Praise From AZ
The Mar. 15 issue of Back Stage West had so much good writing on important issues: SAG honorees Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Jean Schiffman's Craft column, Tombudsman, and, especially, the article on honoring the best in motion picture casting—all outstanding!
I like reading your articles on theatre in L.A., Seattle, N.Y., Chicago, and I'm wondering if you might have an article on Arizona from time to time? We have excellent theatre in Tucson, Phoenix, Sedona, and Flagstaff; rarely do I read anything about Arizona in BSW (thanks for coverage last year on As You Like It, Arizona Theatre Company/Seattle Rep). I do appreciate your coverage of two of the best Shakespeare Festivals in North America: Cedar City and Ashland.
Back Stage West—I read it, cover to cover. Thank you!
I have not kept records of how many times my delivery of Back Stage West has been delayed, but it must be at least eight different weeks. As you know, getting casting notices a week late does no good. Instead of just saying you're sorry and you're doing the best you can, how about doing something about it? As I write this e-mail Monday, I still have not received my issue from last week! The least you can do is to show a little class and extend my subscription a few weeks at no charge. There ought to be no charge for something that does me no good. That seems fair.
Los Angeles, Calif.
It is Mar. 28 and I have not received my Mar. 22 issue yet. I live in San Francisco. I'm writing because this is not the exception, it is becoming the rule. More often than not (and I do mean more often) I am receiving my issues seven to 10 days past the issue date. This is a problem.
You published a letter in the Mar. 15 issue regarding this same problem. However, your response seemed insensitive to your subscriber base at large. You seem to think that once you mail your issues out on Wednesday night and they are in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service your job is done, with an occasional check here and there. Frankly, this is not good business. You are charging subscribers outside L.A. the same rate as those within L.A., yes? Well, there seems to be a disparity in service, and why shouldn't we get what our counterparts in L.A. are getting for the same price. You need to look at this issue a bit more seriously. Here are just a couple of suggestions:
1. Give subscribers outside the L.A. area the option for first-class delivery at a higher rate, therefore guaranteeing delivery in two to three days.
2. Charge less for subscribers outside the L.A. area (doesn't solve the problem but gives us a better sense of getting what we pay for).
And why do bookstores in my area get issues before subscribers do? Are there business practices here that are motivated by profits?
Please know that I otherwise do enjoy your paper and find it informative. However, having your paper arrive in a timely manner is critical for us outside the L.A. area because we need more planning to make our trips there. This should be a serious concern for your paper and your business and I hope you can address the matter in a timely fashion.
San Francisco, Calif.
Having just read Larry Varanelli's complaint about late delivery of his Back Stage West [BSW, 3/15/01], may I offer a suggestion that might improve his postal "service?" While I live farther away from the "action" than Mr. Varanelli (my 412 miles to his 385), I usually get my Back Stage West in a very acceptable five days (Monday mostly, once in a blue moon on Tuesday). Why his takes a week to 10 days (egads!) is a mystery. But as pointed out in the editor's note, it is most assuredly the U.S. Postal Service's problem, not Back Stage West's.
Mr. Varanelli: Just go to your local post office, request a Consumer Service Card (PS Form 4314-C), fill it out, and return it to the clerk or just drop it in a mailbox (postage is paid). If your post office is as efficient as my Petaluma branch, you should get either a letter or a phone call within few days from a local USPS representative.
My beef concerned late deliveries of TV Guide. Within two weeks my TV Guides were back on track and in my box in a timely manner. (Though I had to repeat the process after about a year when the deliveries got tardy again.) Just keep in mind that you'll never get Back Stage West as quickly as if you lived in L.A., but at least you should be able to shave off a few days and, hopefully, get in under the wire for your next acting assignment.
Break a leg!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please know that I am as frustrated as you subscribers are about this late-service problem. To George: We do offer a first-class rate—for $229 a year. That's pretty prohibitive. With the usual second-class subscription rate, you should—as I stated in my response of Mar. 15—be getting the paper no more than a few days after we mail it. I hope you avail yourself of Bob Canning's suggestion. And no, we don't deliver copies to the newsstands earlier to make more money, but we do use a news distributor who's more reliable, apparently, than your local post office.
To any subscribers who are dissatisfied with delivery: While the post office is the first place to look for problems, I do encourage you to call me if the problem is persistent and egregious, and I will continue to apply pressure on the postal service from my end. Hope this helps.