Today I would like to publicly applaud those independent contractors that get little praise for their efforts to deliver the Daily Mountain Eagle at a time when escalating gas prices take a toll on their wallets and poor road conditions wreak havoc on their vehicles.
Over the years these contractors have also been burdened with the chore of billing our customers, a process we in the newspaper business call carrier collect. But that’s about to change.
Effective July 1, 2012, the Daily Mountain Eagle will convert to 100 percent Paid In Advance, or PIA. In other words, our circulation department will send statements to all subscribers, whether you pay monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.
We will then credit the carriers at the same rates they currently receive when they invoice directly. It’s a win-win-win scenario for the Daily Mountain Eagle, the independent contractors and, most importantly, our subscribers.
It’s all about customer service.
So, you may ask, “Just how is the conversion process going to work?” Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch.
First, I notified the independent contractors earlier this month, and asked them to prepare a comprehensive list of all current customers. We are in the process of updating our circulation system.
Second, I have asked that carriers not collect more than 30 days of delivery service monthly through June. Therefore, if you receive a bill from your carrier, then you should receive your last carrier bill at the beginning of July (for delivery service rendered in June).
Third, I will contact each carrier collect subscriber via letter during the first week of May, explaining the conversion process. Currently, about 65 percent of our home delivery customers are carrier collect.
For those of you that may be paying monthly, you will likely receive two invoices in June or July. Why? If you are currently paying your carrier for services rendered during the previous 30 days, then you will also receive an invoice in the mail from the Daily Mountain Eagle for the upcoming 30 days.
Once converted, all customers that subscribe longer than a month at a time will receive a reminder notice 30 days from their respective expiration date. You will then receive a final bill as the expiration date nears. Any subscriber that does not pay within 14 days (grace period) following the expiration date will unfortunately be stopped.
Along the way, the Daily Mountain Eagle will offer special savings for home delivery subscriptions. Just watch our paper daily for upcoming circulation promotions. For example, through the month of May we are offering to NEW SUBSCRIBERS ONLY four months for the price of three. That’s a savings of $10.25, or 25 percent!
In addition, we will offer a monthly discounted rate of $9.75 for carrier delivered EZ-Pay customers – those that sign up for automatic drafts from a major credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover). Just call our circulation department today at 205-221-2884 for all the details.
In the meantime, I ask for your patience and understanding as we convert our circulation billing system to solely Paid In Advance. In the end, this will enable to the Daily Mountain Eagle to better service its loyal customers.
Jack McNeely is Publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be reached by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.