It’s Wednesday, so it’s another bad day for magazine deliveries across Victoria and NSW as deliveries struggle to make it to their destination on time.

Another bad day Wednesday for many newsagents and other magazine outlets in Sydney. The 1st Fleet delivery trucks didn’t arrive on time and the loads of magazines didn’t arrive either.

The Tuesday night delivery time came and went and many loads ended up arriving up to 12 hours behind schedule, including the latest issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, plus a host of others.

A bad day for all concerned, but then it’s another day in the struggling logistics battle that’s the NSW and Victorian magazine markets for ACP and its arm, Network Services and Gordon and Gotch and its many clients, including Pacific Magazines, part of the Seven Network.

Gordon and Gotch is part of PMP and the company warned last week that there would be no improvement for the next few months at least, as Crikey reported in PMP delivers grim news for newsagents

The struggles of the 1st Fleet operation to delivery magazines for both retail sales and the Network Services Delivery Program (NSDP, not NDSP as on this page from the Network website).

The NSDP is the channel for home delivery of subscription copies of the ACP and third party magazines that Network handles, and it has just had its first really big setback.

A trial use of the NSDP to home delivery the Optus magazine to Optus Pay TV subscribers has been called off after four months. Network will now look at what’s more effective, the NSDP or Australia Post.

Most newsagents would say Australia Post.

No more Optus Pay TV magazines will come through the newsagent system and it will be back to Australia Post for the time being. The magazine costs $2.50 a month or $30 a year for subscribers. ACP Custom is the publisher. It also publishes the much bigger Foxtel Magazine.

There were around 170,000 or so copies of the Optus Pat TV magazine pushed through the NSDP and it was one of the biggest, trials of the system during the trial.

Here’s what Network Services told Newsagents earlier this week:

Please be advised that the Optus trial has come to a close.

Network Services and the publisher are in the process of assessing the trial results for the respective delivery methods of NSDP and post for the period Sept 04- Jan 05.

This assessment will focus in particular on the relevant methods’ service standards, including:

  • Delivery timeliness [made problematic for many due to delays from 1st Fleet problems in NSW and Vic]
  • Non-delivery rates [which follow the haphazard arrival of magazines and disgruntled agents]
  • Delivery location [secure, dry location – a problem as it costs agents time to place the mag out of the rain]

At this stage there will be no deliveries of Optus TV Guide through the NSDP from this month onwards.

On all counts Australia Post based deliveries would score higher than NSDP.

The fact that all Optus Pay TV magazines didn’t move straight away onto the NSDP would mean that it was clear during the trial that there were problems that affected delivery to subscribers.

Meanwhile this page went up on the Network website at the beginning of the month and has upset many agents trying to make the NSDP work for magazine subscribers. Network is using the agents as the gofers to fix up problems or undo mistakes from the wrong delivery of magazines by contractors, or the dispatch or wrong labelling.

Once a problem has been notified, the newsagent then has to get the magazine back to where it can be sent to the subscriber, at a cost to the agent, especially in time.

It’s no wonder that a group of rebel newsagents, based in Victoria have started agitating about the problems and costs of the NSDP.

Here’s what they sent to Crikey:

In response to newsagent concerns about NSDP we are researching financial performance at newsagent level. We would like information about your NSDP operation. Please go to our website and click on the NSDP Performance Survey link. You’ll be asked for some basic data such as revenue and expenses. This will help us understand how NSDP is working for newsagents across the country.

This is the first such national association survey of NSDP viability. We will report the results to all participants. Please register your details today at www.unitednewsagents.com.au.

The more newsagents who provide their NSDP data, the more valuable the results.

This is not going to make Network or the bosses at ACP very happy. It is a direct challenge to something they have spent a fair bit of time and money trying to build as an alterative to using Australia Post.

Australia Post is not that much more expensive, but on some magazines, such as the huge Harpers issues and the new Madison magazine (370 pages) to use Australia Post means higher costs because these magazines are heavier than say Woman’s Day, and cost more to send through the post.

Using newsagents and offering them $1.32 for Harpers and Men’s Style (which is about to go on to the NSDP) represents a cost saving for Network especially as it unloads responsibility for delivery onto the agents who can be manipulated and bossed around by network.

Network finds it hard to boss Australia Post around.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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