to have obituaries put in our paper.”

Customer: “You people are such opportunistic vultures, just waiting around for people to die so you can get as much money from their grieving families as you can! You are monsters!” *click*

Me: “Well, guess you won’t have it in by the deadline, then…”

Specifically About Things

| WA, USA | Working | March 4, 2017

(I’m a reporter at a newspaper. The following conversation happens between me and another reporter within minutes of me getting to the office. Note: As reporters, it’s essential we know how to ask questions to get information we want and need. Seems pretty obvious, right?)

Coworker: “Have you spoken to [Our Editor]?”

Me: “Today? Yesterday? When?”

Coworker: “Whenever.”

Me: “About?”

Coworker: “Anything.”

(Pause.)

Me: “Yes, I have spoken to [Our Editor] at various points in the past about things.”

Coworker: “That’s not helpful.”

Stopping The Presses Is No Sweat-Er

| Santa Ana, CA, USA | Right | January 23, 2017

(I’m a page designer at a community paper in Southern California and work a later shift than the reporters and editors. Around 10 pm one night the phone rings.)

Me: “Hi, [Newspaper]. Can I help you?”

Woman: “I hope so. This is terrible.”

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Woman: “You published a story about me today. I don’t like the photo.”

Me: “Okay… Which story was this?”

Woman: “It’s the one about [describes her job].”

Me: “Oh, yes, I know that one. I designed that page.”

(I call up the page from our PDF archive and I’m relieved I didn’t crop the photo wrongly. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with the photo — she’s sitting in a nicely decorated and furnished living room.)

Me: “Can you tell me what’s wrong with the photo? I’m looking at it and it looks OK to me.”

Woman: “I don’t like the sweater I’m wearing.”

Me: “The sweater?”

Woman: “Yes, I bought a new one for the interview and photo but I forgot to put it on.”

Me: “…”

Woman: “Can you do something about it?”

Me: “Um, not really. The paper’s been printed and it’s online so basically that’s it.”

Woman: “You mean you can’t take another photo of me in the new sweater and publish the story again?”

Me: *I literally did not know what to say at this point* “Er… no.”

Woman: “Oh.” *hangs up*

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