Belated Happy New Year to both news retailers and wholesalers. Mahesh Patel (Yogi Smurti Newsagents) received little Christmas Cheer from Smiths News. He writes: “Today we received a request from Smiths News to return tote boxes recorded at our premises. The letter includes round number, drop, box number, tote numbers, deliver date and times. These tote boxes date back from the middle of October 2018, approximately two months back. In theory we would return the tote boxes the next collecting date so we should only have the current tote boxes within our premises.”

The letter concluded that, if the tote boxes had not been received back by 24 December 2018 then they may charge him £6.50 plus vat for each tote box.

“When magazines are delivered there is no mention of how many tote boxes or their numbers on any the paper work provided to us, but there is mention of the tote boxes collected with the date and time of when the returns are processed.

“I wonder if any of your readers have received any similar letters which indicate phantom tote box numbers?”

I have no idea Mahesh, but we are asking here.

And how about this? Subhash Varambhia (Snutch News, Leicester) has sent a solicitor’s letter to Smiths News in relation to a formal complaint made earlier. It claims that Smiths has not complied with the Press Distribution Charter and failed to investigate Subhash’s complaint properly. His complaints about Smiths’ late deliveries go back 18 years so not much has changed. He has also lost faith in the independent complaints procedure.

It’s a brave move on his part and I hope it at least gets the wholesaler’s attention - even though there is no way any retailer could afford a full-on legal battle with Smiths.