As mentioned in the lead piece (see cartoon), I’ve been keeping Dorothy King, administrator for the Press Distribution Forum, busy with problems from retailers about their news wholesalers.

The latest candidate I’ve referred to her putting-the-news-business-to-rights world was Naresh Chadda, who runs Cox’s Pond Stores in Hemel Hempstead. For a year or more he has been ordering one daily copy of the Irish Times and one daily copy of the Irish Independent for one customer. Smiths News regularly decides that, because of this daily requirement, there must be scope to sell more copies. Naresh knows better (and he’s been in the business for donkey’s years).

He says: “There is no other problem - it’s just the marketing department. Their wisdom is that there’s a ‘call’ for these titles. There isn’t. I don’t know how many times I have told Smiths. When I call, everyone is apologetic and says it’s a simple problem to fix and then it’s right for a couple of weeks but then it reverts.”

Why can’t it be permanently sorted?, he asks. “It’s not rocket science.” More like an itch he can’t scratch.

He adds that he has spoken to quite reasonable and responsible people at the Borehamwood depot. Just last week he spoke to a group manager who promised to fix it, but it went wrong again this week.

He asks why can’t they treat him as a proper customer? If he treated his customers the way Smiths treats him, he wouldn’t have any customers. But, of course, he cannot pick and choose his suppliers in the news world.

He reckons that this is some sort of computer-generated glitch, an asterisk placed next to his order perhaps. Anyone know?