Saying that Cher World rocks is a good segue into something that does not rock. The Cher Fan Club.
Some history as I know it: this club has been controversial from time to time. I was a member the first year it existed, back when I lived in Yonkers, New York and we were snail-mailed black-and-white newsletters. I got the requisite autographed picture but didn’t love the newsletters; so I dropped out. Years later I heard stories of fans paying but getting locked out of the online version of the club. There were some bad-blood posts on the Cher lists.
Honestly, all official things get punched about by fans. So I decided to see for myself what being a member of an online fan club was all about, especially as an experience for this blog. But as it happened, the club was offline when I started the blog. So I waited for over a year for the re-launch. I was prepared to do a decent review of my year’s experiences. It wasn’t the greatest thing ever but it was fine. I received mostly friendly emails and they had some fun, Cher-related contests and giveaways...none of which I ever won but I was looking forward to a new year of trying.
But then...I tried to renew.
You can renew by attempting to log in. For the inconvenience, use offer code SEPT09C to save $2 per year.
If you have any other comments, questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact us. You are a valued member and we want you to know that we appreciate your support. Our goal is to provide World Class service and we hope that we have provided you with that today.
CherFanClub.com Support Team
Me again: Mon, September 21, 2009 5:44:54 PM
Is your paypal feature working? I can log in fine by going to paypal directly but am unable to loggin through http://www.officialcherfanclub.com/.
Official Cher Fan Club (Members Services), Sent: Thursday, 24, 2009
Hi, I renewed you a few days so you can renew, there seems to be a problem with self-renewals of expired accounts. If you have any other comments, questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact us. You are a valued member and we want you to know that we appreciate your support. Our goal is to provide World Class service and we hope that we have provided you with that today.
CherFanClub.com Support Team
I was not sure what that meant but I finally paid via paypal: Sep. 24, 2009 17:50:28 PDT
You sent a payment of $25.00 USD to Official Cher Fan Club
Then I got preoccupied with my wedding in early November, then my Honeymoon, then Thanksgiving. Checking before Christmas, I still did not have membership access to the site! What? The online message said I was still an expired account! After Jonathan gave me his word and all!!
On 12/24 I sent an email asking whussup and I went away to Xmas break. I got the usual email confirm but no human response. I got another automatic membership-has-expired email in early January when I returned. So on 1/10 I sent another email asking for help or some kind of update. I got the email confirmation again promising someone would respond but again no response.
So, three months of paid membership later...no actual usable membership.
And frankly, is the membership worthy of all this bureaucracy?
It’s lacking in any sort of insider scoops. There’s no club membership kit as promised before the site re-launched in 2008. No downloadable videos or club newsletter archives as the Join Uspage once anticipated. No good concert-ticket-purchase opportunities either. But then fan clubs have always promised this and have rarely been able to deliver (Barry Manilow’s special certificate anyone?).
But all that was okay. I was willing to re-subscribe anyway. You could send Cher fan mail, I guess, if you so needed. And the site had made improvements on itself. Pus it’s always fun to be in a club. Right?
I mean all good things come to Cher fans who wait, right? Right? Musicals, dance albums...?
This is exactly the sweet spot where being a fandom jams into my self-hood. Is the fan club really worth waiting for? Is it adding to my Cher fan life?
For $5 a year (the cost of postage and my ink) I could start my own unauthorized, underground, renegade club, The Cher Zombies, and provide two snarky newsletters a year, a membership card and the chance to buy a t-shirt someday if I get around to designing one. But it wouldn’t be official.
Last week, I kvetched about my club woes on the Cher list. One fan wrote back and called the club “a scam.” Another said “that is why I gave up the fan club thing a long time ago - it was not worth the trouble.” Still another said, “I had problems when they were changing the site & for a little while after, but finally did get replies & able to log in & even got my original membership date back instead of being considered a "new" member. Don't give up, keep trying!”
For a fan club with a biography page that is updated more than once every decade, I’d consider it. As it is (or in our case as it isn’t) for this Cher Scholar, I can’t honestly recommend it.