The Internet Is Not Killing Newspapers – They are Killing Themselves

The newspaper industry has been blaming the Internet for its immanent and perhaps inevitable demise for decades.  Let’s forget the convenient facts like paywalls don’t work because I can get the information elsewhere for free.  Or that the subscription price of a newspaper I buy at the store or have delivered to my door covers the cost of physical delivery of the physical paper newspaper, and the advertising revenue pays for the content.  This cost of delivery is reduced to nearly zero when I read the news online.  Or their failure to be first to market with a healthy, advertising supported web based news operation.  They were already there, but they let others enter first and steal their lunch.

Maybe the reason newspapers are dying is the atrocious customer service.

When you write a blog, like I do, it is possible to get a little revenge from time to time.  This article is aimed at the St Paul Pioneer Press.  On a day in June, while my wife and I were travelling for five days of business and five days of vacation, the St Paul Pioneer Press withdrew $2400 from our joint checking account.  Surprise!

What follows was written by my spouse, who was directly involved with this problem.  The story goes like this:  During our trip I received a call from the Pioneer Press about our expired subscription.  This was on the first day we were gone, and I told them it would be paid by check when we returned.  Two days later during the trip I received another call asking for payment, rather than fighting it out again, I agreed to give her my debit card information to pay the bill and get a “great new offer.”

A few days later during the trip I logged into the checking account to that verify balances were ok. The balance was much lower than I expected and in the investigation I found out that $2433.00 was taken out of our account by the Pioneer Press.  I called the Pioneer Press customer service line, and was told the charge would be reversed “in a few days.”  Since we were traveling, that was going to be a problem, so I asked to speak to a manager.  I was transferred into a manager’s voice mail, and given the option to leave a message.  I was told the manager would call back as soon as possible.  I explained that we were on vacation and this was a problem, when the manager called back (Cassandra), she had an attitude.  I was told mistakes happen and that she kept enough money in her account for mistakes like this and that I should too.  It was after all human error and the reversal was in process and would be put back into the account.  When I asked how soon, she could not provide me with an answer.  When I asked who  is going to cover the $30.00 in overdraft charges from my bank and the interest that was owing on the line of credit that was fully advanced she indicated that I needed to PROVE to her that this was what had caused the issue and to send bank documentation to prove it.  After more arguments and not getting any further I told her to cancel the entire subscription and refund that money as well.  She said fine and hung up.

The money was refunded 6 days later, in the meantime I borrowed enough from our son’s savings account to cover the line of credit payoff and to give us enough money for the rest of the vacation.  The bank did what they could for me and refunded $20.00 of the fees that I had been billed.  There is no way I am going to provide “Cassandra” with any additional documentation regarding my accounts, so I have eaten the rest of the fees.

But wait there’s more!!  I have been called every other day since the cancellation by the Pioneer Press sales crew asking me to renew my subscription.  So far I have had at least two of them make sure the recording system was on while I told my story about such awful customer service and lack of caring on the part of the manager that I spoke to.  I have gotten horrified responses from the sales people when I tell them my story and apologies, but has anyone offered to give me a few months free paper or offered another option to regain me as a customer?  NO!  We have been a client for many years and even delivered papers for this company.  I guess this is the new way customer service is handled in this era.  I sold for Dayton’s for many years went through major training sessions and we were taught “the customer is always right”.  Not sure where that attitude has gone, maybe because we no longer have to speak face to face, we no longer have to care.

SO Lastly – If you instincts tell you it is not a good idea – go with it.


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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