The owner of a third-party distribution company that delivered the Northwest Herald has come into question after carriers reported bouncing paychecks and missing tips.
California-based company ACI Last Mile Network terminated its contract with a McHenry County-area distributor several weeks ago, ACI President and Chief Operating Officer Jack Klunder said.
Klunder did not provide the name of the local distributor, who he said was not an ACI employee.
In addition to Shaw Media, ACI has contracts with the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle and Tribune Publishing newspapers, according to its website.
Both Shaw Media and ACI are looking into the situation, Shaw Media Chief Operating Officer Don Bricker said.
“We take this situation very seriously. Our team is working closely with our delivery vendor to determine what happened and the amount of the money in question,” Bricker said Friday. “We are confident the delivery company is committed to making sure this will never happen again and that all carriers get the tips their customers intend they receive.”
Concerns about the newspaper carriers’ paychecks arose at least two weeks ago, Klunder said.
Klunder learned that several carriers in the Northwest Herald’s market were provided paychecks that later bounced, he said.
In turn, ACI severed its ties with the local distributor and contracted a new company in its place, Klunder said.
All appeared to be back on track when Klunder received word this week that some carriers hadn’t received their subscriber-paid tips under the previous distributor.
Northwest Herald subscribers are billed by Shaw Media and have the option to include a tip for their newspaper carrier. Shaw Media then sends that money to ACI, which allocates the tips back to the local distributor for inclusion in carriers’ paychecks, Klunder said.
The previous distributor was under contract with ACI for about four years and contracted for about 20 individual carriers of his own, Klunder said. It was not immediately clear how long the carriers’ tips might have been withheld or how many people could be affected.
As of Friday, ACI was conducting an internal investigation and considering possible legal action, Klunder said.
Representatives from the Crystal Lake Police Department could not immediately be reached to confirm whether any police reports or complaints had been filed in connection with the allegations.