Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Junk Mail: "Your Subscription is Expired Letter"

I know this is a strange thing to review, but as you'll soon see, this letter seriously irked me.

By way of background, for several years I was a gamer. Never hardcore, but certainly more than "casual." I owned a PS2, a DS and a PSP. When I decided to pick up a PlayStation magazine, I got the two year subscription because it was the better deal. My subscription recently came to an end as when the consoles moved to the next generation, I did not: too few games caught my eye, let alone at the price tags being charged for them. I've kept my DS for longer trips, but even then I admit that for casual gaming, I use my iPhone instead.

So today, I got the following letter in the mail - highlights are those found in the letter. My comments are in red. All formatting is exactly as seen in the letter.

from the desk of Gary Steinman [editor-in-chief]

Dear [Random Girl Geek],

Hey -- what happened? We mailed you a bunch of renewal reminders but you never replied.
Yes. Yes, you did. Like five of them. Given that you sent that many to an address that the magazines successfully delivered to, the obvious answer to your question is that I decided to let my subscription go.

So now your subscription to PlayStation: The Official Magazine has expired. Finito. History.
Indeed. One would expect that to happen when one doesn't renew a magazine.

What's up with that? I mean, your renewal deal is fantastic: Just $1.50 an issue (vs. the $5.99 cover price other guys pay).
This is where I start taking umbridge with this letter - the tone of the "What's up with that?"""""" comes across as just plain rude. Yes, the price was good, but that wasn't the reason I let the subscription lapse. Plus, I find highlighting in letters like this annoying. It doesn't make it look like this came from the EIC himself anymroe than the not-so-fancy header on this.

Just $1.50 for each issue of the #1 PlayStation magazine in the world, loaded with everything you need to get the most out of Playstation gaming, from in-depth Strategy Guides to dynamite game previews, reviews and ratings. Just $1.50 an issue!
More standard frothing at the mouth kind of ranting. Not that I'm quite sure how this is to convince a person to come back to your magazine. Perhaps if price was the issue it'd hammer how cheap it was home, but if you didn't find the [infrequent] Strategy Guides helpful, or care about the game previews, or found the reviews/ratings lacking, praising them won't change a person's mind.

Wait -- you didn't quit PlayStation gaming cold turkey, did you? Sold your machine and all your games to somebody else? Decided to take up flower arranging or bought an ant farm instead?
And here is the reason this letter pissed me off. What I'm getting a read of is, "You didn't give up your totally badass hobby for something wussy did you?

Nah...that can't be you. So take this final opportunity to get back on board at the same great low price. Mail your Reinstatement Voucher now. 
And now it's basically saying that nah, you aren't a wuss, you just forgot to mail in your money! The command, in highlighter and different font is an obnoxious touch.

P.S. If you recently sent us renewal and it crossed this letter in the mail, thanks.

Oh look who found their manners again!! Ugh.

Look, I get that "serious" gaming is still male-dominated even though the number of female gamers (and older games for that matter) has gone way up. One of my gripes with this magazine has always been the way it feels like it tokenly acknowledges female gamers (a rant for another day) and this here is a perfect example of that: this letter is dripping in testosterone and machismo. I frankly find it disgusting.

Maybe my feminist-colored glasses have become overly cloudy, but this letter hits all the wrong nerves. It's the kind of letter that had my order crossed it in the mail, I might consider cancelling it. Whether or not I'm overreacting,  the only thing I'm sure of is that this letter hasn't made me sad that I let my subscription go nor has it made me go rush out to renew. It's obnoxious, offensive and didn't set out what it was trying to do.

My grade: F

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