Boston Globe delivery

The Boston Globe seems to be having trouble delivering its paper:

Scores of Boston Globe editors, reporters, photographers, and other employees worked late Saturday and early Sunday across eastern Massachusetts to assist delivery crews in making sure subscribers received their Sunday newspapers.
The Globe switched to a new delivery company, ACI Media Group, on Dec. 28, and customers have since reported issues receiving newspapers.
Missing papers prompted an outcry from readers, who vented on social media and overwhelmed the Globe’s phone system with complaints.
You would think that a story about a newspaper would actually answer the main questions about the story, but:
The problems stem from switching Monday to a new delivery company. Globe chief executive Mike Sheehan said the change was made to improve deliveries for all customers, but acknowledged the new service got off to a rocky start.
That’s a partial answer to two main questions:
Why did the Boston Globe switch delivery companies?
  • Had there been big problems before?
  • Was it to cut costs?

These questions aren’t answered.  The closest I’ve seen is here:

The company did not say why it switched vendors, only that it was a “complex and major undertaking,” according to a statement from Peter Doucette, the Globe’s vice president.

But people familiar with the Globe’s strategy said that the company was looking for a delivery service that could help improve circulation, and that there were problems with the previous vendor, Publishers Circulation Fulfillment, which also delivers The New York Times.

I love this bit:

A plea for volunteers was made after the company switched to a new delivery service, ACI Media Group, on Dec. 28. ACI Media Group, based in Long Beach, Calif., works for The Miami Herald, The Los Angeles Times and several other newspapers. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Boston Globe has no comment from the company, ACI. I wonder if they also couldn’t reach them?

What caused the delivery problems?
  • That is partially answered here. It’s not in the print story but the reporter in the video notes that the new company did not hire enough workers (why?) and they did not know the routes yet (again, why?).

Given that these problems were anticipated and the outcry started last Monday, it’s amazing to me that there are no answers to basic questions such as these and it’s amazing that the Boston Globe has done such a terrible job communicating.

Update: There seems to be actual reporting in today’s paper:

Behind disruptions affecting up to 10 percent of daily subscribers are two basic problems, both sides said. ACI Media Group, which took over home delivery in Greater Boston last Monday, has yet to hire enough drivers to cover every route. And many of ACI’s new delivery routes lack any logical sequence, leaving drivers criss-crossing communities and making repeated trips to the same neighborhoods.

ACI officials say they are aggressively recruiting new drivers with incentive programs, but could not say when they will have enough to ensure every paper is delivered.

“I wish I could answer that question,” ACI’s president and chief operating officer, Jack Klunder, a former circulation executive at the Los Angeles Times, said in an interview. “I just can’t say. I think it’s going to improve each week.” He said in four to six months service will be as good as before the change, and then will continue to improve.

Globe chief executive Mike Sheehan said the newspaper undertook the switch from Publishers Circulation Fulfillment to ACI primarily in an effort to improve service and reduce the number of delivery cancellations due to service complaints. ACI also brings a “material” cost savings, he said, which Globe owner John Henry had intended to put back into the operation.

Wow, in 4-6 months service will be as good as before the change? That’s pretty pathetic. Also, it’s pretty clear that at least one of the two parties (the Globe and ACI) knew there was going to be major problems and yet it’s obvious they didn’t do enough in either communicating this or trying to mitigate it. Both sides have strong reasons to lie so it’s hard to know which side is telling the truth. Of course we can blame them all (except of course the people who actually deliver the papers–they’re probably getting screwed too).

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