According to betterRetailing’s analysis, late deliveries were the most cited reason for complaints about news wholesalers to the Press Distribution Forum (PDF).
Last March, the PDF launched its own Charter, aimed at defining the standards that publishers and wholesalers must respect for their services to partner retailers.
It provides a two-step process that allows retailers to formally raise any concerns about breaches of the standards against wholesalers.
betterRetailing analyzed the PDF’s latest charter, which includes reports from October to December 2021, as well as an annual review for the same year, and complaints filed through March 2022.
It should be noted that where complaints are not resolved informally, the retailer concerned has the option of raising it more formally, otherwise known as Step One. If again not satisfied with the outcome, or if there is no response from the wholesaler, the retailer can escalate the complaint to the second stage.
From January to December 2021, more than 5,600 complaints were filed informally, by more than 54,000 merchants.
Smiths News received the most complaints during this period, receiving 2,799 in total. Menzies followed, with 2,777 complaints.
From October to December last year, a total of 35 complaints were transferred to stage one and one was forwarded to stage two.
Throughout 2021, on-time delivery accounted for 34% of complaints, followed by quality of delivery (26%) and returns (21%).
The report said, “Recent supply chain challenges, including driver shortages, are likely one of many factors in these recent statistics.”
Looking to the first three months of 2022 through March, Smiths News remained the most complained wholesaler, with a total of 910 informal complaints registered and 14 PDF standards violations.
During the same period, Menzies registered a total of 702 complaints, with 26 violations of PDF standards.
Meeting deadlines, quality of items, returns and invoicing were listed as the top three reasons for not meeting standards.
In addition, between January and March this year, the publisher News UK received 29 complaints.
A spokesperson for Menzies said: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and as such we are focused on reviewing feedback and improving customer satisfaction. Menzies captures and reviews data daily to ensure SLAs are being met. Additionally, a weekly complaints dashboard is reviewed at the senior level. We also carry out bi-monthly internal NPS surveys and quarterly external surveys. The pre-Stage 1 complaint percentage against deliveries is currently very low at 0.03% and we are continually looking for ways to improve our service. »
A spokesperson for Smiths News told betterRetailing: “Communication is key to maintaining strong and successful relationships with our customers and when they are unhappy with something we want to hear about it. At Smiths News, we pride ourselves on offering prompt resolution to all complaints received and ensuring that we address the root cause to ensure such issues never happen again.
“That’s why we’ve relaunched our dedicated Careline complaints escalation service – open from 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and committed to resolving complaints within 48 hours when possible – and added a brand new online account management tool and a phone app, SNapp, to make it even easier for our customers to file a complaint.
“This increased accessibility has led to an increase in the number of complaints received and given us the opportunity to identify recurring customer and deposit issues.
“As part of our complaints management framework, we have further improved the process by investing in new technology systems that allow us to triage and direct all complaints to the appropriate repository. New response time targets have also been set to enable quick resolutions, with all relevant statistics reported regularly to the Press Distribution Forum.
“The Smiths News team continues to monitor trends in the type of complaints received and is working to develop initiatives to address them at source. With improved and expanded connections between us and our customers, it’s no surprise that “they come to us with an increased level of complaints. It’s all part of the positive and healthy conversation we have with them, and we’re confident that this openness will allow us to resolve issues quickly and ultimately lead to a decrease in the volume of complaints received.
When approached by betterRetailing, News UK declined to comment.
Read more news and articles about the Newspapers & Magazines category and click here for the latest ABC circulation figures