We recently moved to a new place, and therefore needed to find someone to take over the lease on our old place. The property management people suggested we place a classified advertisement in the local newspaper, so TPK tried to do just that.

First, she attempted to place the advertisement online, but she was frustrated when the website failed to process the payment and served up errors instead.

Second, she called the newspaper directly and gave them the ad over the phone. In the process, the size of the ad was increased from six lines to eight lines because they wouldn’t use the abbreviations that TPK had given them. The increased length made the ad much more expensive than she was willing to pay.

Third, she typed up a letter with the text of the ad exactly as she wanted it printed, then sent it to the newspaper along with payment for a six-line advertisement. They called her back and said they wouldn’t publish the ad since it used what they considered “non-standard” abbreviations–although they didn’t specify which abbreviations were “non-standard” in the ad. She told the newspaper to rip up the check.

Finally, she went back to the newspaper website and created a very short ad with no abbreviations and a link to a Craigslist entry where interested parties could read more about the house. The process actually worked, but she got an email from the newspaper shortly thereafter, informing her that they were unwilling to publish the ad because “We do not publish other publications [sic] web addresses.”

As TPK says, “It was at this point that I gained enlightenment, and told them to go to hell.” I find it interesting that at no time did the newspaper ever explain what the verboten abbreviations were, nor did they seem in any way interested in helping TPK put together a six-line advertisement that was agreeable to both parties.

Now compare the process TPK went through to place the advertisement on the local Craigslist website: she typed up the ad quickly since she’s a fast typist, listing as many features of the house as she could think of, then added a few pictures. In less than an hour, it was published and available for everyone to see. (We know people saw the listing because as we finished cleaning the house, we saw several drive-bys of the place; at the time, Craigslist was the only place where we had advertised.) The advertisement was free, and she could edit or delete it at any time. They didn’t squawk at her abbreviations, but she didn’t need to make any since she had as much space as she needed to describe the place. All this led TPK to say to the local newspaper, in her best Queen’s English: “J00 R T3H SUX0RZ!! LOLZ!!11! 33T MY L33T SK1LLZ B33zn@tCh!”

She is silly.

During the time I was watching and laughing from the sidelines, it struck me just how unfriendly the print media has become. We were actively trying to give them money to print a simple advertisement, and they were actively thwarting us at every turn. Why would I continue to help a business that is no longer useful or necessary, particularly when they insist on being user-unfriendly? Unless the print media figure this out and change their ways, I see them withering like a pulled weed in the sun.

In other news, we now have a brand new phone number. Since it wasn’t on the Do Not Call list from day one, we’ve been getting numerous telemarketing calls, especially from security services. I was tempted to say, “Tell me, does your security service help protect us from really annoying telemarketer calls like this one?”

Caller ID is a wonderful thing to help screen out telemarketers, but some of the buggers have been leaving voice mail messages. So TPK decided to fix that. Using her best professional voice, she created a voice mail message that says, “For telemarketing, soliciting, and political calls, please press * now.” Then she pauses a few seconds to prompt them to do so before continuing with the message. When goofy telemarketers follow her instructions and press the star key, the voice mail system says “Goodbye” and hangs up.

Since this voice mail message was added, we’ve received no voice mail messages from telemarketers. With any luck it won’t take too long for our number to percolate through the Do Not Call list, and they’ll leave us alone entirely.

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