Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's A Dying Business.....

This might not be a true example of "losing our America" but it sure does show how greedy an American business can get.

On August 1st of this year my mother passed away at 84 years of age. She lived a long, good life and the years took a toll on her body and it was time for her pain to finally be over. Naturally, my family had many things to take care of and plans to make and like most families, we thought an obituary should be ran in our local newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times.

So I personally wrote the obituary, summarizing her life and how we would miss her. in this modern day and age you simply send in your written words and any photo and the paper would get back with you telling you the price to run the article.

I want to show you the actual article so you can see the length. Well, I must admit, it also let's me publish it for free! I was told the price was based on the number of lines required to run it. ( Not sure that is the fairest way since I've seen some obituaries that are only a couple inches wide and other that are six inches or more in width, meaning less lines.) Anyway, below is what I wrote:

STEPHENS, Wanda L. "Nanny"
84, of St Petersburg, passed away August 1, 2013. She was born in Florence, Ky on June 28, 1929. She was preceded in death by her parents Bonnie and Russell Luck, her brother Russell Irvin Luck and infant son Gayle Stephens. She spent most of her working career as a registered nurse. She moved to Florida in 1970. She is survived by her loving family: sons, Glenn and Ken Stephens (Kim); daughter Mary "Cindy" Watson (Bob); grandchildren, Kelly Watson Stack, Heather Watson Simmons, James Watson, Bonnie Watson Lloyd, all from St Petersburg, Fl and William Stephens and Melissa Stephens from northern Kentucky; twelve great-grandchildren. Wanda spent the past five years residing at Bons Secours Maria Manor in St Petersburg, Fl where she often said she loved living. She was a friend to many there and she was loved by many of the staff and residents. She left many good impressions on those lucky enough to know her and she will be truly missed by them all. She loved old black & white movies and those ridiculous reality shows on TV. She loved having people bring her an occasional "samrich" and her buttermilk as well as having an ice cold beer every so often. She will be forever missed by her family. A memorial service will be held at a later date at Bons Secour Maria Manor, 10300 4th St N., St Petersburg. Donations can be made to Suncoast Hospice.

The next day I get a call from a man at the 'Obituary Desk'. He told be they calculated the cost and it would be $575. Yes. Five-Hundred-Seventy-Five dollars! Needless to say, I never thought it would be anywhere near that amount. Be honest, would you have guessed that amount?

So I decided to delete about 3-5 sentences to lower the cost and I got a response back that the revised article was now lowered to only $487. Much better, huh?

I didn't respond and the next day the man at the desk called me on the phone and wanted to know if I wanted to run the obituary. I told him I thought it was too high and we decided to go a different route. Do you think they get people to go ahead and buy their ads if they speak to you on the phone? Probably. Do you think a lot of people are so sad and in shock with the passing of their loved one that they don't care what it costs? Probably. You want to honor your loved one and you know that publishing an obituary is the right way because you've seen them all your life in the newspapers. Right?

We decided to have the article I wrote printed up and laminated with a poem on the reverse side which would be a memorial bookmark/keepsake for family members. The cost for 54 of of those? $40. Yep, Forty-Dollars. At Office Depot. Do you think 54 people would have cut out the obituary from the Times and saved it? I doubt it.

So to me, I see it as local newspapers preying on the sadness and shock of people losing loved ones. They couldn't make money on running an ad the size of what I wrote and even charging $50 or even $100? I think they would have a lot more lengthy obituaries in their papers. I would have paid that with no problem.

And the papers wonder why they are losing subscribers and they know it's only a matter of time before there aren't any printed newspapers left. Everything will be online. Maybe an obituary the size of what I wrote would be $10. But I doubt it. Greedy people love looking for grieving families.

I can't wait to read an obituary about the Tampa Bay Times....

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