Australian Newsagency Blog

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Do newsagents have the guts to fight for their future?

Mark Fletcher
April 30th, 2009 · 20 Comments

The treatment of newsagents by News magazines over Alpha magazine is, in my view appalling. We built this title on a promise of partnership with a significant financial carrot as our return.  News magazines has taken that carrot away and handed the title to NDD, a magazine distributor with a less than clean track record for equitable supply of magazines and with a history of refusing to cut titles – that it my experience at least.

So, here we are, shafted.  My question for newsagents is what are we doing about this in our businesses?  Are newsagents writing to NDD to cancel the title and copying the correspondence to News Magazines? Are we complaining here and in other places but putting Alpha on the shelves as usual and thereby saying to suppliers that it is okay to whack us again and again?  Or, are we doing nothing?  Traditionally, newsagents have done nothing when suppliers have changed commercial arrangements to the detriment of newsagents.

One day, newsagents will stand up for themselves.  I wonder if that day is now.

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Category: magazines · supplier arrogance

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michael // Apr 30, 2009 at 7:09 AM

    I have.

    I’ve recently spoken to an environmental group, trying to talk me into sponsoring a reforestation program.

    I alerted them to the behaviour of a certain magazine distribution company and an irresponsible publisher on their motus operandi. (Full magazine returns for crap magazines which are over supplied and don’t sell because there is NO demographic for them in Australia)

    The environmental group were very surprised that this was going on in Australia and were very keen on getting more details from me, as it was an easy project for them to solve.

    A 80% sell through rate is possible and should be the aim.

    The details for them are pending.

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  • 2 Luke // Apr 30, 2009 at 7:59 AM

    Respect starts from within, if newsagents want respect from suppliers then they need to treat their own businesses with respect. If you do not pay your accounts what happens? You get cut off and start getting threatening letters, phonecalls and email, but what is happening when the suppliers do not hold up their end, we whinge and moan but very few of us do anything to stop the rot. If you are getting continually oversupplied and are being refused returns without explaination then stop your account.
    If you call the supplier and ask for your account to be placed on hold for a period and they still supply you then the responsibility is on them to recover the stock, you do not need to pay for the stock they send, and they need to recover their own goods.

    Think about it, if you are asked to stop a newspaper delivery but you still deliver will the customer pay you, or do you need to cover the loss because they have asked to be stopped? If people are too scared to cancel the accounts all together then place the problem supplier on hold until they give you respect, and if they still don’t then you need to walk away from these suppliers, and concentrate on those that help our businesses instead of feathering their own nest.
    I speak from experience, we placed NDD on hold for 2 months and when they continued to oversupply and short credit we closed our account. This is my business and if suppliers want their product in my store they need to show me some respect, if not they can sell their sh#t somewhere else. I will not let my business go to the wall because of someone elses mistakes and I suggest other do the same.
    Mark if you are so upset with NDD why do you still have an account with them?

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  • 3 Y&G // Apr 30, 2009 at 8:07 AM

    I don’t know about having the guts – and I’d never assume whether other businesses have it or not – to arc up, but since when has anyone’s questioning been fruitful?
    Writing to NDD is pointless.
    Writing to IPMG re NDD is also pointless.

    If our feedback is not acknowledged (re cessation of normal services to our agency, not Alpha), then hard copy might be the go.
    Given the weeks elapsed since the deed, however, I’m not hopeful.
    Quite right to not pull any punches in our response, then, obviously.

    Unfortunately, voting with one’s chequebook seems to be the only way. In other words, tell them to bugger off. And who’s going to do that completely? NDD? Yes, that ‘s easy.But News? Not quite so simple. Like your rep is even going to give a toss… That’s if you can even remember what your News rep looks like…

    Incidentally, if we had taken up NDD’s very generous option of keeping on the “exceptions”, we would most certainly have been given Alpha.

    Our business hasn’t been affected at all adversely since we told them to stick their “exceptions” up their jumpers.

    Now for the paper run… Does gots to work up some guts for that one..

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  • 4 Derek // Apr 30, 2009 at 10:28 AM

    Mark

    A quick comment- Newsagents should be taking a stand, some cannot take a stand because they are not members of NDD or are not wanted as members of NDD and therefore cannot get direct supply.

    I am not an Newsagent Association person at this point in time, mainly because from what i have read Associations do not listen and react strongly for its members on fundamental issues such as this.

    I would appreciate individual Newsagents take a stand on this issue.

    I personally believe that Associations / Federations should be taking the stand and advising its members and non members to take ALPHA of the shelves until this debacle can be rectified to the status quo. What I cannot understand is why they have not, Associations should treat their intense and demanding work on complex issues with the same on fundamental issues such as ALPHA.

    Membership in my opinion will continually decline if they do not understand this.

    Derek

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  • 5 ANDY // Apr 30, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    is the commision on alpha worth what it stands for?time to make a point!! no alapha here

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  • 6 Brad // Apr 30, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    Mark,
    Let’s no forget it is not only NDD and News that have forged ahead with bad business practice, Colonial by charging stores that open their door early are directly opposing the core of newsagents. We are the traditional first call for many on their way to work.
    Having the guts to stand up for your business is why we take the step to be business owners. Some comments made on this post show that their are newsagents who will fight for their shops.
    I haven’t cut NDD yet but it is coming 2 months of NO CREDITS due to their unprofessional conduct. With Alpha mags we only received about 5 more than with News (not too bad considering what the other guys have had).
    As with Luke we have taken the approach that this is our business and we will not put up with suppliers taking more than we get.

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  • 7 Derek // Apr 30, 2009 at 12:01 PM

    Andy

    I appreciated your comment, wish I did not get carried away with my long posts sometimes.

    Your message is loud and clear in 2 lines.

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  • 8 David // Apr 30, 2009 at 5:54 PM

    I am an NDD “exceptions” agent.
    I received NIL Alpha (Yay!!), as expected.

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  • 9 Derek // Apr 30, 2009 at 8:44 PM

    The idea of me not understanding why Associations were not making noise on the ALPHA debacle made me pretty vocal and critical of Associations, I was encouraged to go to the horses mouth by Graeme Day so I emailed NANA with my concerns and an exerpt from this blog on how this ALPHA betrayal decision has affected Newsagents throughout the Australian Newsagency Channel, from using Newsagents to get ALPHA into the position where it is a top selling magazine and then dumping Newsagents as their promoters and removing their 50% commission and News Ltd then getting it distributed by NDD which then meant that many Newsagents that don’t belong to NDD would not get direct supply of ALPHA together with the many Newsagents that were told by NDD that their NDD accounts were being terminated which means they do not have access to direct supply of ALPHA.

    This afternoon I received a pleasant, open and honest call from Mario Properzi from Member Services at NANA. After our brief and fast talking conversation I asked his permission if I could post the information NANA shared on what NANA knew about the ALPHA issue.

    NANA received communication from Liza McNally from News Ltd and was asked if NANA perceived any issues from Newsagents about its intentions to change the way ALPHA would be distributed. NANA at this time asked who would be distributing ALPHA if this change was to go ahead. Liza McNally from News Ltd could not confirm at that time who would be the distributor however it was said that NDD would probably get it.

    NANA then shared its concerns with Liza McNally from News Ltd that if NDD did get the distributor rights for ALPHA many Newsagents would be disadvantaged because not every Newsagent had an account with NDD and NANA also shared its concern that NDD were going to terminate NDD accounts under $300 a month and would be without direct supply of ALPHA. NANA told me that NDD intended to terminate 60 accounts in NSW alone.

    NANA then shared that Liza McNally from News Ltd shared NANA’s concerns with NDD and Liza McNally from News Ltd reassured NANA that NDD were confident the terminated account holders would become sub agents and if non NDD account holders wanted ALPHA in their business they would also become sub agents. (This may need to be corrected as I may have misinterpreted this)

    But it does prove that News Ltd was aware about NDD’s limitation to supply direct to many Non Members by choice & Non Members now terminated not by choice!

    My apologies as during the conversation I forgot to ask NANA about the Commission Drop from 50% to 30% which was actually the main issue before it overlapped with NDD, maybe someone could shed some light, sorry.

    I believe what NANA told me next! As difficult it is to comprehend for me; NANA had no more than a handful of NSW correspondence on the ALPHA issue from NANA members or Industry members and were not aware of the Newsagency outrage over the ALPHA debacle.

    NANA members and NSW Newsagents should take a good look at themselves because I believe it and I am as much to blame because I did not let them know either. How can an Association represent Newsagents issues if they are not taking their issues to the people who represent them? Or is it that they don’t see it as an issue at all?

    For NSW NANA members and Industry Members who want to be represented on the ALPHA issue or any other issue please find the contact details beneath.

    Mario Properzi
    Member Services
    Newsagents Association of NSW & ACT
    Tel:- (02) 9744 0400 fax:- (02) 9744 0676
    Mob:- 0412 849 608
    email:- mario@nana.com.au
    Website http://www.nana.com.au (under re-construction)

    During the conversation with NANA I shared with them that many issues and innovations were discussed mainly on the open and transparent Blog http://www.newsagencyblog.com.au/ and the ALPHA issue has been getting a lot of coverage and I asked NANA why do they not participate, contribute on provide representations feedback and update the industry on issues of concern for its members. NANA responded that it would not be appropriate to be able to do this. Essentially what NANA is saying it could be interpreted as biased, political motivated and would be digging itself out of never ending holes etc.

    Hope this helps all to understand from the NSW side how News Ltd, NANA & NDD were involved in the ALPHA betrayal.

    Please note I may of misinterpreted a small amount of information shared to me by NANA, I may not of either. Please correct me if I have in this summary.

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  • 10 Chris // Apr 30, 2009 at 11:43 PM

    Hi Guys,

    Interesting reading. Has anyone given thought to the Accc and there stance on collusion, to the detriment of another business? Its is difficult for associations to instruct its members to kill off a title as this is seen as anti-competitive behaviour, and people can find themselves in strife with the Accc over such behaviour.
    I know that Vana sent out comment on the Alpha issue and veiled its advice to members, for members to make their own decision. It would have been against Accc rules for Vana to instruct its members to kill off the title. It is a complex issue, and one which ignites passion. But there are processes to follow when going down a certain path. Contact your associations, and let them know your thoughts,communication is a two way street.

    Chris
    reservoir

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  • 11 Mark // May 1, 2009 at 7:04 AM

    Chris, There is no breach of the Trade Practices act as far as I can see. I have complained to the ACCC about NDD previously and they said that without a contract there are no terms which NDD is breaching.

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  • 12 Mario // May 1, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    Derek has related a conversation on the matter of ALPHA to this forum which unfortunately is not quite correct.

    My original conversation with Liza McNally stemmed from the notification to all newsagents about the proposed distribution of the magazine by NDD. Liza asked if any newsagents had commented on the matter.

    The rest of the matter, discussed with Derek, was as a result of brainstorming in this office and the identification of problems because of the changes to the distribution through NDD.

    These matters were to be presented at a meeting being held next week.

    Obviously, I didn’t explain myself correctly and it;s come out as if this has already been presented.

    My apologies to Liza and Derek both.

    Derek also asked me why staff at the association doesn’t post on the blogs.

    NANA usually avoids posting on matters until it has met with all parties concerned and can give definitive answers.

    We do ask that you ring us with any perceived problems arising from change notifications so that we can represent them to the Publishers/Distributors on your behalf.

    Mario Properzi
    02 9744 0400

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  • 13 Derek // May 1, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    Mario & Liza McNally please accept my apologies for missinterpreting some of the conversation and causing you both embarrassment that was not warranted, it was not my intention to intentionally provide some incorrect information.

    However I am pleased that you both are aware of some Newsagents views on this matter whole ALPHA NDD matter.

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  • 14 Derek // May 1, 2009 at 12:12 PM

    Mark

    Some Newsagents fear retribution from the big 5 when they post on a open & transparent blog, I would not know if retribution exists, but the fear of it does.

    Their business feed their families and pays their bills.

    I do understand why many do not put their views on posts (for or against) where they can be identified by all parts of the Industry.

    I do hope that they do some of the things suggested in this post.

    Are newsagents writing to NDD to cancel the title and copying the correspondence to News Magazines?

    or

    Are Newsagents writing to industry representatives seeking tough representation.

    The writing is on the wall if we do nothing and one day we wont be able to feed our families or pay the bills because we are taking to many upper cuts in the printed matter part of our business.

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  • 15 sa_paperboy // May 1, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    I would join a well coordinated and mandated action. I’m not interested in ad-hoc internet calls to fight the system.

    This is not the way to organise change.

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  • 16 Luke // May 1, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    Why wait for others to do something, control your own business and act in your own best interest. We are all individual business owners, and if you feel you need to act then do so, it is better then waiting for someone to take the first step before we act. Fow too long we have waited for associations or class actions to start before we respond, look at the bill express fiasco.
    What I have done is closed my NDD account, cancelled my nationwide and fairfax contracts because I did not think their idea of a delivery model was fair to my business. It is one thing whinge but you need to act as well. My business will survive dispite others trying their best to sink me ie unfair terms from a few suppliers.
    It’s a great industry if you are stong enough to stare into the abyss.

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  • 17 Derek // May 1, 2009 at 10:35 PM

    sa_paperboy – you maybe waiting a long time. I would support your appointment as president of the well coordinated and mandated action group as no one has put their hand up for this.

    In the mean time progress and awareness is being made using open & transparant media outlets such as this blog I believe to highlight areas good and bad that happen in our industry.

    It may not be the way to organise change, I am hoping Associations would do this, I really am and what Luke said in his post about making changes in one’s own business. Their will be more Newsagents doing this in the future.

    This is particular issue is about exposing some injustices Newsagents are experiencing and some are demanding change.

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  • 18 Dean // May 14, 2009 at 7:36 PM

    Is it true? Best Bets and Winning Post are going to Fairfax.

    If so, then NDD is almost dead.

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  • 19 Y&G // May 15, 2009 at 7:02 AM

    Forgive my not being with – it (not having heard this until now), but imagine if that was the case.

    I reckon the writing was on the wall with the migration of the puzzles, as well as them having divesting themselves of us small shops. If their bread and butter is the grossness of the big supermarkets, then I hope for their sake there really is honour among thieves.
    On the other hand, it would mean we’d get 2 of our ‘exceptions’ back, if Fairfax offered them back to us. It would mean that we’d made absolutely the right decision to not become subbies.

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  • 20 Wendy // May 15, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Just received an email confirming the move of Winning Post and Best Bets to Fairfax.

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