On the one hand, it’s a victory for print journalism. Dozens of Saturday and Sunday newspaper subscribers outraged that their papers were not delivered. On the other hand, the Orange County Register’s solution only added fuel to the ire.
“Free copies of the Sunday and Saturday papers are available in the OC Register lobby at 625 N. Grand Avenue, Santa Ana until 5 p.m. today,” the paper posted Sunday on Facebook, prompting a string of angry reader comments and a different tack from the paper. One that sounded a lot like the remarks being made by members of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after being swept out of the MLB playoffs Sunday by the Kansas City Royals:
No excuses. We are sorry for the lack of delivery in your neighborhood, and the inconvenience this has caused you and family members this weekend. The only acceptable solution is receiving your newspaper and timely delivery to all subscribers… and we’re working toward that goal. We are correcting the breakdowns in routes, and are actively responding to each person who has contacted us at email@example.com.
For some subscribers, the problem – apparently related to the paper’s switch to a new independent contractor – seems to have continued today:
Gail Neuman: Still trying to reach customer service to report no paper for the 3rd day in a row – it was hell trying to call or email customer service. Website is almost always down but was able to report a missed delivery online Saturday and Sunday late afternoons – can’t get on now to report today’s missing paper because your website is turned off again! Utter nonsense. I want my Saturday, Sunday, Monday newspapers and TV Weekly delivered this morning!
Mary Watson-Hiber: I refuse to drive 32.4 miles round trip just to get two papers that I have already paid for. It is now Monday morning 6:50 AM and no paper to read! If it doesn’t arrive this morning, I am cancelling my subscription!
The delivery problems follow a recent round of layoffs at the Register, the sale of the Santa Ana headquarters and the abrupt discontinuation, after just five months, of the print edition of newly launched sister paper the Los Angeles Register.
Update (October 7):
The Register has acknowledged the severance of its contractor-relationship with the L.A. Times as the cause of the delivery problems, and taken a swipe at its rival in the process:
Freedom Communications CEO Aaron Kushner said it’s typical for “old vendors to cooperate with new vendors to have a smooth transition of routes” but “the L.A. Times chose not to cooperate.”
“We feel terrible about it and very sincerely apologize to the minority of subscribers that have been impacted by the transition of our delivery,” Kushner said.
Some may counter with the questioning of any paper, not just the Register, that chooses to partner with a rival for such a crucial element of their business. In an announcement signed by Kushner and Freedom CEO Eric Spitz carried in today’s Register, the duo are indicating that other locations are being set up for subscribers to pick up replacement papers and that telephone customer-service staff has been added.