When is a month less than a month?

This is the logo of the Billings Gazette, which has not endorsed the contents of this post.

This is the logo of the Billings Gazette, which has not endorsed the contents of this post.

Got a notice last month saying that the cost of my Billings Gazette subscription was rising to $33.60 a month. No surprise there. Rates go up.

But I was confused, because I had been reading in the masthead this sentence: “Home delivery subscribers of Premium Day papers will see a slight reduction in their subscription length to offset all premium day charges.”

Question 1: Why do I read the masthead? It started long ago when I became the editor of a central Texas daily. Not long after I started, somebody in the composing room inadvertently inserted into the paper an old masthead that omitted my name.

Minutes after I got to the office, one of my old bosses called, wondering if I had been fired or quit. I’m assured him that I had not (that would come later) and wondered how he had happened to read the masthead.

“It’s the first thing I read every morning,” he said. Sound advice from a sage mentor.

Question 2: What is a Premium Day paper? Good question. For one, the Thanksgiving Day paper, which sells for $4. Fine. The celebrated biggest paper of the year is the most overrated edition ever—short on news but chock full of ads that I never look at because I refuse to shop anytime near Black Friday.

“Additional premium day editions which include our ‘Better’ section will be delivered on July 13 and in August.” I don’t know what the Better section is, and I have no idea why it costs $4, but I guess I will find out today.

All of this brought to mind another question: If I pay by the month, how does the Gazette plan to reduce my subscription length? Turn every month into February? Create an 11-month year?

So I called the number in the paper and was turned over to a pleasant and thoughtful woman who assured me that I could ignore what the masthead said. Monthly charges are assessed only once a month, she told me.

She also signed me up for the free online access that is supposed to come with every subscription. I had been unable to sign up myself because the computer I discussed this with was unable, despite considerable swearing, to locate the account I have had for 24 years.

So everything’s cool, I guess, except now my email is overflowing every day with messages from the Gazette: breaking stories, daily obituaries, top headlines, local weather. If I wanted to read the Gazette by email, I wouldn’t be paying $33.60 every month, or some portion thereof, to have it delivered to my front porch.

Guess I will have to call them back, some Feb. 30.

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