Never poke the beast
We’re by no means perfect. Just ask Tampa readers, whose papers probably arrived a day late the past few weeks. Or Marion readers, who’ve had to wait a few hours to pick up their papers from our office on recent Wednesdays. Or local postal workers, who’ve rushed around to accommodate production problems at our press in Hutchinson the past few weeks.
We’re not blameless in this. We typically push our deadlines — sometimes too far — to try to publish the best newspaper possible each week. Sometimes, when there are problems elsewhere in addition to our pressing, the system breaks down. Add to that our being down a person because of an injury that we hope will soon be resolved, and we’ve had later papers — for which we abjectly apologize.
What shouldn’t have been affected by any of this is delivery of papers to distant locations. Getting newspapers by mail out of state is kind of like playing the lottery. You never know when it will be your lucky day and the Postal Service will actually deliver your paper — sometimes two or three weeks’ worth at once.
We send all those papers to Kansas City, where automated sorting machines are supposed to handle them but human workers often do instead. We’ve complained and complained about delays in Kansas City. Locally, postal workers have helped us avoid Kansas City by, for example, mailing all papers destined for Tampa in Hillsboro. They still have to go to Wichita before they get to Tampa, but they don’t also have to go to Kansas City the way they would if mailed in Marion.
Like many newspapers nationwide, all of us facing a whopping 9% increase in the cost of mailing, we’ve complained about how erratic delivery to distance locations can be.
Locally, we can handle such matters. When papers destined for Florence, which we normally drop off directly at the Florence post office, vanished, workers there alerted us, and we replaced them that same day. No one has yet found what happened to the original papers, which either were stolen or were sent accidentally to the black hole of Kansas City.
Nationally, we can’t get answers to questions like that and have to urge readers to relay those questions through local post offices, which typically are not the problem.
Somewhere, the greater, grander Postal Service seems to be striking back. A reader in California recently received a copy of our newspaper, 16 days after it was mailed, with a sticker, added by the Postal Service claiming that we had somehow mis-mailed the paper. We’re guilty of many things but not that. We sent it to Kansas City, just as required, in a sealed tub marked for distant delivery.
Apparently some of that 9% increase in our mailing rates will go to buying stickers postal workers can place on mail they delay, telling customers not to blame them.
So much for poking the beast.
— ERIC MEYER