Monday, July 28, 2008

Moving House and Moving My Magazines With Me: About Fortune

I'm moving house and one annoying part is redirecting all my magazines. Yes, I read a lot of magazines and newspapers. I've had to change my address online for 1 daily business newspaper, 3 newsweekly magazines, 7 monthly magazines and the experience has been a royal pain in the butt if you'd like to know, with one exception.

The exception is Fortune Magazine. They had a terrific online customer service interface and made it a piece of cake to change my address. I don't know who's running their website, but they need a promotion, a raise and a bottle of champagne. But more about what they did RIGHT in a minute. Here's what everyone did wrong.

I know when you arrive at a publication's website, there are a lot of things that a particular magazine is trying to tell you all at once -- about their current issue, about a new conference they might be sponsoring, about new subscription deals, about upcoming issues, about advertising -- but nearly every site made it REALLY DIFFICULT to even find the place where I could just change my address. Why does it have to be so hard?

Then you would reach the page for customer service and most of them are pushing you to first register your email address and go through about 15 extra steps before you can just simply change your address. And I am sitting here at my desk with a pile of the actual magazines with the actual mailing labels ... which should make it a no-brainer ... but au contraire!

Only about half of them bothered to show me a sample address label and where to find my customer subscriber ID number. And even those guys didn't explain it very well. There are usually three letters to start with that DON'T MATTER and they want you to ignore, but it's not obvious. And the number ends with a / and then more numbers which the folks in mag subscription land also seem to find obvious, that anything after the slash, and the slash, of course, don't matter. Okay, fine, well, good for you all, but maybe we mere mortals don't get that.

Then the online address forms are stiff and unforgiving and you push SUBMIT and all sorts of dumb little things come back WRONG with red stars and you can't figure out why.

Then even when you do it right, most sites return a screen with your OLD ADDRESS in big print and a tiny message saying they did receive the change but it won't be in effect for 2 weeks. Why can't they show you the new address you just typed in and say this is what we received and it will change in 2 weeks. Seeing the OLD ADDRESS makes you think you have not accomplished your task after 15 screens and endless attempts. Duh, duh, duh!

So Fortune Magazine (I love you guys!) didn't commit these sins. They made it easy, they found my address fast, they took care of business. And even better ... they happened to know I had two other magazines I needed to change and brought those up on a polite little list, asking me if they should change the address for me on those magazines too. YES! YES! YES! Thank you! Sitting on my desk next to me with packing tape, scissors, a list of items still to pack, a big bottle of Tylenol, and a thousand of details of my moving house fiasco, was a big pile of magazines and they just took away the trouble of changing the addresses for two of them. Way to go Fortune! How fortunate for me!