magazineLook, I love Men’s Health magazine, and not just because at least once each issue for the last five years — I’ve been keeping track! — an article has mentioned the University of Florida. I had my subscription set to automatically renew every year. But when I switched banks from Washington Mutual to Bank of America they were unable to process the charge. My subscription didn’t expire until September, so I wasn’t too worried about it, even though they started sending me renewal notices in May.

Now, one of the slightly annoying things about this otherwise terrific magazine is the astounding number of new subscription postcards embedded in it. The first thing I do when it arrives in the mail is shake all those cards into the recycle bin. And then there are another two or three that you have to tear from the binding. Each one boldly exclaims the value of getting a full year subscription for $19.97. So I was a little irritated when I realized that my renewal amount due was $29.97.

Because, in general and as a rule, I abhor having to use the telephone for things like this, I visited the Men’s Health website and submitted a support request. I asked why in the world I — a subscriber for over a decade — would renew for $29.97 when I could simply cancel my subscription and get a new one for $19.97. A few days later I received an email telling me that they would let me renew my subscription for the “discounted” new subscriber rate … as long as I called customer service.

So I called the 800 number and listened to the automated prompts. “Press 1 to renew or cancel your subscription,” was the first option, so I did that. But the voice ignored me … “Press 2 to change your address,” the computer said. So I pressed 1 again. Nothing. “How annoying,” I thought, “that I have to wait for the whole message to complete before it will accept my selection.” But strangely the last part of the recording told me that I could press a button at any time to skip the rest of the instructions. (Why this was said at the end of the instructions is a mystery for you to ponder.) This was clearly not true because I had been pressing 1 repeatedly. <sigh>

The voice prompt indicated that since I hadn’t pressed anything, I must be using a rotary telephone (?!) so I would have to wait to be connected to the next available customer service representative. I only had to wait a minute or two before someone in India answered the phone. She had no problem changing my subscription rate and billing me for my renewal; she even asked me if I had seen any advertisements for an even lower rate, because they’d honor that, too. I hadn’t heard of any other lower rate, and I am an honest fool, and I kind of just wanted to be done with the whole thing, so I didn’t say anything like, “Well I saw an ad on the Internet for a $3.00 subscription.”

“For $34.97 you can get a two-year renewal,” she told me. Even without using a calculator I could tell this was a good deal, so I agreed and gave her my new credit card number and now have a subscription that won’t expire until September of 2011. As my friend Kelly likes to say, “I don’t even know if I’ll still be eating food in solid form instead of just having a nutrient pill by then,” but at least Men’s Health should arrive in the mail …

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