Seattle Times Develops Script to Respond to Angry Readers

By Erica C. Barnett October 24, 2012

Several readers have confirmed that when they've called to cancel their subscriptions to the Seattle Times over the paper's decision to fund an independent expenditure ad for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and to make an in-kind contribution ad to R-74, the gay-marriage referendum, the Times' customer-service employees have responded by reading (or emailing) a scripted response suggesting that they "suspend" their subscriptions until after the election.

They've even given it a name: "The protest stop."

Here's the script:

Your email was forwarded to me, Joe a Customer Service Specialist for The Seattle Times Company for further follow up. I apologize that this has created an issue. It's important to note that the decision to print these ads did not come from, nor is it part of our newsroom or editorial departments. We value our subscribers and I'm hoping that you will allow me to enter a protest stop on your account in order to send a message to our corporate staff regarding this matter. The protest stop is where a subscriber stops for two weeks and your comments are forwarded to the appropriate department explaining why you want to stop.

We track these and it aids us in making future decisions based on your feedback. If you would like me to take this action, please respond accordingly. Again, I apologize for this issue and thank you for bringing it to our attention.

The former Times reader's response: "You may forward our comments to the "appropriate department" if you wish, but we suggest a more appropriate action might be a physical protest by Times employees with pitchforks and torches in hand in the streets outside of the homes of the irresponsible Blethen family members."

We have asked the Seattle Times to comment on how many cancellations they've gotten because of the their decision to cross-over from editorials into making contributions—$75,500 and $80,000 respectively to McKenna and R-74.

Yesterday, we reported that former Times political editor Mark Matassa canceled his subscrition.

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