No delivery

February 20, 2016

We are back to no delivery of either print newspaper, The Boston Globe or The New York Times.

Requests for “redelivery” of the papers are sometimes filled, sometimes not.

Central customer service seems to concede that they still have a problem that is not going to get fixed anytime soon, as yesterday both offered me a week’s worth of credit going forward.

What they may not realize is that they are undermining their credibility about doing what they can to fix the problem.

What seems to be the problem is that their model for hiring drivers no longer makes economic sense for potential recruits.  Splitting off delivery of the Globe from delivery of other papers apparently broke the structure that allowed the regional delivery system to work.  Apparently the new routes are too long and inefficient for drivers to get finished in time to meet delivery deadlines or get to their other employment.  Delivering only one paper per house is also less lucrative for the driver.  One driver indicated that the pool of drivers is largely immigrant and vulnerable to exploitation, so I am wondering whether part of the reason that the feedback that the split needs to be undone is not being accepted is that the companies have assumed that they have enough leverage to make the new model work.

Since the driver I had in 2015 for the Times quit after losing the Globe part of his delivery work, no permanent replacement has been found by the service managing delivery of the Times.  I learn from central customer service for subscriptions for the Times when I call to report yet another missed delivery that my account is not assigned to a permanent driver.  A new Globe driver who came on board after a lengthy period of no delivery after the December 28th implementation of new system lasted only a few weeks.  Apparently there are not enough drivers to deliver the “redelivery” papers (those requested when the original copy was not delivered) reliably either.

So what are the delivery companies and the newspaper companies that hire them going to do?  Will they reunite the delivery systems for the different papers and go back to the status quo ante?  A redelivery driver for the Times some weeks ago told me that that he thought they would eventually do that but that it would take time.  He also claimed the problem was the result of a personal feud.  He said this accounted for the split itself and the abruptness of how the change was implemented.

Consumers seem to be the tail on the dog in all this.

On the one hand, I often read or hear that advertising in the print edition of a newspaper is an important source of revenue for journalism.  On the other hand, I would not be surprised to be informed at some point that subscriptions for home delivery of print papers will no longer be available in my area, if these companies cannot see their way to rebuilding a system that works, including cooperating with one another and being more realistic about driver needs.  I mean, how long can they go on saying they offer print subscriptions but not fulfill them?

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