Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The newspaper wars: notes from a NYC co-op apartment

Being New Yorkers, Will and I live in an apartment building. Not too large, probably 40 units in total, no doorman. It's a little community, where mostly everybody gets along with one another. And generally residents cooperate and coexist well with the army of people who provide us with the services that make New York City life livable (UPS, FedEx, Fresh Direct, a myriad of food delivery guys on bicycles, dog walkers, nannies, various repair people). And of course the newspaper delivery person.

There's never been an issue with the NY Times delivery person in the six years we have lived in the apartment. And no surprise - what's not to like? The paper comes to peoples' door before they wake up, like magic, it's there!! Unless you're up at 5AM to catch a flight or something, you don't even see the newspaper delivery person.

But then recently, the newspaper magic just suddenly stopped happening.

The papers were instead piled in a big heap by the mailboxes downstairs.

And then nasty notes started to appear downstairs next to the pile of newspapers and the mailboxes:

Wow!! (note my double exclamation mark to match theirs!!) Somebody was really miffed about this having to go fetch their own paper!! Will and I exchanged knowing glances as we left in the morning. (We are digital subscribers, so our paper is "magically" fetching for us.)

After the first sign was posted, there was no response.

Just another pile of papers by the mailboxes the next day.

Another angry note showed up, with similar sentiments and more exclamation marks, this time threatening that the NY Times had been called with a complaint.

But still no response. 

The next day, the papers were again heaped by the mailboxes.

Finally, after the third irate note, we came down the following morning to this note in our lobby:

Touche, Will and I thought. It is rough being a delivery person in NY. Every time you double park and run inside to drop something off, you risk a ticket. If you're delivering an entire neighborhood of newspapers, I would think you would have to pay up on a frequent basis. And I believe those tickets are $85 a pop. Not cheap for anybody, but especially not for a delivery person. UPS and FedEx, etc. absorb the cost of all these tickets for their drivers, but I guess the NY Times does not. 

I had a lot of sympathy for this delivery person.

Things are still at a stand off between the angry subscribers who expect the newspaper at their door when they wake up and the delivery person who is no longer willing to risk a ticket to deliver 10 floors of newspapers to each door... I wonder how this is going to work out?


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  1. i appreciate the NYC unique-ness of this post :) I also think IF has made me not really care so much about all of this smaller stuff. sending you lots of love. I am trying to figure out where in nyc you live :)

  2. Only in New York...which is why I love living here. We've had some similar wars going on in our building when people leave the trash outside at the wrong hours. It's pretty funny.

    Thanks for the story, it made me smile.

  3. Ahhh, I miss NY. Gotta love it.

  4. Haha! I live in Southern California in a small condo complex and we experience the note wars somewhat regularly. Good story!

  5. So funny. ANd I have to say, I'm on the side of the delivery man -- too expensive on their wages to pay for tickets. (That said, we live in a doorman building, so the magic still happens for us. But woe upon the poor doorman who doesn't get papers to doors by 6am. Not pretty.)

  6. I'm on the side of the subscribers. But only because I think the Times should pay for tickets, like the other companies you mentioned. Short of delivering on bike, I'm not sure how you'd avoid a problem like this in NYC. But I totally get being in your robe, wanting nothing but coffee and your paper, but not being able to just grab it from right outside. Who wants to get dressed just to grab your paper? That's kind of lame.

    This made me laugh!

  7. Since I work for a newspaper in the circulation department, I find this hilarious. Paper carriers make a ridiculously small amount of money. Also, if the NYT works like we do, they are considered independent contractors, and are not technically employed by the company, and therefore there's no way NYT would pay their tickets.

    Anonymous, keep in mind that no one expects physical newspapers to be around in 10 years or so, so the business cuts costs in any way they can, above and beyond other companies in this sluggish economy.

    Love this post!

  8. People still have their papers delivered? lol!

  9. There is something about the shenanigan(s) of's very Seinfeld, but in the best possible way.

  10. Great peak into NYC apartment living! Thanks for sharing. Rooting for you as you continue your journey. Heather


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