Complaints about the standard of service offered by newspaper and magazine wholesalers increased by nearly 65% in 2006-2007.
A total of 341 complaint forms were issued under the ISSA (Industry Standards of Service Agreement) restitution procedure between October 2006 and September 2007, addressing 771 breaches of standards by 64 wholesale houses.
ISSA group chairman Neil Robinson said the rise in complaints was “probably accounted for by publicity in the trade press surrounding self-regulation”.
He added: “The mere existence of ISSA ensured that 92.4% of complaints got resolved at the conciliation stage.”
However, Association of News Retailers (ANR) managing director John Lennon described this explanation as “rubbish”. He said: “There is plenty of evidence that service levels have got worse, as letters and articles in the trade press have shown. The rise in complaints demonstrates that self-regulation of the distribution process is unworkable.”
Customer service was the leading area of complaint, making up 28% of the total. Complaints about timeliness of delivery, at 21.8%, have fallen from 60.1% in 2000/01.
In a 2007 poll of 1000 retailers, the ANR found that only 35% were aware of the ISSA complaints procedure.