Just 24 hours after announcing its ground-breaking automatic compensation scheme for late deliveries, Smiths News has enraged NFRN members by advising of an average 2 per cent increase in its carriage charge.

NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said: “Yesterday, NFRN members who are served by Smiths News applauded the news wholesaler for taking the bold step of automatically compensating its retail customers for materially late supplies. Today, those same members are enraged and are accusing Smiths News of giving with one hand and taking with the other.

“This is yet another nail in the coffin for independent retailers who are struggling to pay their bills in such a challenging trading environment.

“Smiths News tries to justify its actions by saying the increase is 93p per week but this means that hard-pressed news retailers are going to have to find nearly £50 a year to pay for a service that can be far from acceptable.

“All we can hope is that the money it recoups will be spent in improving its day to day operations with earlier delivery times and no shortages or recharges.

“In September the NFRN is running a summit to look at the workings of the supply chain and in the light of this latest carriage charge increase this event will now be even more important. We are pleased that Smiths News chief executive Jon Bunting has confirmed his place and we will be taking the opportunity to challenge him over this latest carriage charge increase. It is also crucial that all publishers attend as their intervention is vital to prevent even more retailers exiting the news category.”

Smiths News Carriage Charge Increase – FAQs

How has Smiths News justified the latest increase?

Everyone has increased costs in terms of staff etc which we have to bare ourselves, how can Smiths justify passing this on to retailers?

According to Smiths News, the DSC has increased on average by 2.1% over the past two years and by an average of 92p per week over the same period. All wholesalers are guided by the Fleet Transport Cost Tables in Motor Transport Magazine as their guide when reviewing DSCs. This takes into account a range of cost factors and not just fuel.

Has Smiths News offered any guarantees that this increase will be re-invested to improve the service they offer?

As with all businesses, Smiths News have to cut their cloth accordingly. They recently closed their Pass My Parcel business as well as their coffee machine company Jacks Beans. In addition, they have separated Tuffnells out from the day-to-day newspaper and magazines operation which tells the industry that they are going back to basics and focusing solely on the news and mags element.

What has the NFRN done to protest against this latest increase and what plans are there for further action?

Following on from our protest outside the head office of Smiths News in September 2017, we relaunched our ‘Enough’s Enough’ campaign earlier this year, where over 1,300 members replied to our petition calling for an independent review into the news supply chain.

In addition, Smiths News agreed to meet with us so that in any carriage charge discussions the NFRN can argue the case on behalf of our members before any decision was made rather than afterwards.

Why do I have to pay more for a lower level of service?

Smiths News are re-locating their customer service to India to save money, and cutting back on drivers/packers in depots, so why do I have to pay more for a lower level of service?

The NFRN has been invited to Pune (India) to view and oversee their new contact centre – and Smiths are open to any advice / thoughts we may have.

Poor service levels being reported is a daily occurrence, and we urge you to report these to NFRN Connect, so we can help claim back any compensation / restitution available to you.

In this respect, in 2019 alone we have re-couped over £25,000 of members’ money back through NFRN Connect.

How can Smiths News justify raising the charges for my delivery when they cannot supply me in full and on time every day?

In simple terms they cannot. The human element of the delivery process will mean mistakes are made. The NFRN are at the forefront of industry groups such as the PDRP & the NRG fighting for retailers’ rights and fairness. Again, you should report instances to NFRN Connect so we are aware of them and can take wholesalers to task.

Working with the NFRN, Smiths News has come up with a solution which recognises material service failings and provides for an automatic credit of £5.00 for the inconvenience of receiving newspapers arriving at your store two or more hours after the Required Delivery Time (RDT).

Is there any way that I can reduce this charge?

We cannot answer that question, but we can suggest you contact Smiths News direct to ascertain what is available or possible locally. If successful, please advise NFRN Connect so they can guide any other members down the same route.

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