I phoned my local newspaper and asked why I was being billed the same amount every six weeks instead of every twelve. The way I figured, I was being charged double. But I’ve been told many times that the way I figure is all wrong, so I prepared to state my case.
“The revision to your bill reflects the numerous premium editions you enjoy throughout the year—the Return to School, the Cubs Playoff Preview and the seasonal holiday editions to name a few,” said Lydia the rep, cheerily and breathlessly.
“What if I don’t want the Premium Editions?” I asked, matching Lydia’s cheerfulness without challenging her use of “revision” rather than “exorbitant price gouging.”
“Then you can opt out of the Premium Editions,” said Lydia, cheerful as ever.
“If I opt out, will I get a stripped-down version or no version at all?” I hid the tone of skepticism that I’d lose out somewhere down the line.
“You’d receive the Premium Issue.”
“Hmmm. Even if I opt out?”
“Even if you opt out.”
“Hmmm. Without paying for it?” I hid the tone of skepticism that if it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true.
“Yes, because you are a Valued Customer.”
“Well, Lydia, a lot of businesses call me a Valued Customer, but they don’t give me something for nothing. They just try to flatter me so I’ll pay more.”
“We’re not like that,” replied Lydia.
I could think of nothing to say other than, “Thank you, Lydia.” I didn’t say I’m blind so I listen to the e edition, nor that I love when my wife reads aloud the Sunday print edition over breakfast. Nor the existential question, “How did I become a Valued Customer? And, Lydia, how do I attain that stature in all my affairs?