Saturday, April 30, 2022

Still Life with Robin: One Paper or Two?


by Peggy Robin

Do you still get a physical newspaper delivered to your doorstep in the morning? Does it come wrapped in an orange or gray plastic sleeve? How about a second delivered newspaper? Does it also come wrapped in a plastic sleeve -- blue this time?

I answer "yes" to all four questions. The Washington Post is the one that comes wrapped in orange (thick Sunday paper) or gray (thin weekday version). The New York Times is always sheathed in blue. That is, until recently.

My paper carrier has started doing something environmentally and economically sound. On days when both papers are thin, the carrier has started stuffing them both into a single sleeve, the gray one with the Washington Post printed along the side.

The first time this happened, I went out on my front porch in the morning to pick up both papers but saw only one -- the gray-sleeved Washington Post. I brought it inside and went back outside to scout around for the Times. Maybe it rolled under the porch furniture on a bad toss by the guy in the delivery truck. That's happened before. No, not there. Maybe it's in the bushes? Nope. Could it have landed up on the porch roof?. (That happened only once, about 30 years ago.) 

After checking all the likely and somewhat unlikely possibilities, I went back inside and got online to report the non-delivery. This needs to be done right away, if you want the paper to come within the redelivery time window; otherwise you get no paper and a credit to your account. I filled out the online report for "missing paper," checked the "redeliver" box, and hit "submit" and then went to the kitchen to have my morning coffee and read the Post.

When I removed it from the sleeve -- hey whaddya know! -- there was the New York Times, nicely folded inside the Washington Post. Two newspapers in a single sleeve. Efficient!

Back at the computer, logged in to my New York Times account, home delivery page again, I looked for a "cancel previous request" line or a message box to explain what happened. Found nothing (or if it's there, I didn't see it). But still not wanting to cause a redelivery driver to waste time and paper on me, I called the customer service phone number and waited to speak to a live person.

It took little time to reach a friendly, helpful agent who said she would take care of the problem and cancel the re-delivery order. I felt relieved.

Then, at 9:30am on the dot, I heard a thump from outside on the porch and knew that the New York Times had just hit the deck. The truck was gone by the time I went outside to retrieve the duplicate paper. So much for the cancellation request!

Every little experience has its lessons, and in this case, I've come up with three: 
  1. Never call to complain about a missed paper before checking to see if it's inside the sleeve of the other paper.
  2. Don't count on a follow-up call to reverse an online order. It seems the online system at the NY Times  trumps human communication (or at least it did in this example -- but that's all I have to go on!)
  3. Expect the two-in-one experience to be repeated (it's now happened 4 times!)
Those are my take-aways from this little episode. And now for what I'd like to give back: Here's my tip for the DC distributor of both papers in this area: Want to keep your customers up on your new, plastic-sleeve-conserving ways? Just have a little sticker printed up that says, "NYT & WaPo" and slap it on the outside of the sleeve for all your two-paper customers on days when you're putting both papers inside one wrapper. A small stick-on notification would do the trick and it would be a lot faster and cheaper than delivering two papers in two separate sleeves. 

-Sent with my thanks for deliveries through snow, storm, sleet, street construction, and more!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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