My love affair with the language cultivated over time. As most people who enjoy reading, that love can be traced to my childhood.
I can point to certain library books, one of which was a tale of a mischievous boy that seemed a lot like me, “Double Trouble for Rupert,” often borrowed from that wonderful conveyance of literacy of my youth, the Bookmobile, that rolled to a stop in the 1500 block of Latham for an hour or so on summer days.
A large part of my allure for the printed word started when my mom and dad got me my own subscription to Sports Illustrated when I was 10 years old.
That subscription is one I maintained long after someone else paid my bills, and for decades every Thursday or Friday, another issue arrived in my mailbox. As the years rolled by, as often happens with the bucketful of responsibilities that wind up on our plates, especially those who are Type As and develop what I’ve been told over time are addictions to our labors, at least mine, I found I just simply couldn’t keep up with SI. Before I knew it, I had stacks of unread editions beside the bed and on a table or two in other locations in my domicile.
So, about three years ago, I allowed the subscription to lapse, bringing an end to my 50 years with the magazine. I just found I had enough clutter in the house without adding more, and, besides, in an era where there is so much sports coverage instantly available anyway on my cell phone and iPad and constant streams of ESPN and Fox Sports coverage, I found the service to be redundant.
Sure, I would miss the feature writings, but I justified that by saying that the greatest sports writer of my times, Frank Deford, who passed away earlier this summer, really hadn’t done regular feature work for the magazine in quite some time as he turned his pursuits more to writing books and working with HBO and NPR. Any other features worthy of my time I figured I’d hear about from my sports-savvy pals and snag an issue off the newsstand.
However, after I jumped the old SI ship and stopped paying my annual rate of somewhere north of 150 bucks, an amazing thing began happening. I began seeing coming into my mailbox all these “we-want-you-back” offers from the magazine with rates that were far less at first than what I was paying and, then, when I resisted more, far, far less!
Finally earlier this summer, SI’s latest offer dropped to an all-time low, twenty bucks for a full year and an NFL team hoodie of my choice as a gift for coming back. So I’m back in the SI family. It just dropped to such a ridiculous low that I couldn’t resist. And, FYI, I’m doing a pretty decent job of keeping up!
It occurred to me that never was there, for the fifty years I was a loyal subscriber, any offer of a reduced rate. It was only when I jumped ship. And, in a way, each time I threw away a descending rate offer, from 25 percent off to half off and beyond until it reached that low-water mark of twenty bucks, I suppose I was engaging in some form of tacit negotiation, where my ignoring the offers somehow spawned ever lower offers.
How patently crazy it seems to me not to reward your most loyal customer base. When it comes to the world of consumerism, it’s not all that uncommon, especially when it comes to nonessential services, that those who either threaten to leave a service entirely such as Spectrum Cable or XM radio suddenly see a reduction in their bills while those who remain loyal continue to pay premium pricing.
A case in point came not long ago when a trial six-month XM package ended that came with a new Chevy Malibu that I purchased from my go-to car salesman, Steve Morrison, out at Lima Auto Mall.
When it ended, I called XM to ask for the price of a year’s worth of service and heard two hundred dollars. I balked and told the rep that certainly more than I was willing to pay. The amazing response from the other end of my phone was, “Well, what price would you be comfortable?”
I threw out a hundred bucks, thinking she would say a full 50 percent off surely was out of the question. Instead I heard, “That’s not a problem, Mr. Grindrod. We can make it a hundred.”
When I hung up, I couldn’t help but think about all the loyal customers of satellite radio out there who, like clockwork, churn out the two hundred bucks every year without there ever being an offer I received for being willing to live without the product.
And, so it goes in the often wacky world of consumerism, that the best deals so often come when you’re willing to walk away. So, don’t be afraid to do without or push back a bit, especially with those nonessential services, consumers. Paradoxically, you’ll often find that those who deserve the least often get the most!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.