The real issue with newspaper deliveries

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
The Star Tribune has contracts with 21 independent distributors, i.e. “small business owners,” who then hire the people they need to get the paper to your ... roof, hostas, driveway, front steps, or not.

A month ago, the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press entered into a new, limited agreement in which each would have their carriers deliver the other’s papers in certain areas around the metro.

To paraphrase Bette Davis: “It’s been a bumpy ride.”

Stories of bungled deliveries have piled up like, well like a week’s worth of soggy newsprint clogging a rain gutter. A flood of complaints have, according to one Facebook chain out of St. Paul, choked automated systems at both papers, despite the Strib staffing up to handle the early days of the merged service.

Said one Facebook comment: “Seriously considering dropping the Strib. No delivery of our Sunday paper since the delivery change went into effect. Papers in open bags sitting in the rain at the end of the driveway. And … there is no way to talk to an agent (during their call hours, you’re placed in an endless hold loop) or to contact them by email­­; no complaint form online, either.”

“We dropped the Pioneer Press when the delivery person couldn’t figure out the difference between the sidewalk, the lawn, the gutter in the street, the snowbanks 40 feet from the door or the roof top. No amount of complaining changed anything,” said another, referencing longer-standing problems with the PiPress.

“PiPress delivery,” said a St. Paul woman, “has been amusing for a year or so …  papers wedged five feet up in a lilac bush, or disguised as a hosta. But it seems delivery people aren’t paid very well, which is another sad symptom of newspaper demise. I still try to do my ‘easter egg hunt,’ looking for the newspaper! I’ve learned to not fret until around 10 AM!”

“No Strib for us on Sunday,” said another woman. “And, I have complained to PP about inconsistent delivery this spring. Have to agree that delivery people aren’t paid well and might not care when the papers get to us.”

St. Paul resident Bob Brandt, who says he broke two ribs taking a dive on his icy driveway last winter trying to retrieve his Star Tribune, says things have been so erratic — getting three days’ worth of papers ​o​ne day then waiting half a week for the next batch — that when he got the latest bill for the Strib he put it in his, “I’ll think about it” file, while his partner tells him to “just cancel it.”

While the worst of the screw-ups seem to be concentrated in the east metro, and may​­­ be alleviated with time, there’s probably no changing underlying reality: that daily newspapers rely on low-­paid workers to provide the last vital link in their supply chain, where their carefully ­produced creation is placed in the hands of the customer. This, mind you, in an era when you might think papers would be falling over themselves to provide Apple­-like customer service for the steadily thinning demographic that wants an actual newspaper.

‘There have been bumps’

To the Strib’s credit, it at least has a person here in Minnesota a reporter can talk to about delivery issues. (Calls to the Pioneer Press and its parent company, Digital First Media, were a lot like calling Comcast on a bad hair day.)

Steve Yaeger of the Strib concedes, “There have been bumps.” But he insists they’ve been limited to certain areas in the east metro (why those areas he can’t say) and that the vast majority of Strib subscribers are getting their paper on time. He also takes pains to remind his caller that contrary to some chatter, the Strib and PiPress have not merged or entered into a Joint Operating Agreement and remain “fierce competitors” where they overlap.

(For the record, Yaeger encouraged me to print the Strib’s customer service/complaint line numbers and web address. So here you go: 612-­673-­4343; 1­-800-­775­-4344, startribune.com/customerservice)​.

What the Strib has, he says, are contracts with 21 independent distributors, i.e. “small business owners,” who then hire the people they need to get the paper to your … roof, hostas, driveway, or front steps. Or not. (The days of having Little Jimmy the freckle-­faced neighbor kid deliver the paper ended about the same time “Leave It to Beaver” went off the air.)

A 2012 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the median wage for those carriers at $11.38 an hour, with a total monthly income in the $400-­$500 range, from which you need to start deducting fuel, costs on their vehicles, and penalties for screwing up a delivery. Needless to say, there’s no medical plan.

It’s debatable whether better­-paid carriers would do a better job of home delivery, but the lowest-rent option ­­“independent contractors” ­is an industry standard. So it’s reasonable to assume that large daily newspapers like the Strib and PiPress — high-­profile media entities routinely asserting their standing as community leaders — have run the numbers and moved on, content with leaving their final link in the hands of people barely bringing home the minimum wage.

‘Do carriers receive any kind of training?’

One of the Facebook commenters was Scott Carlson, coincidentally a former PiPress reporter. “Maybe it’s time to start some sort of petition and demand to talk to the publishers. I don’t think it is an excuse that the carriers aren’t paid well. Do carriers receive any kind of training? Or acknowledgement that they are part of a bigger team that needs to work together to get a great product to the readers?”

Talking on the phone, Carlson reiterated his belief that service could only improve if the papers were required to provide adult compensation to carriers, which would mean organizing the “independent contractors” first.

Union officials are famous for talking tough and determined, so one needs to take comments from the likes of Candace Lund at the Newspaper Guild and Steve Seviola at Teamsters Local 638 (which represents the Strib’s 138 truck drivers) with a grain of salt. But both say they’re well aware of the problem, and have been since both papers went into into serious cost-­cutting (i.e. “right­sizing”) mode in ‘08-­’09.

Lund was circumspect about what exactly her plans are, but hopes there’s a way to improve matters for the carriers, many of whom are Hispanic, via a “workers’ rights” campaign.

As for the Teamsters, Seviola accepts that his union is probably best positioned to do something with the contractors, people who have taken on several significant new costs since the ‘08-­’09 meltdown, including rental of the depots where the trucks drop the papers.

“It’s on our list of things to do,” he says, with a detectable note of weariness. “The independent contractors are getting killed with costs laid on them. They were actually pretty happy before ‘08.”

‘The system works pretty well’

If either union managed to organize carriers, it’d be something close to a first. I couldn’t find an example of any big-city paper with unionized carriers, and Seviola couldn’t think of one, either.

Asked how the Strib would respond to an effort to unionize carriers, Yaeger said he had no idea, adding, “I think you’ll find the contracts we have now, the arrangement we have, is mutually beneficial, and the problems here in the early ­going withstanding, the vast majority of the time the system works pretty well.”

How well it works for the carriers, many of whom, says Yaeger, deliver papers for “supplementary income,” is a whole other question. But it is a question linked to a picture, arguably an unflattering one, of a very public entity — a big-city daily paper routinely reporting on the moral and ethical lapses of other characters of influence — relying on minimum-wage-level workers to get their product in their customers’ hands.

“I don’t think the picture is unflattering,” says Yaeger. “As I say, overall the arrangement works for everyone involved.”

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Comments (39)

  1. Submitted by kevin terrell on 06/29/2015 - 11:15 am.

    You’ve got to be kidding me

    Do carriers receive any training? Only “adult” compensation can solve this? Am I now officially old?

    Delivering newspapers was my first “real” job – as a 13-15 year old kid. I got up at 6 in the morning, biked around the neighborhood and delivered the papers. If anyone was missing their paper, I got a call that morning, and hopped right to it to solve the problem. I did that, rain or shine, 90 degree heat, or -20 F.

    Believe it or not, I even walked around the neighborhood and collected hundreds of dollars in monthly subscription fees, in cash, and then went to the bank to deposit it before cutting a check to the newspaper. What was left over was known as profit. Not wages, profit.

    Training consisted of my route manager showing me the route, and answering any questions I might have.

    Is this where we are now in this country? Adults can’t figure out how to do a child’s job without union representation and significant training?

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 06/29/2015 - 01:54 pm.

      Union Representation?

      How’d that get in there, it has nothing to do with the subject at hand. Also, you aren’t that special, thousands and thousands of kids did what you did. Growing up in the country meant our “neighborhood” was several miles in either direction, sometimes a paper not delivered was two or three miles away. Not fun at 20 bellow.

      This really has nothing to do with training or unions, actually Unions would make it better, but it has to do with contractors. If you read the article you’d notice that one entity might contract to deliver and they in turn contract with the actual deliverers. If things are the same as they were back in the 80s, those folks are paid by the piece, the faster you get the papers out there the more you make. Whether a few people complain or not doesn’t matter as much as the overall route being completed on time with the majority getting their paper. Its capitalism at its finest.

      • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 06/30/2015 - 10:35 am.

        Henk, you missed the point.

        Historically, the “delivered” newspaper was delivered by kids because that was the lowest-cost method the newspapers could work out. The paper was “sold” at a slight discount to the kids (“resellers/contractors”) and the delivery issues became theirs. That all changed when the newspapers eliminated that type of delivery and started requiring “adult” deliveries–by requiring the delivery person to own a car (for example). That eliminated the low-end (and low-cost) LOCAL delivery choices. With a car, one can deliver a much different, and much longer, route. However, the cost will also go up quite significantly.

        Digital delivery is, IMO, a good option. Sure, wanting a physical paper is nice–but it is not necessary. It might actually be cheaper to scrap ALL physical delivery and provide a FREE tablet or other e-device to access the paper online at no charge. That is what the subscription would offer and the issues of delivery now shift to the newspaper’s web service.

    • Submitted by James Willis on 06/29/2015 - 05:22 pm.

      Newspaper delivery service

      Or lack thereof is the primary reason I terminated my subscription to the StarTribune. After repeated complaints, poor S/T customer service and essentially no help from the distribution representatives, I gave up. And no regrets.

      • Submitted by Jeff Stout on 07/09/2015 - 02:37 pm.

        Poor/no customer service here either!

        I echo Mr Willis’ commentary. After 2 months of weekday deliveries after the Strib’s own “6am” delivery deadline, I finally contacted their customer service, who promised escalation to a supervisor. After 3 weeks of back and forth, with nothing changing on my end, and their continued promises to “escalate”, I finally cancelled my weekday subscription. That was 2 months ago, and I have not received one phone call, letter, or email inquiring about why I cancelled. Guess now that they have Glen Taylor’s money, they don’t need mine.

    • Submitted by Eric Franks on 12/06/2015 - 07:02 pm.

      I’ve done this job since 1969, and I have to say that you don’t

      get the changes in the way the people have been paid, told how to do the job, etc.
      In 1969, everyone got the paper do the door, between the doors, in the mailbox, what have you… and the carrier made about 4 cents a paper.

      Now in the present day, they drive a car, put gas in, deal with a dollar worth about 1/15th about what it was worth and get TEN cents a paper after bag costs… (yeah, they PAY for those)
      I guess that seems like the same pay and the same job, but guess what!??!?!
      YOU’RE WRONG.
      The paper pays so much less for the same job, and they even TELL the carrier to deliver it to the property line unless instructed otherwise…
      Who’s to blame?
      Not the carriers…

  2. Submitted by Cathy Nelson on 06/29/2015 - 11:38 am.

    Strib Delivery

    I remember fondly when the Strib was put between our two front doors, and on time. Did carriers get paid at a higher level back then? I think it was more an issue of taking pride in a job well done. I believe the owners would rather have us all go to online subscriptions. As for me, I have let the Strib know that if I can’t have my paper delivered on my top step, I will be cancelling before the snow flies.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Weyandt on 06/29/2015 - 12:24 pm.

    so make electronric sccess reasonable

    When the Strib reached $4 a week for Sunday only and electronic I bailed. PP was over $140 for Wed-Sunday and electronic for 13 weeks and so I bailed on that as well. In one day I got an email from the PP offering a year of Sunday and electronic for $25. Go for it. Great but they have missed the last 3 weeks.

    The Strib choked me off yesterday and wanted $38.37 for electronic access for 13 weeks after the initial sales rate. It simply isn’t worth $3 a week to have electronic access.

    • Submitted by ST Stevens on 06/29/2015 - 01:44 pm.

      Reasonable Prices

      If you don’t think $3 a week is a reasonable price for news then I think you need to rethink your definition of “reasonable.” To use the well-worn (but applicable) cliche, that’s less than the cost of cup of coffee.

      • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 06/30/2015 - 10:55 am.

        You missed the point.

        Getting a physical newspaper meant getting the coupons included with it. In essence, the paper was “no charge” because the coupons included were far more valuable than the price of the paper. The coupons were typically ONLY in the paper, so it was a rational reason to get the paper. It was generally not practical to get a newspaper from another area (i.e. NY Times) because it would not reasonably have an economic value (coupons/ads) to a subscriber outside the NY area.

        Today, each store has its own set of coupons on its web site. There is no need to buy a newspaper subscription to get the coupons. Thus, the “raison d’etre” of BUYING a newspaper has changed. It is now to GET relatively old news–and nothing else. There are now many more sources of non-local news online, and some of them are free. This further cuts into the value (price) of a subscription.

        Then there is the issue of “eyeballs”, i.e. people reading the site. Time is valuable (to people), and their time on ANY site has value. What is it worth–monetarily? Advertisers look at that info–and pricing a site too high means losing viewers (and thus revenue). With the primary viewership being relatively local, that means the local newspapers lose a lot of viewers to other sites and get virtually nothing in return. What the public wants to see is mostly online and is available elsewhere for free or very low cost (apps). That kills the newspaper business over time.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/29/2015 - 01:01 pm.

    Two Latino people deliver my Star Tribune (and Sunday NYTimes, as well). They do a fantastic job! The papers are delivered at about 3 to 4 a.m. every day, to my doorstep. They don’t miss a day, they’re never late, no mistakes or mis-throws into the garden.

    I think the East Metro folks who are now delivering the Pi Press as well as the Strib maybe need training. But they all need more money than the dinky wages the Star Tribune is paying.

    I note that the Star Tribune’s recent increases in subscription costs for the paper edition are two or three double-digit increases in a row, and the paper is now not only out of the woods it created for itself with that horrendous leveraged buyout (right?), but is making a profit. Increasing subscription costs, buy refusing to pay a decent wage to those at the bottom.

  5. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 06/29/2015 - 01:15 pm.

    I wonder…

    ..if the Sunday Strib that started appearing on my sidewalk about 2 months ago should be going to one of these folks who actually ordered it but aren’t getting it?

  6. Submitted by Donald Pults on 06/29/2015 - 01:19 pm.

    Cost cutting costing service

    I am one of those weekend carrier guys. I’m not an idiot who needs training (sorry to disappoint you Kevin), and yes, I try to do my job well (sorry to disappoint you Cathy). I have a Master’s degree and am a high school teacher. As we all know, teachers get paid minimally, so I began delivering papers about 17 years ago to help make ends meet (it also meant that I could still attend my children’s events/family things on the weekend). As of a month ago, I delivered about 200 papers on a Sunday. My customers received their papers on time and exactly where they wanted them to be. With this “merging”, I now have to do over 500. I was told by my boss to just put them at the end of the driveway unless the customer specifically asked for the paper to be somewhere else. I worked for 6 and 1/2 hours this past Sunday to try and serve the customers. It was physically impossible without bending time or space to get the papers to the customers’ doors by the Sunday morning deadline time. This merging has been a disaster, and the entire burden has been placed upon the carriers. I will be finding another way to make ends meet and giving up this “job” after almost 20 years. The expectation placed on the carriers is astronomical and ludicrous. Not looking for a pity party, so Kevin and Cathy, you’ll be happy to know that you can have my job because it’s so unbelievably easy. Then you can take home all the “profits”.

    • Submitted by Cathy Nelson on 06/29/2015 - 01:31 pm.

      Apologies

      If you deliver the paper where you were instructed to deliver it, I apologize. I was wrong. I am disappointed that the Strib told you to deliver at the end of the driveway, but that is not your issue.

      • Submitted by Donald Pults on 06/29/2015 - 01:50 pm.

        Sorry for being snarky. The last few weeks have just been really frustrating because I do try to keep the customers happy and put it where they want it to be.

    • Submitted by Crystal Brakke on 06/29/2015 - 02:32 pm.

      Thank you…

      …for what you do–in your day job and weekend job, both.

    • Submitted by Steve Zanmiller on 03/19/2017 - 01:59 pm.

      Delivery

      Donald,
      Thanks for your efforts. I only wish you were my Moms delivery person.
      My Mom had a stroke and is disabled. Her paper is consistently thrown on the ground and out of reach. The delivery tube is ignored.
      We have had this reviewed by a “Supervisor” so many times it laughable.
      Unfortunately there’s an 87 year old disabled lady who can’t read her paper.
      After the process of customer service is apparently useless, can you recommend any ideas to resolve this. All we know is it just the weekend delivery at issue.
      Any suggestions would be appreciated.

      Thanks,
      Steve Z

      • Submitted by Daniel DeColumna on 08/01/2018 - 07:15 pm.

        Belated answer

        Hello Steve,

        I realize I am late to the party, but I wanted to help. Try to contact the carrier directly. Either by leaving a note or sign. The better carriers will supply their number directly to their customers with a card when they take over the route. We also include a card with the paper of new subscribers that welcome them and give them our contact information. Also, if there is a press or weather delay, we change the greeting on our voicemail to include today’s date and the relevant information (dangerous to field calls while delivering). People are far more forgiving when they have an effective line of communication and when there is an effort to keep them informed.

        Regards,
        Dan

  7. Submitted by Scott Walters on 06/29/2015 - 01:20 pm.

    Our Pi Press Delivery is Perfect

    Has been for years. Always on time, always propped right against the screen door, and always wrapped appropriately for the weather. They must place it against the door, and not toss it, because the plastic bag is never even scratched.

    The NYTimes, on the other hand, is not quite as good. Almost always on time, usually on the porch, but must be tossed because the bag usually gets torn on the steps. I think the Times uses the same delivery service as the Strib. Occasionally they miss the steps and it ends up down in the garden (and buried in the snowbanks in the winter).

  8. Submitted by Erik Petersen on 06/29/2015 - 03:04 pm.

    SPPPD delivery

    With the SPPPD the penalty to the carrier for a weekday complaint was a dollar not so long ago, while the carrier was making .33 cents on them. I think it was a $5 ding on a Sunday. With this, certainly you had motivation to get the deliveries and placement correct but the obnoxiousness of the subscribers with their petty complaints to the phone line made it a no win game at times. Door step delivery is an absurdity.

  9. Submitted by Beth Dhennin on 06/29/2015 - 05:08 pm.

    Newspaper Delivery

    Having subscribed to the StarTrib for more years than I care to divulge, I strongly
    support those who’ve had almost nothing but successful carriers! We, too, find our
    paper wrapped in plastic – weather dependent, and so close to the open front door
    that I barely have to step outside to retrieve it…It is my theory that an excellent record
    of deliveries DESERVES a generous tip – from me – at each bill-time; and I make sure
    that tips go to BOTH carriers: weekday AND weekend!

  10. Submitted by Charlie Curry on 06/29/2015 - 05:11 pm.

    Strib delivery in South Metro

    Since Mr. Taylor has taken over the Strib, the delivery, especially on weekends has really declined.

    It’s bad enough that the “on time” time is 8 rather than 7, but the 8 isn’t honored either. If you call the delivery number it says “due to problems, the time has been extended to 10.”

    Since the quality of the paper itself has also declined under Taylor, this is not as distressing as it could be. (An ENTIRE page for one of Kathryn Kersten’s conspiracy theories about “liberals” and “sustainability?)

  11. Submitted by Wayne Pulford on 06/29/2015 - 06:42 pm.

    Scrib delivery in Proctor, MN

    The first half of April I was on a trip so I stopped my delivery of the Star Tribune and started up up when I got back and didn’t get the paper on the weekends for about six weeks. It finally occurred to me that the carrier probably has an extra paper but does not know where it goes even though I contacted the Strib for six weeks, there is a different carrier on the weekends than during the week. I get the Duluth News Tribune as well as the Strib and they are delivered by the same carrier.

    So I made a sign stating I get the Star Tribune as well as the Duluth News Tribune and I start to get both papers on the weekend. The problem was not with the carrier but with the paper. I don’t know where the communications broke sown but the carrier just wasn’t getting the information.

  12. Submitted by Scott Stocking on 06/29/2015 - 10:09 pm.

    I love my daily print edition

    of the ST, been a subscriber for decades. For the past couple of years my weekday delivery has been awful. I once complained about the paper being wet on rainy days even though it was in a bag. The problem could be solved, I told the ST, by throwing the paper onto my big wrap-around porch. The carrier took my complaint to mean I didn’t want it bagged. Now, rather than throwing it on my porch year round, it still gets thrown only halfway up the sidewalk – unbagged in the snow in the winter, and bagged in the summer in inclement weather IF my carrier happened to see a weather report before he went to bed. Weekends are different – thrown on the porch every day. I hate to complain about the service again because I get my paper early enough to take it to work every day, and I realize the delivery people get paid squat. I just need to figure out how to tip my weekend person for the good service.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/30/2015 - 08:49 am.

    That’s the private sector for you.

    They had a perfectly good and efficient distribution system and they screwed it up. I always assumed they had to stop using kids because someone finally got around to pointing out that we have child labor laws in this country?

    Mr. Lambert, when referencing an historical event, please use dates rather than pop-culture references. I’m not sure “Leave it to Beaver” has ever really gone off the air, but I do know that my High School and Junior High School friends were delivering papers the old school way as late as 1981. If you actually know when they made the switch, it would be nice if you shared that information.

    Meanwhile, last year for some reason the Strib started throwing garbage on every lawn they could find once a week and caused something of a kurfuffle, at least here in St. Louis Park. Some kind of Strib publication I didn’t want, ask for, or subscribe to starting appearing on all of our lawns and driveways every week. I don’t really know what it was because I never looked at it I just tossed it directly into the recycling bin. I did however call the Strib and tell them I didn’t appreciate their throwing garbage on my property. I suggested that if they want to throw something in my recycling bin they should come out and do it themselves rather than toss on my lawn for me to do. Apparently I wasn’t the only one calling and since the Strib ignored all of us and kept on throwing that garbage on our property the city eventually had to get involved. Whatever it was they were littering my city with it seems to have stopped. So how much did it cost to print and “deliver” whatever that was to 30+ thousand homes in SLP? Only to get charged as a litter bug?

    As for the regular paper, if you want to sell delivered subscriptions you need to deliver the subscription you sell, period. For most people that means their door step. It doesn’t matter how much your charging one way or the other if you don’t deliver what people are paying for they will stop paying. So the question will be whether or not the money you’re “saving” on delivery costs will equal or surpass the money you lose on your lost subscriptions? Given the lost customers is it really cheaper to hire someone to hire someone to deliver your product than it would be to simply hire people to deliver your product? Can your contractors really provide better service? And is the cheapest delivery costs really the best business model?

    Our experience has been that we get our Sunday papers (Strib and NYT’s) on our doorstep on time almost always. When there’s a problem we report it and it’s resolved quickly. Although we usually get a note from the carrier that we should call THEM instead of the Strib, and I can see why they want us to do that but it’s not going to happen.

    On another note, I doubt it has anything to do with the new owners but I actually think the Strib’s reporting has gotten better over the last couple of years. However I would note that my NYT’s Sunday subscription gets us full digital access. I think if the Strib bumped up their Sunday only subscription 25 cents and granted digital access along with it they might have better luck getting people to pay their digital content.

  14. Submitted by John N. Finn on 06/30/2015 - 09:56 am.

    The Beaver

    “(The days of having Little Jimmy the freckle-­faced neighbor kid deliver the paper ended about the same time “Leave It to Beaver” went off the air.)”

    Maybe true in Lesser Minnesota, but here in Greater Minnesota (Winona) our local paper is delivered by a boy on a bicycle. Last year it was a neighborhood middle school girl. But the Strib or USA Today is thrown out of a passing car landing in the general vicinity of subscribers’ front lawns.

    My brief stint as a delivery boy back in the day was as a substitute for a friend. Subscribers could receive one or more of a daily morning, daily afternoon, and Sunday paper. Checking the list at each house was slowing my route, so I had what I thought was a good idea: put a small magic marker symbol on the front step indicating which paper to leave. After a couple of days residents started to notice resulting in great consternation as to what these symbols meant or portended. Not the only trouble I got into growing up, but one of the more serious.

  15. Submitted by Ben Grizby on 06/30/2015 - 08:16 pm.

    A word of advice on tipping

    Never, EVER choose the option on your bill that says “carrier tip”. That money never makes it way to the carrier, but is rather snatched up in a greedy fashion by the agent.

    A “good” agent will give 10% of the tip money to the carrier; the majority of them just keep all of the money.

    If you want to tip your carrier, either sent it directly to him/her at Christmas time or send nothing at all.

    We would rather receive nothing than see the agents steal our money/

  16. Submitted by Dan Landherr on 07/01/2015 - 09:43 am.

    I never have problems with my MinnPost delivery

    I get the Pioneer Press Wed-Sun at home because they charge me $2 a year and the coupons more than make up that cost. I rarely have time to do more than glance at the paper in the morning and by the time I look at the physical copy I’ve read all the articles I wanted to read online or they’re out of date. Most times the paper is tossed and the whole process is basically a coupon delivery service.

    I do appreciate the online access that comes with the subscription.

  17. Submitted by cindy carlsson on 07/01/2015 - 05:47 pm.

    home delivery is an invitation to burglery

    Last year we awoke to a loud discussion out on the street between a Strib carrier and their boss. At the end they both drove off in different directions leaving the wad of papers one of them (we think the higher-up) had left on the roof of her car go flying behind her. A few hours later, with the papers still in the street, we went out to pick them up. It was the stop delivery list for my neighborhood and beyond, including the names, addresses, and stop delivery dates for all the vacation holds. Yeah, THEY LEFT A LIST LAYING IN THE STREET WITH THE NAMES OF SCORES OF RESIDENTS, THEIR ADDRESS, AND THE DATES WHEN THEIR HOMES WOULD LIKELY BE VACANT DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS. We removed the list from the street and contacted the Strib via email and twitter asking if they wanted to pick it up or trust us destroy it. NO RESPONSE, ever. Needless to say, we will never have home delivery of either paper ever again. And I used to complain about fishing the paper out of the back of the flowerbed. . . .

  18. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 07/03/2015 - 03:30 pm.

    I’ve taken print edition of the Strib for the last 20+ years and rarely have a delivery problem. Guess I’ve taken good service for granted and I will remember this around Christmas time.

  19. Submitted by Melody Myers on 08/06/2015 - 11:00 pm.

    Other aspects of delivery

    I’ve worked for a metropolitan newspaper for nearly 14 years in the circulation department. I’ve been an Assistant Manger, a District Manager and a Newspaper Carrier. It’s frustrating when you don’t receive your newspaper. The blame for this is placed on the carrier 99% of the time.

    Unfortunately, the explanation for a failed delivery is is often not so simple. Your carrier works at the mercy of the newspaper. They are given a number of papers and a list of addresses. Often, these addresses are notated with “notes” that are years old and don’t make sense. They addresses are in numerical order, which makes a carrier drive around in circles trying to find your address. Most people don’t leave their porch light on, and addresses are difficult to find. If you live in a city with infill, they are sometimes not even in sequence on the street.

    Believe it or not, papers are often stolen. To the person who didn’t pay for the subscription, it’s just a paper. It means nothing and is worth very little. They are picked up from sidewalks, off the tables in in waiting rooms, from the hallways in apartment buildings. Does your paper get wet? Why are your sprinklers on when you know the paper will be coming? Is it fair for your carrier to run through the sprinklers at 4 am?

    Finally there is the relationship between your carrier and the newspaper itself. A carrier is an “independent contractor”. Despite this, there is no freedom for the carrier; only cost. They use their car, pay for their insurance and purchase their own supplies. They make anywhere from .12 to .20 cents a paper. That’s what they make for assembling (yes, they often put it together) prepping and delivering your paper. Calling and “complaining” charges the carrier anywhere from $1 to $10. It goes up as a customer calls in again. This is frustrating for the carrier. Depending on their “contract” with the newspaper, they are sometimes not allowed to contact the customer and they rely on communication from some sort of service department down to them. Often, by the time your carrier gets it it isn’t even correct. They are required to work 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If they would like a day off, they must find someone else to delivery for them, often having to pay twice what they earn. When they receive a high number of charges for unwarranted things, they care less and less.

    Sometimes, the reason you do not receive your paper is your carriers fault. Sometimes it isn’t.

  20. Submitted by alma bucklaschuk on 09/19/2015 - 02:06 am.

    delivery issues

    a friend told me of this site tonite…feel sorry for allllll!!! customers and carriers and customer service reps!. take a portion of all complaints and postings*** and… it will not even come close to the truth from any newspaper company AND behind the scenes of their issues. customers get lied to over service issues…carriers are wrongly charged over false complaints…or wrongly entered complaints….to delivery guidelines by the newspaper company involved…in all areas…and countries. etc etc….but i read all postings and couldnt believe some of the lies the customers are told and even the carriers etc. to bad the papers dont tell the truth to their employees so the customers also knew the truth..and not being told different things by different employees at all levels!!

  21. Submitted by Sandra Danger on 11/22/2015 - 05:06 pm.

    You kill me

    Newspaper delivery people get paid .12 cents a paper, and sometimes have to drive over 50 miles a night monday through Sunday. For every complaint about any issue, the person does not get paid. In fact I worked for three weeks, putting together five sections, paying for the rubber bands, the rain proof plastic, and my gas every single night. Long driveways in the hills, rain, sleet, snow, and being either robbed or harassed by police. I sprained my ankle, limping to place the paper on your door, and my car is almost dead.
    Well, I do not get a paycheck at all, I receive no pay, and the manager says that their is no hierarchy in place, and I owe her money. Originally promised three to five hundred dollars in two weeks, and pay day rolls around and she tells me it is negative. Why, because I filled my car to the brim, and had to make two trips, and wrap papers from 6pm to 4:00 am in the morning. The final truck arrives at 2:00 am and every thing I wrapped from 6pm -2-pm was doubled. I am supposed to deliver to 300 people including apartments in two hours. I could not do it, and people complained, in fact so many people complain, I do not receive any pay, and now I am claiming bankruptcy. So when I listen to you complain, I think how disgusting America is, and how ugly you people are.

    • Submitted by Eric Franks on 12/06/2015 - 07:12 pm.

      I’m sorry about your experience… I know how to deliver (30yrs)

      and I STILL have trouble making money. I see new people come in and get promised pay, and I know they’re going to lose money, get blamed for being lazy, or worse… and this is AMERICA!
      If you get the paper, and have good delivery,,,, make sure they keep paying their workers, because this seems like a cost saver to them all.

  22. Submitted by Eric Franks on 12/06/2015 - 06:13 pm.

    Not as cut and dry as people think…

    Delivering newspapers is easy. It really is… the problem is that you get paid about 10c a paper so you need to deliver 100+ an hour, or you lose money.
    Seriously… read that again if you blame your carrier…
    The pay sucks, and the only way to make money is curbside delivery (in a lot of areas these days).
    Blame your paper, not the carrier, please.
    When they paid, the delivery guy delivered.

  23. Submitted by Brenda Manderfeld on 12/17/2015 - 07:04 am.

    Newspaper carriers

    I am an adult who delivers a daily newspaper in Mankato, Minnesota along with the Star Trib., Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and the Pioneer Press. I have delivered papers for more than 15 years and am sad to say I am quitting my route. When I started I had Sunday’s off. I have not had a day off in 3 years. Supplies have quadrupled in price along with the difficulty of delivery. All of the different papers have different delivery days. Everyday, Thursday through Sunday and Sunday only. I am paid by the paper , The Free Press, the main paper I deliver pays 18.66 cents and all of the other papers pay 10 cents. I am charged 1 dollar for each missed paper and 2 dollars on Sunday. I deliver everyday to the front door of all of my customers. I deliver in rain and snow and am required to pay 22 dollars per box of plastic bags that I have to use in order to deliver a dry paper. I also have to deliver 500 Home magazine shopper papers once a week. This alone takes more than 4 hours and I am only paid fifty dollars. I cannot refuse to deliver any of these papers or I loose my route. When my son had an emergency appendectomy I did my route. I am a single parent so he sat in the hospital alone. When my car caught fire I did my route. The reason I am finally quitting is about money. I was overpaid for 3 months, I did not realize I had been over paid because I did additional routes each month. My December chech was more than 400 dollars short so I contacted my manager. I was told that I was overpaid so they took it out of my pay 10 days before Christmas. I don’t think I am going to do a good job anymore.

  24. Submitted by Gary Larson on 01/18/2016 - 10:28 pm.

    Missed deliveries

    I’ve been a a suscriber of the STAR TRIBUNE for40+ yrs. Since the end of this summer I have had no less than 6 missed deliveries of the Sunday STAR TRIBUNE. ThThe Saturday paper is almost non existing.
    When I called to report the missed delivery the recording said that I was too late.
    I used to get delivery around 6 am. O9 I have to wait until after 9:00 AM to report it? The window for my interest is long gone by then!
    I’m canceling my subscription!

  25. Submitted by susan roeling on 04/06/2017 - 03:29 pm.

    thursday paper thrown in driveway again

    I called in to complain before but person on the line didn’t seem to care, didn’t even ask my name, no explanation, the box is right there put the damn paper in it!

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