Globe aims to fix delivery problems
Boston Globe executives said Wednesday that they are working to resolve the delivery problems that have resulted in frustrated readers receiving late papers — or none at all — for three days this week.
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.
The missing papers prompted an outcry from readers, who vented on social media and overwhelmed the Globe's phone system with complaints.
"We apologize for the disruption,'' Sheehan said in an interview. "We know that people depend on us every day."
By Wednesday, 95 percent of home-delivery subscribers received their papers, Sheehan said, but the Globe failed to reach the other 5 percent on a timely basis. Sheehan said the new company hired by the paper is endeavoring to have all papers delivered Thursday, although he acknowledged some might arrive late.
The new delivery vendor, ACI Media Group, is based in Long Beach, Calif., and has been in the business for 50 years. It delivers such newspapers as the Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Sheehan said the Globe regrets the frustration suffered by loyal readers who encountered busy signals or long waits when they called to report delivery problems. The paper has added staff to handle the phone calls from customers and pledged to increase phone-line capacity over the next two days.
In a note to readers posted on BostonGlobe.com Wednesday, the newspaper said it would offer full refunds to customers for papers that went undelivered. It also was updating links on the web site to assist with customer service, executives said.
The Globe's online news site has not been affected by the delivery lapse this week. But that was little solace to many readers who prefer the newsprint version of the paper.
Ken Spritz, a Globe subscriber for more than 20 years, said the Globe's communication about the delivery problems should have been better.
"People are just frustrated not knowing what the status is, and when it's going to be resolved,'' he said.
The delivery problems came on a holiday week, and were a stark reminder of readers' expectation of reliable delivery, whatever the season or delivery method. The process has evolved over the years from one that relied on bicycle-riding paper boys to outside vendors that hire hundreds of part-time, independent drivers.
ACI Media has been building a network of 600 contractors in Massachusetts and verifying routes to bring the Globe to the doorsteps of 115,000 customers on weekdays, and more than 205,000 on Sundays. Some drivers are joining from the prior vendor.
The Globe also sells tens of thousands of additional papers at newsstands every day, and recently invested in a new printing plant in Taunton.
Sheehan said the Globe anticipated some disruption with the switch, and is seeking to minimize the pain of the change.
"It's a change we had to make,'' he said. But, "in the days ahead, we'll be getting it to the premium level of service that our subscribers expect."