But for some retailers the move has had the opposite effect. In the last issue Bhavin Patel complained very politely about the service to his business, Tylers Green Stores in North Weald, Essex. He’s written to them again since, pointing out 55 missing magazine credits. There are also missing tote boxes, late arrivals and his own ill health to consider. This is both tedious and time-consuming for him, and he is at a bewildered loss.
He has now asked for a stage two complaints form.
Similarly, Harendra Bhatt has complained of failed deliveries and says the Hemel Hempstead warehouse doesn’t have enough packers or enough drivers. “So how can they run business in a professional manner?”
He claims that Smiths News closed down several depots to make Hemel Hempstead a ‘super-house’ without any kind of homework. “Now we both are paying a heavy price. In short, when you can’t run your core business you don’t go for Amazon delivery and Hovis bread delivery.”
His latter remark refers to Smiths’ latest addition of bread deliveries to stores in the London area.
Unlike Bhavin, though, Harendra doesn’t pull any punches. He calls them “pathetic” and “screw-ups” and worse. Sometimes it works. On a recent email he told me that he was now getting daily calls from them in advance of him contacting them.
He is still extremely angry, though, particularly when he ran into his driver (whom he feels sorry for) outside Waitrose where he had to spend 20 minutes picking up returns and was therefore late. And particularly when he sees Smiths delivering bread to three Sainsbury’s Locals.
In his opinion he is paying £50 a week for a below-par service and he would like the publishers to know this. He is about to embark on the formal complaints process.
Raj Patel, who runs Newsbit in Watford, complains that his service, too, has got far worse since the warehouse moved from Borehamwood to Hemel Hempstead and he had plenty of examples. Here’s one: he ordered, and sold, one copy of Darts World so Smiths’ marketing department increased his order to nine copies. Then they only delivered four. He’s now waiting for the credit.
He also feels sorry for the drivers - and Smiths’ shareholders! “They should watch their backs,” he jokes.
I have just ‘forwarded’ Raj to Dorothy King, who will guide him through the complaints process on behalf of the Press Distribution Forum.