May 9, 2016

Sharon Ryan, your newspaper group has a delivery problem

Sharon Ryan was named president and publisher of the Bay Area News Group two years ago.

Sharon Ryan was named president and publisher of the Bay Area News Group two years ago.

JD LasicaIt’s been years since I’ve taken to my blog (which I began 15 years ago this week) to complain about a company or brand. But the San Jose Mercury News has left me little choice.

I’m an entrepreneur, as well as a former journalist, so the one thing I can’t afford is to fritter away time. But I’ve been on the phone almost nonstop with the San Jose Mercury News’ Circulation Department for the better part of two straight weeks.

As a young teenager growing up in North Jersey, my first job was as a newspaper “delivery boy,” as we were called then, and I made a point of knowing everybody on my route by heart, as I raced my bicycle to deliver the afternoon Bergen Record to everyone right after school. If I missed someone on my route, I would be horrified, and would rush out to get them a fresh paper.

Boy, are those days gone.

For the past two weeks, we’ve been subjected to the worst ongoing set of delivery problems of my lifetime. Of several lifetimes. And there appears to be no end in sight. Consider:

We did not receive our paper today, May 9.

We did not receive our paper on May 6.

We have not received our paper on May 5.

We did not receive our paper on May 4. We called and the customer service rep said they would have it redelivered. No one delivered the paper.

We did not receive a paper May 3.

We did not receive a paper Sunday May 2. We called and the person on the phone said the paper would be delivered later that day. It was not delivered.

The week before? The same thing.

No one is stealing our newspapers. For whatever reason, the contractors hired by the Merc are just not delivering the newspaper anymore. Which is pretty shocking, given that newspapers need to do everything they can to hang onto their existing readers to survive. (I get kidded by my friends about my habit of reading old media.)

I have stopped calling the Mercury News’ Circulation Dept. Every time I call, after “crediting” my account for a missed delivery, they swear up and down that the “Branch Manager” for our area would absolutely call me back the same day. He (or she) has never called. They won’t tell me his name, so we’re dealing with phantoms. They won’t tell me if there’s a circulation problem for this area.

No one at [email protected] has ever responded to our emails. And no one at the Merc has answered my complaint on Twitter. This is maddening.

So I’m going straight to the top, Ms.Sharon Ryan. Perhaps a little public shaming will get the attention of someone at your newspaper group so that they can do their job and see to it that the newspaper gets delivered. Because if all your fine journalists are continuing to put out a paper day after day, what’s the point if the readers don’t see it?
JD Lasica, founder of, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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