We have been working with News Ltd to get this subscription problem worked out so all the newsagent computer systems will improve the data transfer from the newsagents’ computer to News Ltd.
The problem is that people take a subscription for a newspaper for a period. News Ltd would like to contact them just before the end of the subscription to ask them to renew if they have not done so already.
However it is not so simple in the real world to get that end date. Say during part of the period, the newsagents’ client takes a few weeks off. Sometimes they don’t tell the newsagent when they are restarting so the newsagent has no clue when the subscription should end. Sometime what is stated as a temporary stop lasts forever.
Alternatively the newsagents’ computer knows but not the News Ltd computers.
Often it gets complex when the client has a few subscriptions with News Ltd.
The result is the newsagent’s computer is full of accounts that have long since stopped. However the News Ltd computers sees these as current subscribers. So News Ltd don't market to them.
While the newsagents get reports from News Ltd that are misleading. I remember in one newsagency, we spent a day going over every subscription with the newsagent. When we finished late in the night (I mean late) the problem was clear for all to see.
We think the best solution is that we give up on dates and use the number of papers. If the person takes out a year subscription then it is not a year but 365 papers. However this solution will not happen soon with News Ltd.
Now everyone agrees that it is unsatisfactory. I am sure it is costing both News Ltd and our client's newsagent money. But it is not an easy problem to solve. So it is taking time to work out. I can assure you that it is not for lack of effort by anyone measured by kilometres, emails, telephone calls and discussions.
I know we are getting closer but it is frustrating to all. I just hope that we work it out soon. As I would like to announce at the newsagency conference in Surfers Paradise that we finally have at least a solution to most of this problem. I am sure News Ltd would too.
Then we can move to the next item on the list that is to match up the newsagents' name and addresses to what is in the News Ltd computer.