View Full Version : F & W publications in UK
10-09-2007, 12:17 PM
There's a discussion in the pastel forum about the length of time it takes for Pastel Journal to get to subscribers in UK; nearly eight weeks and still no sign of October issue.
Does anyone in UK who subscribes to The Artists Magazine, Watercolor Magic or Pastel Journal have a problem? Maybe if we make a joint complaint we might get somewhere.
You can pm me or reply here :)
10-24-2007, 02:28 PM
Hi Eagle Owl! I actually work for F+W Publications, and have brought this to the attention of someone from our Circulation department. This is her reply:
Thank you for your post regarding overseas subscription delivery of our fine art publications.
We want you to know that we do investigate each instance of late or non-delivery and constantly strive to improve service to all of our overseas subscribers. However once your issue is in the postal system, we no longer have control over delivery.
If you’ve failed to receive an issue, please visit the Customer Service links on our web sites and let us know. We’ll make sure that your mailing label is complete and accurate. Foreign post offices often require additional information to assure delivery.
And if you’ve missed an issue we’ll always be happy to send you a replacement.
Again, thank you for writing.
I hope this helps!
10-25-2007, 08:12 PM
Nope - that doesn't help at all. As an ex management consultant who used to untangle systems and make things work better, I'd like to comment on what I see as the key issues
This is not a 'beyond our control' issue at all.
F&W makes the choice about the service it uses to get the journals to us and it isn't using an effective service. There is widespread consensus about this in the thread in the Pastel Talk forum where a lot of people have reported late deliveries. (There are also people in the USA who are not getting the journal 'on time')
For example: In the WC thread Anne indicated that the October issue of The Pastel Journal shipped on August 14th. It was supposed to hit the newstands in the USA by September 4th and subscribers are supposed to get it ahead of people buying it from a newsagent.
Mine arrived at my address in London yesterday - on the 24th October some 10 weeks after it was supposed to have shipped!!!
Now about one week of that might have been down to the postal strike we had here (and I know that because of the delays on other mail I received). But nine weeks is still totally unacceptable.
I am not alone - far from it - in having long delays with every single delivery.
Conclusion: You are using the wrong form of delivery arrangement if your aim is (as I expect) to provide a decent service.
Any process improvement requires:
set an agreed standard`of service - a target against which to benchmark actual performance
work out how you are going to achieve it
if there is a cost premium involved in achieving the performance target then work out how sensitive the market is to the premium
if you don't want to lose custom but you do want to improve the service then offer a choice of options
build in some feedback loops which mean that you actually know what delivery times are for most customersEverybody else has to do this sort of thing all the time in business - it's called keeping the customer happy! ;) The benchmarks always become more challenging because technology changes, things speed up and what was acceptable five years ago is no longer acceptable today.
For the record, I'd suggest a reasonable target should be that delivery to the customer in Europe takes no more than two weeks longer than it takes to get to most subscribers in the USA.
I send stuff around the world and have NEVER had the sort of delays I get with the F&W publications. I think you must have chosen the slowest form of delivery that's known to the postal service!
I suggest somebody starts looking at alternative options and starts working on the costings.
And here's a suggestion. Gte your Circulation Department to set up an e-mail address so that all your overseas customers can e-mail the dates that they get their copies. That way you'd get some feedback on the difference between when you THINK we get our copies and when we ACTUALLY actually get our copies. Nobody has ever asked me for feedback before the thread started up in Pastel Talk. I'm afraid what you're hearing here is the accumulation of irritation associated with too many copies turning up far too late - too late to get organised for competitions, to see exhibitions, to book on workshops, painting holidays / courses, etc etc. It's very frustrating.
The good news is if nothing happens I think I may have worked out a way round it. :)
I get one of my friends in the USA who goes to the Post Office on a regular basis to take out a subscription of my behalf at the USA rate. I reminburse her. We work out the best way of getting it to me while balancing the time and money budgets. This might be the same method we use for sending artwork back and too (usually takes 7-10 days). She then mails it on to me as soon as she receives it. I reimburse her for the cost.
That way I'll get my journal about 5 times faster and I might even save money.......... :D :thumbsup:
10-26-2007, 06:19 AM
Thank you, Katherine. You said it much better than I would have and I endorse all of it.
I have to say that Anne Hevener has been concerned and helpful but the circulation department has not contacted me. I usually get a brush off by customer services.
10-26-2007, 04:04 PM
Hi! As I've just posted in the Pastel forum, I'd like to respond here once again on behalf of our Circulation department, who had the following to say:
Publishers generally use a third party international delivery service that is coordinated at the printing plant. The copies are then flown to one of many entry points across the world, go through customs, and then put into the postal stream and the destination country.
We are currently looking into the delivery process utilized by our third party vendor to insure that their processing times and delivery times are within the standard industry range. If we determine that this process is not working properly, and the postal strike in the UK is not the cause of these delivery issues, then we will explore other options for delivery.
It is of utmost concern to us in Circulation that our customers receive their magazines in a reasonable amount of time and that the product arrives in perfect condition.
We are also going to work with a few subscribers who can act as "spotters" for future correspondence directly with us regarding their delivery times so that we can improve the service.
10-27-2007, 08:46 AM
While I obviously appreciate hearing that this is being reviewed, I don't think I will be the only person who finds the above response to still not give me the confidence that this problem relating to deliveries will actually be resolved.
I am not of course referring to Cherie Dawn's efforts to help as she can only repeat what she has been told but rather the nature of the response from the circulation department which I find very generic and unspecific. Plus it fails to acknowledge that people who have commented on this issues so far have not only identified that this is a problem which happens time and time again with every edition which is distributed - and that subscribers in the USA as well as other countries ALSO experience distribution problems with a frequency which suggests the problem is deep-rooted in the practices employed.
In other words, this is not a problem associated with a UK postal strike although that will have exacerbated the situation in a minor way just recently.
I'm very pleased to hear that a review will now be conducted. Here's some very specific questions which hopefully the review will unearth the answers to
The "Industry standard"
what is considered to be the "industry standard" and who defines it - the third party agent, the publisher or an independent party? (5-6 weeks may have been OK 5-6 years ago but I personally don't believe that it the case any longer in this interactive age)
when was the "industry standard" last reviewed?
IMO publishers MUST drive the performance standard for deliveries to customers in order to satisfy customer expectations. It should be reflected in the publisher's specification of the service required from a third party agent. If they can't meet it then the approach to delivery needs to be re-engineered and alternative suppliers may need to be approached
Performance against "industry standard":
Does F&W receive standard performance data on a routine basis from their third party distributors about dates applicable to key stages in the distribution process to overseas destinations so that these can be checked out against customer experience? (I'm thinking maybe this is not the case given the lack of data in the reply from Circulation? This contrasts with Anne Hevener's helpful response in the thread in the Pastel Talk forum re dates for distribution within the USA)
What percentage of times in the last 2 years has the distributor actually met the unspecified "industry standard" for delivery to overseas customers?
Benchmarking performance at different stages in delivery:
What date did the third party agent get the October issue? Was it shipped on the same date that the the journal shipped out to USA customers?
How was it shipped - did it go literally by ship (ie by surface mail)? What date did it leave a USA port?
What date was it actually shipped out from the distributor in the UK? (or was it a distributor somewhere else in Europe who also then redistributed via surface mail?)
Are they using the same distributors in the UK as used to be used by their UK competitors? These distributors used to sometimes deliver my journal AFTER the date it appeared in the shop - which was one of the reasons I stopped my subscription to the UK journals. Within the context of technology available in this day and age, my expectation of service for a magazine subscription is that I have access to an online interactive publication (such as the RA magazine - see below) on the day it ships out and get my paper copy in due course within a reasonable timscale, which for me is about a fortnight for delivery from overseas.
Or I hear from the publisher that this is in the pipeline and will be available by [insert date] as I do appreciate it takes some time to move all publications over to new ways of doing things!
It's not clear from responses to date whether the "industry standard" for delivery and distribution is also under review. I'd really appreciate it if F&W would consider
conducting a review of what SHOULD be the industry standard for delivering a magazine to its subscribers in an online and interactive age?
investigating alternative options for delivering the magazine - including the delivery of the complete magazine as printed online (see below).For example:
The Royal Academy of Arts now makes its complete journal available online cover to cover - FOR FREE - see belowNew interactive format (http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/ra-magazine/autumn-2007/)
Click on the image below to read RA Magazine from cover to cover in our new interactive format. Clip articles to send a friend, search the whole publication and click on the links to visit websites mentioned in the text.
almost all major newspapers now offer a subscription service for an online edition of the newspaper - reproduced exactly as printed which is AVAILABLE ONLINE THE SAME DAY. They reproduce a lot of content online FOR FREE on their website.It seems to me I'm faced with the two options. At the next renewal, I will be seriously considering:
EITHER saving the money spent on all my subscriptions and I'll just read the articles online instead. I'd miss the elements which are not online but since I'm missing rather a lot of the total package anyway it seems a lot of money to pay for what isn't published online
OR If I do decide to continue I think it's very likely that I will switch to an arrangement with a friend so that I have a remote chance of being able to benefit from some of the services and offers advertised in the magazine
UNLESS I get a more precise and positive assurance about the standard of service which will be delivered to overseas customers in the UK in futureI'd also add that people responding to my blog post have also been endorsing what I also had to say about the extremely irritating subscription reminders - again delivered by a third party agent. However I gather that this may be a USA phenonenom? Such entreaties if delivered online could at least be immediately filtered into a folder for review when my calendar tells me I need to review.
Can I just reiterate that I think that the standard of content of the USA publications from both editorial staff and constributors is almost always excellent - but that subscription and distrbution performance by the third party agents employed by the publishers appears to fall well below standards expected in 2007 even when there isn't a postal strike.
10-28-2007, 08:42 AM
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your interest in finding solutions to this common problem. But we need to remember that the WC user agreement states the following: We do not allow using the WetCanvas! boards to work out service or product complaints, but do allow all vendors to ask that any member having complaints get in touch with the company directly rather than using the WetCanvas! boards to resolve the issue(s).
I would like to extend the same courtesy to F&W Publications that we would extend to any of our vendors. Especially since there is already a thread on this topic in another forum.
10-29-2007, 07:26 AM
Cheryl is right. In addition, I have moved this thread to the F+W Partner forum where this discussion should have been taking place.
Further comments about circulation issues should be posted there.
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