Sports Illustrated is mad at me. They've sent me quite a collection of nasty letters stating that my account is in arrears, pay up now. They're tired of asking.
Now I've had some deadbeat journalism clients in my time, so I understand the frustration. The problem is, their own records say I've paid.
It started when I called in to see what it would take to switch my premium from a t-shirt to the Colts wind jacket my brother wanted for Christmas. "That's our online offer," the customer service rep told me, and she proceeded to walk me through the steps to pay that way. They sent me an electronic receipt on November 8, and the full amount appeared on my credit card two weeks later, which I paid. They mailed me both a t-shirt and the jacket in the same package.
End of story.
Until these "you owe us" duns started pouring into my mailbox. I called immediately after the first, explained my story and was assured they erased it. I ignored the next two, waiting for the database to catch up with mailing. But this week the language was very hostile, so I picked up the phone again. The 800 number asked me to punch in my account code (handily printed in the upper hand corner of the letter), and a recording cheerfully announced I was paid through November 23,2010.
Definitely time to hit 0 and talk to a live person ... in India.
I tell my tale of woe to "Diana," who informs me that the record shows my account is paid up. Yes, I said patiently, so why am I still receiving letters accusing me of welching on the bill? Diana goes into investigative mode big time now, asking me when and how I paid. Sigh. "Online on November 8," I repeated.
"Oh, I'll bet our letter crossed your check in the mail," she replies. "If you get it again, be sure to call us back."
Yah, so I can spend another half-hour of my life getting useless advice of this caliber. I hung up too stunned to ask for a supervisor, whom I'm sure would require American Sign Language to communicate.
It took less than 15 minutes for me to state my case in the most old-fashioned form of all. I mailed a letter to their Tampa headquarters with copies of my receipts, and a threat of my own: Send me another dunning letter and I'm canceling the subscription.
And you'll have to come to Greenwood to get that stinky t-shirt out of my laundry pile.