Washington Post Circulation and Delivery

May 05, 2010

The Post's Gregg Fernandes takes your questions about the paper's circulation area,

Hello, thanks for joining me today.  I've got a 20-year  history in the Post's Circulation department. I've delivered papers, managed teams of other delivery agents, worked with customer service reps and more before becoming VP of Circulation in January.  (And, yes, I was out in the blizzard helping to get your papers to you.)  So I'll do my best to answer your questions about the papers' circulation, deliveries, distribution and more.

Let's get started.

You usedto be able to call for non-delivery, where are the numbers to call??

The number to call is  202-334-6100 or 800-477-4679. These numbers are printed on A2 every day. You can also contact us at washingtonpost.com/subscriberservices.

Every day before I wake my delivery person brings me my newspaper. Thank you!! Having my paper rain or shine makes my day! I wish everyone had such a work ethic!!!!

Thank you for the kind comment. Our agents and their carriers are an amazing group of people who are committed to providing the best delievery possible. Thank you for being a loyal subscriber.

Do you still have paper boys/girls? I'm 34 and I had a paper route for a few years as a kid. My paper is delivered by an adult who speeds through the neighborhood in a car. Have adults with cars displaced kids on bikes?

We do still have some kids delivering papers, but generally in conjunction with their parents.  Bicycles, on the other hand, are a thing of the past because of the weight of the paper and the number of customers on a route. (And if your carrier is really speeding through the neighborhood, you should call customer service and let us know that.)

Are the plastic bags my paper comes in every day recyclable? If not, do yu have plans to change the material? Thanks!

Yes, they are. As a matter of fact, the bags we use are actually 50 percent recycled material.

I pay $4.44 per week for home delivery. I get an invoice by mail every six or eight weeks and then I write a check and mail it back in a Post envelope. Wouldn't both the Post and I save a ton of money if you would offer discounted subscription rates for one, two, and three year subscribers who are willing to pay upfront in order to get both savings and convenience?

We don't have exactly what you describe, but we do have Easy Pay. With Easy Pay, you get a 10 percent discount if you let us put you on auto-renewal on your credit card, and you no longer will get a bill from us. If you want to email me at fernandesgj@washpost.com I can get you started on that. Or any subscriber can sign up for Easy Pay by going to washingtonpost.com/subscriberservices.

I just wanted to comment on your responsiveness to inquiries submitted through the "subscriber services" part of the site.

A couple of months back, I submitted a request twice and never even got a courtesy response. (I missed several papers during the February "snowmageddon" -- which of course was totally understandable and I would never complain about the missed service! -- but I did want to ask about a credit for the nonexistent papers, especially the pricier Sunday one.)

Even if the answer had been "tough luck," I'm still wondering why I never got even that much of a response. As someone who is still paying hundreds of dollars a year to receive an ever-shrinking paper -- and constantly wrestling with whether it's worth it to continue -- I'm disappointed in the diminishing customer service.

You should have at least gotten an auto-response, which makes me wonder if perhaps that got caught in your Spam filter? I'll follow up with our customer service department on this. Our intent is never to ignore our subscribers. Thanks for the feedback.

I live in a rowhouse in the Logan Circle section of DC. About once every two to three weeks my paper is either missing or delivered in unreadable condition (Monday's was soaking wet).

The Post will replace my papers when I call in, but can't possibly do this quickly enough so they reach me before I leave the house on a work day. So I read the paper online -- and usually find a more timely and complete product. At one point I'm likely to conclude that whatever benefits I receive from home delivery are no longer worthwhile. What is your response?

We take our delivery service very seriously and I'm sorry that you're having an issue. What makes the Post such a great value is that it's delivered to your home. If that's not happening on a consistent basis for you, then I'd like a chance to correct it. Email me at  fernandesgj@washpost.com

We live in Great Falls, Va., and have subscribed to the Post for over 30 years. During the past few months it has appeared to us that the Sunday Post simply is not printing current news.

As an example, last Sunday there was no report in our copy of the Times Square attempted bombing. Our Sunday Post reminds me of the Sunday edition called the bulldog edition which was published by a Seattle newspaper on Saturday when I was a delivery boy many years ago.

Is that what is going on with the Sunday Post delivered in Great Falls?

We are always trying to balance the latest news with timely delivery, not sure what the timelines were for the story this last Saturday night, but I will follow up with our News group.

Please, please, please tell me why I have not been able to get a subscription to receive only the Saturday and Sunday editions on the Post.

I read the weekday versions on-line but would love to have both weekend days of the paper. Every time I ask for this, I am told that I can get the Sunday only, but not the Saturday and Sunday only.

When I respond that I am already getting the Sunday Post delievered, the response is usually, "But for only $x more, you can get the rest of the week!"

To me, the cost is not an issue; I do not want the daily papers to stack up only to have to be thrown out at the end of the week. Please tell me if there is a way to add the Saturday Post without adding Monday through Friday.

We currently don't offer a weekend subscription. Our focus is primarily on 7-day and Sunday. However we're continuously looking at new subscription types that will appeal to our subscribers. And if you want to drop me a line at fernandesgj@washpost.com, I'll be happy to see what I can set up for you. 

Hello. Because the Sunday TV Week is now an 'opt-in' option, its inclusion in the Sunday paper has become unreliable.

For example, mine was missing for the past two Sundays. So far I hadn't considered it important enough to register it as a delivery problem ("part of the paper is missing") but if this continues I will complain and ask for it to be made up.

Is the savings from not delivering TV Week to some subscribers really worth it to the Post, balanced against the additional work for the delivery people, and the annoyance to the subscribers who want the TV week but are frequently not receiving them?

Please do call whenever you are unhappy with your delivery service, we need the feedback in order to continuously improve our delivery.  By only providing the book to subscribers that actually want it,  we have been able to reduce our costs and the number of TV books that would just end up in the recycle bin.

I am a long time Post reader who had home delivery when I lived in Ellicott City, only about 10 miles outside of Baltimore. But when I moved into town, I was surprised I couldn't get the Post delivered--but could get home delivery of the NY Times. I'm glad the paper is available at convenience stores, but I don't understand why I can't get it at home. Thanks.

Our primary focus is the greater Washington metro area, and Ellicott City is about our nothern boundary.  We do offer limited delivery in the Baltmore area, so if you send me your specific address, I'll see what I can do. fernandesgj@washpost.com

I have given the Post my credit card number over the phone NUMEROUS times, but I'm still getting bills saying I haven't paid. That, and in my building in Columbia Heights, my Sunday paper is just dropped off in the vestibule and frankly I rarely even get a chance to get it. Someone always steals it. I just feel like I should cancel delivery.

Please don't cancel us. Send me the specifics and I'll see if we can get this fixed for you.

Have you ever considered having a weekend subscription for Friday, Saturday and Sunday? We would love to support the Post but can't read it every day. Alternately we would be willing to make a paypal donation to support the online version. We don't want more cutbacks at the Post!

Thanks for the support. As I mentioned before, we're continuously looking at new subscription types that will appeal to our subscribers.

While being billed on the credit card for 8 weeks at a time is nice, I can't find anywhere on the website that actually shows how much each weekday/Sunday actually costs. (The 8-week price has really been going up the last few years.)

Whenever I try to find out the price of weekday only or Sunday only, the Web site takes me to a TEMPORARY "deal" that I wouldn't be eligible for anyway since I have subscribed almost every day since 1990 (you're welcome).

I used to say that the Post was actually free if you just clipped a few coupons on Sunday, but that sure isn't the case anymore.

Sorry you haven't been able to find the price online. The daily paper for home delivery is 59 cents a day, $1.85 on Sunday. Not only is this a discount off the news stand price, but the Sunday inserts alone contain more than $100 a week in coupons. So it's still a great value.

I'm wondering if you can get home delivery of the paper to me before I leave at 5:30 am for work. I live in Aurora, Illinois, and the Tribune seems to be unable to accomplish the task, so I thought I'd give the Post a try.

I'm sure the Tribune is doing the best it can. Unfortunately, we don't offer a home delivered edition in Illinois. But we have E-replica -- an exact digital replica of the printed newspaper delivered to you each morning online. You can learn more if you're interested at www.washingtonpost.com/subscriberservices

I've mentioned this in the past in Weingarten's chat, but some of us don't do the hardcopy paper anymore. Are there any plans for electronic subscriptions?

I don't have the time for a paper copy and prefer not to consume trees unnecessarily, but regularly visit, read and chat on washingtonpost.com.

In order to ensure that some of my favorite chats and columnists remain, I would be willing to have an electronic subscription to support some of those. For example, rather than cutting columns, the columns could be added to a subscription-only service where they are supported by accounts that are fee-based. You could have surveys in the subscription section about which columns/services are most read and see how many people would be willing to support those columns/topics. Just a thought.

We do have an e-edition (the E-Replica that I just mentioned), plus we're online, on mobile and some electronic readers. Hope one of these works for you.

I also pay $4.44/week, but regularly notice that newsubscribers pay about 1/3 of that. Why do new subscribers get such a deal, while you stiff those of us who have been loyal to the Post for 10+ years with the full bill?

We do offer discounted subscriptions as an enticement to new subscribers, but even our full-rate home delivery customers get a discount off the news stand price. Thank you for being a loyal reader.

Why do I receive the Post Magazine on Saturday and not on Sunday with the rest of my paper?

The Post Magazine comes packaged with your Sunday comics and advertising supplements. Most of these pacakges are delivered on Saturday, which most  subscribers prefer.

We can get TV Week? How?

Yes. Call TV Week opt in hotline at 202-334-9335.

How do I sync up my actual paper subscription with my account online? When I log in, I get an old, dormant subscription from 6 years and 3 addresses ago, not my current status. And when I called the paper to ask, I was transferred through--I kid you not--SEVEN different people, none of whom knew what to do.

Ouch. Sorry for your inconvenience. If you send me your info, I'll be happy to have someone contact you about this. fernandesgj@washpost.com

Great delivery in Rockville. Question: how secure is information concerning non-delivery during vacations; I hate to give start date but don't want to give up Postpoints. Question: carrier requested we contact him/her if there are problems. why? Comment: paying in long periods may be good idea but concerned about how to tip carrier regularly.

Thanks, and good questions. First, your information is very secure. Second, your carrier just wants a chance to correct the problem immediately, but you should feel free to communicate directly to the Post if you prefer. Finally, you're so nice to ask about a tip. I know our carriers appreciate them. Regardless of how or when you pay, you can go www.washingtonpost.com/subscriberservices to tip your carrier.

For the last 9 years I bought a paper at the media box at my College Park metro station (west entrance). For about 6 weeks now, the box is either no longer stocked or is sold out by 7:30 a.m.

All I want to do is buy a paper from The Post! (Interestingly enough, for about a month prior to that, the box was stuffed solid and I am sure way over stocked.)

Thanks for the feedback. I'll have someone check that Metro stop first thing in the morning. Keep buying the paper! :)

Our deliverer includes the TV magazine on Saturday with the "RotoGravure" inserts, but outside the bag. I don't know if that's standard procedure, but it shows the deliverers do a good job. Also, when it snowed, and no papers were sent up to us in Olney, whenever they did arrive, we got the full set (sometimes 4 papers in one day), and never missed getting every paper eventually. The deliverers deserve a lot of credit!

That's awesome to hear. Thank you. Our carriers and agents are incredibly committed.

We've subscribed to the Sunday paper in the past, but periodically (when the subscription expires?) we receive a bill from a distributor - not the WP - that says we owe this individual x amount of money.

I don't understand why we'd pay an independent distributor and not pay the WP directly. I've tried asking about our account several times through subscriber services (and the Ombudsman) and have never gotten a response, so we haven't continued our subscription.

It's a shame because I enjoy the paper, but the payment situation seems fishy.

It's not fishy at all -- that is the way we're set up. We depend on our distributors to help us collect payments. If you don't want to pay your distributor, we can set up other options. Email me (fernandesgj@washpost.com). We would love to have you back.

I don't understand why the Post forces us to have a relationship with our delivery person, instead of having a relationship with the Post itself. When I have an issue with delivery or payment of my Sunday-only subscription, I'm given the delivery person's phone number. (Invariably, that person's voicemail box is full). When I'm asked to pay, I'm told to pay the delivery person. Why do I have to have a relationship with the delivery person, from whom I get terrible service, instead of a relationship with the Post, whose product I am actually purchasing?

Thanks for the comment, and see above for an similar question I just answered.

I was visiting a San Franciscan over the weekend. Some articles and columns in the print edition of the Chronicle are marked "Print Edition Only" or some such. Will the Post start doing that? It's kind of cool and retro.

That is cool. I'll pass this on to our News department.

During the Snowpocalypse there was only one day when the paper wasn't delivered, though there were several where the mail didn't make it. So that day I read the epaper on my Nook. When are you going to add comics, Tom Toles, and the special sections (the local pages, food, real estate) to the Nook/Kindle version? It would certainly save you money if you didn't have to deliver the paper version every day.

The content we provide electronically (online, mobile and more) is always evolving. I'm sure those features will be available eventually, so please stay tuned.

I always check my spam filter. I probably did get the auto-generated "we've received your comment and will get back to you" e-mail, but I definitely never received any substantive answer. And that's my point.

Point taken. I apologize again. Send me an email and I'll take care of it.

You mentioned that Ellicott City was about the northern boundary. Where is the southern boundary? Why was Charlottesville removed from normal delivery and required to pay higher rates for Daily & Sunday delivery?

We have limited delivery as far south as Richmond but the farther we go from the metro area the more expensive it is to deliver, thus the higher subscription price.

Thanks for joining me. I appreciate all of the great questions and comments.

In This Chat
Gregg Fernandes
Gregg Fernandes is The Washington Post's vice president of circulation.
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