Red Plum/Local Values, the ad rag that keeps coming | Bleader

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Red Plum/Local Values, the ad rag that keeps coming

Posted By on 05.14.13 at 10:23 AM

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Grit. Tenacity. Sticktoitiveness. By any name, it's a dandy virtue, the one that explains why a handful of great men and women wind up in history books while so many others equally strong and wise vanish unnoticed. Tears come to my eyes whenever I think back on the Immortal Game, game six of the 2011 World Series. My gritty Cardinals twice fought back from the brink of defeat, and when Lance Berkman lashed a two-out, two-strike single in the bottom of the tenth inning to tie a game the Cardinals would win in the 11th inning, to tie a series they would win 24 hours later, announcer Joe Buck delivered what is to my mind the ultimate tribute:

They. Just. Won't. Go. Away.

The Chicago Tribune shares in this fine quality. For instance, when I go on vacation and suspend delivery of the newspapers I subscribe to, the irrepressible Tribune will usually come regardless. It. Just. Won't. Go. Away. Not even for a week. I can't help but almost admire it. Possibly my feelings will change when I return from vacation and discover a pile of Tribunes outside the door and a ransacked house within. But for now . . .

Earlier in the year I commented here on this phenomenon. After returning from Christmas in London to find a week's worth of Tribunes waiting for me, I told readers that when I called the Tribune to learn the reason, "the circulation department laid the blame on my delivery man—the same fellow competent enough to stop dropping off the Sun-Times and Times." I went on to pay the Tribune a sort of tribute:

"Did you ever wonder if there's any way to rid your front lawn of Red Plum or Local Values—whatever it is the Trib calls that ad throwaway in the pink wrap that always seems to wind up a soggy mess in your tulip bed? The flagship paper's just as relentless."

My strong impression at the time was that, no, there is no way to stop Red Plum/Local Values from showing up on our lawns one day each week. It's the advertising rag that Just. Won't. Go. Away.

But my evidence was impressionistic and anecdotal. Recently I noticed that the pink wrapper says this: "For service or delivery inquiries for this product please call 1-800-874-2863." On Wednesday, April 17, Red Plum arrived as usual, and I called the number.

The young woman with an intriguing accent who answered the phone asked if my Red Plum was delivered separately. (It's also delivered once a week inside the Tribune, and although I never look at it, I'm sure ending that is too high a mountain to climb.)

The young woman told me she'd forward my name to the Tribune to be removed from the Red Plum delivery rolls.

The following Wednesday, April 24, Red Plum arrived again. I placed another call, and this time asked the name of the person handling my situation. "Edward" made me verify my name and address and then announced, "I will now request that starting next week you will no longer receive the Local Values/Red Plum.

The following Wednesday afternoon—that would have been May 1—I called the usual number, followed the usual prompts, and found myself speaking to "Della." "May I please have the address on the account?" said Della. After telling her, I asked what part of the world I was speaking with. "We are outsourced in the Philippines, sir," said Della. "I notice you called on April 17. Has there been any improvement? Have they stopped delivering?" I regret to say I replied with minimal grace that I would not be speaking to her if they had. "I will contact the delivery agent and they will stop delivering it to you," Della promised.

Last Wednesday I made my weekly call to the Philippines. "Is the account under Mr. Michael Miner?" asked "Alexis." It is, I said. "How can I help you today?" asked Alexis. By discontinuing Red Plum, I said. "Sure, sir," she replied. "I will be providing your address to our circulation department and we still stop sending you the Red Plum by next week. And what days are you usually getting the Red Plum delivery?"

On Wednesday, I said.

"All right, sir, I have now processed your request. Is there anything else?"

Thank you very much, said I, who never fails to marvel at the unflappable pleasantness of the Tribune's minions in the Philippines.

"Have a great day," said Alexis.

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