In April 2011, I subscribed to my local newspaper, The Jackson Sun, so that I would receive coupons and advertisements each Sunday. Each week, I would bring my paper inside, clip coupons, review the ads (and the contents of my pantry), and plan my grocery shopping list. I always assumed that the paper I received was complete, and it never crossed my mind to check with someone to see if I had received all of the weekly coupon inserts.
On August 21, I opened my Sunday paper and realized that there were no coupons and that my Walgreens ad was missing. Since The Jackson Sun has a Facebook page, I posted a comment on their Wall the next morning. Within half an hour, my comment was addressed.
A few days later, I received a note from my postal carrier that I had a large envelope at the Post Office that was short on postage by thirteen cents. It was the Walgreens ad and coupons that the paper had sent me. It was annoying that I had to pay .13 to get my coupons, but I wasn’t going to complain over that little bit of money. However, I started keeping a closer eye on my paper. There were pieces missing here and there, but I was getting my coupons, so I didn’t complain.
On October 2, I received a paper that seemed a bit “skinny.” It had several coupons in it, though, so I assumed that I had what I needed. A couple of days later, I was talking to a friend who asked me if she could have a couple of coupons from Sunday’s paper if I didn’t need them. I told her I didn’t receive those coupons. She said they were in the Smart Source coupon section, which I didn’t receive (it turns out there were SEVERAL coupons I didn’t receive). I decided to address this again on The Jackson Sun’s Facebook page. Below is my original comment on their Wall, along with their reply and comments from another subscriber. I also left a follow-up comment after I received the new paper.
Notice that I made sure to point out that the paper was HAND DELIVERED to me, I believe by the publisher himself, Roy Heatherly. (They also returned my .13). After comparing the new paper to the old, I let them know exactly what I had been missing since I honestly thought this would be important to them. I thanked them AGAIN at the end of the comment. I felt I had been fair. The situation had been righted, and I acknowledged that.
So imagine my surprise when my brother called me, asking what in the world I had been posting on The Jackson Sun Facebook page. I told him that I hadn’t received all of my coupons and that I had posted this information. He then proceeded to tell me that a former co-worker (he used to work for the newspaper) had contacted him about me. Here is that brief conversation:
Up until this point, I was just a little irritated with The Jackson Sun. But after finding out that a Sun employee had complained about me to my brother, I was more than slightly peeved. Everything I posted on their Wall was FACTUAL. The only thing that could remotely be perceived as “bashing” is me calling the issue “ridiculous.” If I wanted to bash them, why on EARTH would I go back and PUBLICALLY say that they had delivered the coupons to me BY HAND? Why would I thank them TWICE in my comment?
Even though I was very displeased, I decided to just let it slide… for the moment.
That moment ended today—January 8th—when I went to get my paper. I was excited because there had been quite a bit of talk on couponing blogs about today’s paper containing up to six coupon inserts. As soon as I picked it up from my driveway, though, I KNEW that there had to be something missing. I took the paper inside and unrolled it. I found the four sections of the actual paper, the USA Weekend, a Target ad, a Best Buy ad, a Harbor Freight ad, and two packs of coupons.
I immediately posted on my own Facebook page, asking friends to let me know what all they received. Once I found out that I was missing about half my paper, I decided to post to The Jackson Sun Facebook once again. I know they want me to send a private email with my complaint, but other people should know this is going on so that they check their OWN papers. I posted and I included a reference to the employee who had complained about me to my brother. Others who have had issues commented on my post. I waited for someone from the paper to leave a comment, but no one ever did (thought they DID reply to another complaint on their Wall from a woman who hasn’t received a Sunday paper in three weeks). As of right now, my post is still being ignored. Here it is:
Since no one was addressing my complaint, I went ahead and filled out a “Damaged Paper” form on my subscription page. I also tried to cancel my subscription, but I can’t seem to find an option to do that. I went to Kroger to buy a complete paper. I went through FIVE papers before I found one that had all of the coupons. I decided to buy a 2nd paper to give to a friend. When I got home, I took my new paper apart to compare it to my original. There was such a difference between the two that I decided to take a picture:
That’s quite a difference, I would say. My original paper only had two coupon inserts. The new paper had FIVE if you count the one-page Wal-Mart insert that has coupons on the back. My new paper also contained comics, a real estate book, an Office Max sale bag, an ad for subscribing to the paper (ha ha ha ha), and advertisements for Kmart, Walgreens, Sears, and Fred’s. Oddly enough, it DIDN’T have the Best Buy ad I received in my original paper. I decided to open my friend’s paper, and it was also missing the Best Buy ad.
Now all of this might seem a bit overboard. Why would I spend the time and effort to write about this when it’s just some coupons and ads? I’m not even an “extreme” couponer since I only get one paper each week. Is this just me being contrary? Well, a little, I suppose. But it’s also about people paying for a service and a product and NOT receiving it. Yes, The Jackson Sun has righted the wrong the previous two times (and perhaps they will this time as well!), but I’m tired of this being an issue. I subscribe to the paper because it’s supposed to be more convenient. There is nothing convenient about having to call or email to ask for my coupons and then postpone planning my shopping trip until they arrive. Furthermore, I wonder how many other subscribers (as well as those who buy the paper in stores) are only receiving a partial paper each Sunday. How many people are like I used to be, assuming that the paper in their hands is complete?
I also have to wonder how the advertisers would feel if they knew that papers were going out without their ads enclosed. How many businesses lose sales each week because local customers aren’t aware of bargains and promotions that were advertised? What if I’m shopping for a new television and didn’t receive the Best Buy ad featuring one marked down to $299? What if I’m out of Prevacid and miss the great deal on it at Walgreens this week—a coupon and $10 in Register Rewards!) These businesses send out ads to draw in customers—customers like me who are trying to save money. I’m tired of subscribing to a newspaper that makes it more difficult for me to do so.
I will be cancelling my subscription to my local paper. I will have to drive to a store to buy one each Sunday, but at least this will allow me to check the paper before purchasing. I know I am only one person and my $8.75 each month will not “break” The Jackson Sun, but from what I’ve read on Facebook, I know I am not the only one experiencing this problem. Many people depend on these coupons to save their families money. Others just enjoy the thrill of a lower grocery bill. None of us want to pay for a paper and then have to ask for the rest of it. This issue needs to be addressed, especially if the paper is going to advertise “$380 worth of coupons inside!” on the front page.
This morning I received a private message from the paper's publisher, Roy Heatherly. He had seen the picture from above of the two papers. He told me that this WAS ridiculous and that he was looking into this problem.
A few minutes ago, a representative from the paper called me at home. She said that this a problem with my carrier who is responsible for putting the papers together for her route. I explained that this is not the first time this has happened and that it has also happened to others in my neighborhood. She said that they are implementing some sort of new process at the first of next month that will hopefully fix the problem. She also said that she will personally talk to the carrier and indicated that I am not the first person to complain about this particular carrier. I had not yet called and cancelled my subscription this morning, so she told me she'd credit my account for two weeks for my troubles.
She also told me that they do not receive enough coupons for every paper they place in stores, but that the papers delivered to subscribers should be complete. So for those of you who purchase in stores, make sure you check to see that you're getting everything you want.
She encouraged me to contact her directly from now on to get this corrected more easily. I explained that I understood that would be easier, but that part of the reason I post to Facebook is so that other people will know to check their own papers. I will contact the paper directly from now on, but I will also post to Facebook. If other people have carriers who aren't delivering the entire paper, they need to know to check.
I've decided I'm going to hold off on cancelling for now since the paper called and addressed this. I'm still not happy about the guy contacting my brother, and I said as much on the phone. I've been assured that this issue will also be addressed.