By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

It may be 4-6 months before Globe delivery is back to normal

The Boston Globe weighs in with its first in-depth story on the home-delivery mess. Unfortunately, the news is not good. Executives for the Globe and the new distributor, ACI Media Group, are pointing fingers at each other, and ACI says service won’t be back to what it was previously for (are you ready?) four to six months. (For what it’s worth, I’m quoted.)

Here’s a paragraph to chew over:

“I said ‘I cannot describe to you how painful it is,’ ” [ACI chief executive Jack] Klunder said, recounting his warning to Globe officials. “I used the expression ‘massive disruption.’ … You’re going to get thousands of calls, e-mails—social media is going to be blistering you. The news media is going to be blistering you. You’re going to like where you are at the end of this cycle but you’re going to go through this.”

To which I and all other Globe subscribers (and managers and employees) can only say: You’ve got to be kidding.

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  1. “You’ve got to be kidding,” doesn’t quite dig deep enough. Begin the inquiry with the change in distribution vendors, then ask why? And of course, who, what, when, where, AND how; as in: How could the Globe create such a mess? Actually, it’s done! So be it. Now it’s best the Globe evaluate and embrace the upside… it is there as a silver lining; to be determined. Maybe it will save the Globe as a viable media product for the future…

  2. Steve Ross

    1. Globe management was forewarned, both by one of its managers and by the history of other changeovers.
    2. Management seemed ignorant of how the paper — any paper — is distributed.
    3. The existing contractor was paying what amounts to less than $15 an hour in a competitive labor market. One would assume that the incumbent had evolved as much efficiency into the system as possible, with long-established (and proprietary, I suspect) route system. Turnover would be high, but there would almost always be enough route veterans around to teach the newbies. When there wasn’t, customers would complain.
    4. There is one quote (did it represent the norm?) from a veteran worker who was NOT hired by the new distributor.

    Thus, one assumes the Globe and its new vendor expected to save money by paying workers even less, and by hiring fewer workers. A fool’s errand. I also suspect that the new distributor promised all kinds of new reports to help the Globe eek out circulation opportunities hiding in the pile of delivery data the system has to generate every day. In my own consulting (which includes, may the journalism gods strike me dead, the newsstand distribution algorithm for People Magazine) I’ve met few brilliant newspaper circ people. The best are awesome. The norm, not so much.

    I’m one of those customers not heavily affected by the change, although papers have been late arriving. But we also travel a lot on business and put delivery on hold 200 days a year. If we were badly affected, we’d simply go all digital.

  3. Unless I read it wrong, I note in the Globe article that there are NO penalties to the new distributor in the first few months, whether they get the job done or not. And I still am puzzled by who made the decision to roll out the new system long before it had been tested, or long before new delivery folks had even been hired. Someone should be fired– unless the decision was made by John Henry, in which case, I guess we are all stuck with it.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Donna, it is incredible. The whole thing is mind-boggling. And yes, you read it right: a three-month free ride for ACI.

  4. Therein, is the UPSIDE… “circulation opportunities hiding in the pile of delivery data”. What are they? It’s inside the zip code?

  5. The outrage is compounded because our NY Times and Wall St. Journal, which had been successfully delivered along with the Globe for 20 years, are also being assigned to a new vendor (possibly the same one, they won’t say). No sign of those papers for days. Maybe this is a giant conspiracy to get everyone to go digital. Three to six months is intolerable.

  6. Lois Ambash

    Maybe it’s because I’ve only lived in the Boston area for ten years. Or maybe it’s because I’m a city girl stuck in the suburbs and unwilling to fetch the paper from wherever it happens to be thrown — if it gets delivered at all. But at $50 a month, I’m not willing to cut the Globe any more slack.

    They’ve even made it impossible to switch to digital online (as I was instructed when I finally got through to cancel home delivery and make the switch). As of now, I have neither.

    I guess I’ll just have to make do with the NYTimes.

  7. Fred Weissman

    Let the record show that yesterday and today my Globe was just outside my front door by eight o’clock (perhaps earlier) while the NY Times was nowhere to be found. Sunday’s re-delivery of the Times didn’t arrive until after noon, while I’m still waiting for today’s. And of the past eight days, I only had to contact the Globe three times for a re-delivery. Note that using the smartphone app is much more efficient than waiting on hold. I wonder if the courier who used to deliver both papers went over to the Globe and now the Times route is uncovered.

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