In the long run, the new alliance that finds the Tribune taking over home delivery of the Sun-Times and ten suburban Sun-Times Media Group titles is supposed to be worth millions of dollars to each company. In the short run, overextended routes, lost drivers, missing sections, and missed deliveries have created consternation in both camps. And at the Tribune, one shrewd business move collided with another – the decision last year to outsource subscriber services to a call center in Manila.

The telephone operators in Tribune Tower are assigned to the security detail, and on October 4 one of them e-mailed her boss, Lieutenant Frank Rocco. “Everyday there’s so many calls that come in regarding the Delivery Guys and there missed papers. Is there a # that can be used for missed papers besides the Philippines office. Because we’re being cursed out each and everyday about this problem. And they can’t speak enough English to handle the call, so they call us right back. And please don’t say ask for a supervisor, they’re also in the Philippines.”

Rocco made inquiries, but there was no such #. The next day he notified his forces by e-mail, “All the operators can do is transfer them back to Manila with distribution problems.”

Calls continue to come in from grousing readers. I placed one of my own and soon found myself chatting with a pleasant young “consumer services representative.” It was two in the morning where he was. “We’re having some problems specifying who got the Tribune and who got the Sun-Times,” he told me. “We’re working things out.”