The following case goes back a couple of months, with the retailer (Anand Patel) getting in touch after having read a stream of other retailers’ beefs about late deliveries. He trades as West Street News in Farnham, Surrey. His deliveries should be at 6am, but were more like 6.30, and worse on weekends.

When he contacted me he said that on that morning the driver told him that he was doing the round to suit himself, not the retailer. When he rings Menzies Distribution (MD) he gets told different things such as it’s the publisher’s fault (when he checks he finds not so). He was also told that Lidl is a national account so takes precedence. He says Lidl doesn’t open until 8am. Some days he is the last one to get supplies.

He doesn’t employ children, but has a guy who comes in who also has another job to go to, so he has to pay him regardless. He has had to drop several rounds.

I handed this over to Dorothy King, who handles the complaints process through the Press Distribution Forum.

From her emails I noted that Anand had been trading from the premises for 21 years and had been operating two HND rounds serving about 100 customers a day, but due to the late deliveries had reduced this to one, concentrating on just 65 commercial business accounts.

She detailed the log that Anand had kept (good idea: keep a log) and catalogued the hoops Anand had had to jump through when he tried to discuss this with his supplier, and how the buck had been passed to make it appear that News UK was at fault due to late delivery to the wholesaler (she got a list from News UK that passed the buck firmly back to MD). And she noted that Anand had been advised that MD will look at reviewing the round, but this would take 8-12 weeks.

There was a lot more detail than I have space for here and an important point that Dorothy made - national accounts, like Lidl, do not take precedence. Each account is important.

I understand from staff running the place while Anand is away that weekday deliveries are now arriving on time. But the weekend deliveries still need a bit of work.