Open, but not open

Dateline: Mon 31 Aug 2009

From a blog reader Aug. 20, detailing how there are more things wrong with Gannett's operation than its vision of its news staff and other employees:

"I had a delivery problem with the Star this morning (my new carrier doesn’t realize that there are two parts to the paper on Thursdays, so he randomly delivers either the front sections or the Extra/North Indy/ads.) When I went to the Star’s website to find out what telephone number to call, I found the following information (I added the bold):

"The Circulation Customer Sales and Service Department is open 365 days per year. Our hours are:
Monday through Friday – 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays – Closed
Sundays – 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Holidays – 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon (any changes will be posted in the paper)

"I had to re-read it several times and still check with my wife to confirm that you couldn’t be open 365 days per year and be closed on Saturdays.

"It reminded me of one of my all-time favorite jokes: A guy walks up to a restaurant just as the owner is leaving and locking the front door. The guy says, 'I don’t understand, your sign says you’re open 24 hours.' The restaurant owner replies, 'Well, not in a row!'"


Comments

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

For some time the Star and Pal-Item have had a casual attitude toward rural home delivery. For awhile they even suspended same. We had a pretty good route man for over a year; he delivered around 3-4 AM, explaining that he had three routes, drove many miles and wore out his car. He quit because he could not keep a helper, someone to ride in the car with him and stuff the papers in the rural boxes.

Some months ago we went through several carriers, arriving at our current one, who, one supposes, considers newspaper delivery as a day job. The papers come between 8 and 9:30 during the week, usually around 10:30 on Sunday.

My approach has been to call customer services for both papers, tell the computer I have not received a paper on time (6 AM weekdays, 8 AM Sunday) and request respective credit. The newspapers eventually show up, far later than promised but still welcome, and I have received a credit for them.

I get some enjoyment out of this: when I call customer service about a delivery issue, the same automated voice for PalItem or Star walks me through some prompts; when they bring up my account, there's a wonderfully phony sound of computer keys entering data. When the credit is requested and given- more computer key sounds, and the chipper voice says "done!"

Today both papers were delivered at 5:30 AM. Giving them to me free might have spurred someone to awaken earlier.

I don't have any long term expectations of continuing to receive either paper in the morning. Any more than I believe that rural home mail delivery will continue for many years to come.

2009-08-31 15:28:33

think again [unverified] said:

If you call in a complaint that you don't have a paper - the carrier gets charged $$

If you steal a paper from a rack - the contractor gets charged $$

The company does not lose $$

You can feel all good about how you stuck it to the Man - but the man you stuck it to paid for his gas, tires (they hit every nail that gets blown to the side of the road - ever think if that??), spent time putting papers together that used to be done by employees (when speed mattered!). Maybe they could be on time and not hire help to put it in the tube on the right side of the car - maybe that is if they could bag and throw it. HA! It must be in the tube or you will throw a fit - so up and down every single street they must go.

You are correct though - you will soon have no delivery of any kind. And it will be the carrier's fault you think.

It's always the worker's fault...

2009-08-31 17:43:22

OMG [unverified] said:

Ruth, did you check out the LIO section today? There's a comment about eliminating senseless shootings by disarming Americans. The writer proposed we start witht eh Secret Service. Do you think the Star staffer charged with editing these posts realized the meaning?

2009-08-31 18:00:11

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Think Again, the newspapers promised me that they would arrive by 6 am weekdays, 8 am Sunday. When a lazy or incompetent carrier consistently misses those deadlines by hours, they are rightly penalized. I got nowhere complaining to the carrier or the route manager that deliveries were unacceptably late. My only recourse was an economic one: either get the paper here early enough for me to read it, or suffer the economic consequences.

I've seen my new carrier, she even called me from the driveway one morning, to explain that she had too much work to handle and couldn't be expected to get the paper here on time.

Not my problem: I want my paper here in time to read it, as promised by the newspaper. And it appears that having to pay for late deliveries has motivated someone to get up earlier.

In this case, failure to deliver IS the worker's fault.

2009-08-31 21:26:17

think again [unverified] said:

No problem with expecting what is promised from a company - I still think you are most likely very misguided on where the problem lies.

2009-09-01 07:34:21

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"I still think you are most likely very misguided on where the problem lies"

Yes and no.
I now have a new carrier. Papers are now arriving on time. The problem definitely was the carrier. (Old carrier had attitude, was grossly overweight, clearly didn't want to exert herself, and the car was on its last legs. Her situation reeked of poverty, with which I could otherwise empathize, but her FU attitude killed that notion.)

The larger problem is that there isn't enough money in home delivery to make it worthwhile for competent people to take on, and stay with, this demanding job.

Newspapers do not pay for value. ("Talent manager" indeed: "gig manager" is more like it!)That philosophy trickles down to constant changeover in underpaid, desperate carriers who get into a proposition that requires more effort if not cost than they expected.

2009-09-01 08:56:29

think again [unverified] said:

Fair enough - your last 2 paragraphs are spot on

However, you assume the "fat lazy" carrier was fired or prodded out of bed because she was getting dinged by your complaint charges.

More likely, if the district manager or agent is worth anything, they convinced the carrier to change their route to silence you and make them drive 20+ miles more than usual to get you early - or found someone else that would. Again, not your problem...but everyone wises up soon - you are indeed lucky to still get delivery for now.

I could be very wrong but it's common - and there's no thanks and no money. Again, just another perspective. And fyi - I have nothing to do with the Star - just have insight on this for what it is worth

2009-09-01 15:59:10

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"However, you assume the 'fat lazy' carrier was fired or prodded out of bed because she was getting dinged by your complaint charges."

Since I am hardly the only customer on the former carrier's route, it is safe to assume that I was not the only customer dissatisfied with the newspapers' delivery time.

I also frequently received newspapers with missing sections, particularly on Sundays. I have always had a good relationship with our carriers. They got to know our dogs, and I tipped at Christmas. This last lazy carrier was symptomatic of the talent that's recruited on the cheap.

I realize I may eventually lose home delivery. But it won't be because of my complaints about newspapers delivered hours late.

And I am puzzled, Think Again, why you express no problem with newspaper deliveries coming, on average, 3 to 4 hours late.

A dependably delivered morning newspaper, coming on schedule as the coffee perks, is supposed to be one of life's pleasurable certainties.

2009-09-01 16:49:14

indykjsharp [Member] said:

"There isn't enough money in home delivery for worthwhile people to take it on."

I'm on the short chute to 50 and my first job was delivering The Washington Post -- a far weightier tome in size and content than The Star ever was, and sadly, ever will be. I walked my route, delivering papers before 6 a.m. on weekdays and before 9 a.m. on Sundays. Because the Sunday paper was so heavy I pulled them in a wagon. One Sunday I overslept and my two younger sisters and brother went along with me to help so the papers wouldn't be too late. I had special instructions for some houses, like where elderly people lived, to leave the paper in the screen door, or knock when I left the paper. Back in those days the carriers were also responsible for collections.

Why was this job taken away from kids? It seems as though it's been made way more complicated than it needs to be.

I delivered the paper in my neighborhood and I knew my neighbors. If I had been lazy, they would have known where to find me.

2009-09-01 20:35:01

Brian [unverified] said:

Hmmm...some of us just don't seem to get it. The newspaper is toast.

Ad revenues are down, they can't find decent carriers for the pittance they pay, and Al Gore's internet has eaten their collective lunches.

2009-09-03 10:53:50

indykjsharp [Member] said:

Maybe The newspaper is toast, but newspapers are not toast. Witness the Broad Ripple Gazette, Urban Times and every other little neighborhood paper. NUVO and the IBJ. There will always be advertisers looking for ways to reach readers, and these will survive and probably grow.

2009-09-03 13:20:16

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