Smiths News has come in for a bashing. Again. Harendra Bhatt, who runs Universal News at Highbury Station in London’s Islington, was quite direct. He writes: “Please print what kind of service we get from Smiths bakers.” He calls them ‘bakers’ because Smiths delivers bread to Sainsbury’s Local in his area.

He reports that more than twice a week he doesn’t get the right order and he wants to put it to publishers that they will one day regret using Smiths after they cause newspapers and magazines to fold.

Then Subhash Varambhia weighed in from Snutch News in Leicester. He says, in writing to the house manager at Smiths News Nottingham: “In 30 years I have not come across customer service so shocking.”

He uses very forthright terms such as “denying my rights, unhelpful, obstructive, provocative, confrontational, deaf, liars, ignorant of their job role”.

Background: He had a customer who collected Formula 1 partworks. The customer pointed out a manufacturer’s defect on part 60 which was unopened. When Subhash reported this he was told it was too late and they couldn’t help. They refused to give him the contact details of the publisher, then gave him the number of what turned out to be a cake shop whose owner said they were sick of getting these calls.

Then he was told it was his fault for not spotting the defect. He says: “What! At 5am? When I’m busy organising rounds (four), serving customers, milkman, sandwiches and criminals?” (Subhash does get quite a lot of petty crime.)

Finally came what he calls a fake counter accusation, “saying I threatened to ‘beat her up’ – what me, in Leicester, 40 miles away at my tender/mature age?”

She also threatened to stop his supplies.

Then there was Kunden Singh who runs a Costcutter in Oldbury, Birmingham, who said that since Christmas he has been frequently under-supplied then given credits, and then recharged. He estimates he is losing £300-400 in recharges. I referred Kunden to the Press Distribution Forum helpline.

As I was writing this, long-suffering Bhavin Patel (Tylers Green Stores, North Weald, Essex) copied me in on his emails to Smiths. It simply said: “Please could you advise me as to why Smiths News are repeatedly failing to supply me on time as per the stated RTD of 05:30?

“I have been open since 05:15 and at the time of writing (06:06) to you am still waiting for the delivery of my newspapers and magazines.”

Also coincidentally, on the unofficial Booker symbols site, the subject of Smiths’ poor service came up, immediately prompting eight ‘me toos’.

Smiths should listen to its customers.