Aaron Kushner, Re: OC Register's Delivery Disaster: It's the LA Times' Fault

Stuart Kushner: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it: the LA Times are meanies!"
Stuart Kushner: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it: the LA Times are meanies!"

Now, as the rest of the media is covering the Orange County Register delivery debacle that has subscribers delivering their own papers and that has the Los Angeles Times wanting over $3.5 million in unpaid bills, Reg owner Aaron Kushner has owned up to the problem and found the culprit: it's the Times, silly!

Kushner said so as much in an email yesterday sent to all staff and obtained by the Weekly. It's quite remarkable in that Kushner never fully repudiates the Times' claims of missed payments and ballooning debt; instead he only admits to "regular weekly payments and payment term conversations"--doublespeak for "I'm on a payment plan, and the Times is about to call Crusher and Lowblow to collect."

I could go on, but read the note for yourself:

You may have received inquiries and much has been said in the past few days concerning delivery problems that have impacted a small minority of our routes. Our loyal subscribers love our paper and when we don't hold up our end of the bargain, they get very upset about it. Further, with an unusually high number of phone calls, our customer service phone line got overloaded and blocked.

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We'd like to offer some clarity on why this is happening and what we're doing to fix it:

Our move from the LA Times was part of a longstanding, preplanned transition that was scheduled to occur smoothly in January. We had an amicable vendor-client relationship with prior management including regular weekly payments and payment term conversations. New management at Tribune decided that they did not want to have a smooth transition as scheduled. We care deeply about our subscribers so when the LA Times purposefully refused to guarantee uninterrupted delivery of our newspaper in our busiest time of the year, we had no choice but to transition to a new vendor to protect our subscribers and our institution.

The standard for a major delivery transition is at least six months as was originally scheduled. In this case we had less than thirty days. Unfortunately, the LA Times also intentionally refused to cooperate in the transition even though such cooperation would have been simple to provide, cost them nothing and would have minimized and even eliminated the issues we experienced the last few days. Indeed, we are coming to believe that the LA Times has purposefully and maliciously tried to make this transition as damaging to us as possible.

Undaunted by the difficult transition situation, our team has done and is doing everything possible, day and night, with our new vendor to have as little impact on our subscribers as we can. The vast majority of our deliveries are running smoothly and we are getting close to all of our deliveries being back to normal. Unfortunately, we have not yet gotten to 100% correct deliveries for all of our subscribers.

We feel terrible and very sincerely apologize to our customers that have been impacted by the transition of our delivery.

Here's what we are doing to finish making it right over the next few days:

-The Register has doubled Customer Service staffing levels since Saturday to respond to all individual inquiries as quickly as possible. If they haven't already, subscribers should contact our Customer Service team through ocregister.com/go/delivery or email customerservice@ocregister.com. If they have already done so, no further action is needed. Subscribers in the affected neighborhoods will not be charged for the days where there were mistakes with the paper.

-We are doing everything we can with our delivery vendor working around the clock to correct all affected delivery routes, and actively recruiting and training the new carrier force to meet subscribers' expectations as quickly as possible.

-We are developing a network of pickup locations where subscribers can pick up a complimentary copy of the newspaper as an alternative until each route is corrected and running in full force. Subscribers may also visit the Register's offices at 625 N. Grand Ave. in Santa Ana weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As you interact with our customers who ask you about this matter, please make it a habit to express your gratitude for their continued support.

We deeply regret the imposition of the past few days and will continue to work to make it right. We are also proud of the seemingly impossible distance our team has covered in just a matter of days. And we want to personally thank each of you who have gone above and beyond in the service of this great newspaper and community.

-Aaron Kushner, co-owner and Freedom CEO -Eric Spitz, co-owner and Freedom President​

To quote the late, great Artie Lange on Howard Stern:

WAHHHH...

Email: garellano@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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