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How deliveries became a first-class FARCE: Parcels dropped on doorsteps, no signatures due to social distancing and under-staffed call centres

17 Jun 2020, 13:21

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/new ... FARCE.html

Lockdown is forcing record numbers of households to buy goods online
Couriers are scrambling to keep up as families demand multiple deliveries a day
Social distancing has meant valuable goods are routinely dumped in plain sight
Drivers are also no longer able to ask customers to sign for packages


You could have anything you wished for delivered to your door at the touch of a button - often within 24 hours.

Not in? No sweat. The driver would happily leave your parcel with a friendly neighbour for safekeeping.

But with lockdown forcing record numbers of households to buy goods online, deliveries have become a logistical nightmare.

Many people previously only used online shopping to make one-off purchases of items that were perhaps too heavy to carry, or too far away to collect.

But couriers are now scrambling to keep up as families demand multiple deliveries a day from different retailers.

Meanwhile, social distancing has meant goods are routinely dumped in plain sight if customers are out, leading to a surge in complaints about missing and stolen parcels.

Drivers are also no longer able to ask customers to sign for packages, as they must remain at least two metres away.

Some firms, including Royal Mail, Parcelforce, and Yodel, have given their drivers permission to sign on a customer's behalf.

The companies claim a driver is only allowed to do this if they see the customer take the package.

But customers say this is not always the case. Some have even received notifications claiming they have signed for parcels they have not been given.

Certain firms, such as Hermes, UPS, DHL and Argos, allow their drivers to leave some parcels in a safe place of their choosing, even if customers have not given their permission. Some, including Amazon, are no longer leaving packages with neighbours.

Many delivery companies, such as DPD, say customers who do not want to open the door because they are self-isolating can leave specific instructions on where to leave a parcel.

After their deliveries fail to arrive, shoppers say their frustrations are exacerbated because they are unable to get through to retailers struggling to cope with staff shortages.

One delivery company, Yodel, has done little to help the situation, by temporarily closing its helpline and only offering customer service through its webchat system.

Internet sales were up by nearly a third last month compared to the same period last year, according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

Anecdotally, delivery drivers and retailers say they are dealing with order numbers close to what they usually see at Christmas.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that complaints about deliveries rocketed by 159 per cent to 11,209 in May, compared to 4,334 in February.

Complaints site Resolver says two thirds of the gripes were about packages not turning up — sometimes for months.

Its consumer rights expert Martyn James says allegations that parcels have been stolen have also soared during lockdown.

Most delivery firms say drivers would not leave a parcel outside the property without a customer's permission. Yet that's exactly what happened to Red Cross worker Stuart Hardie last month.

He had ordered a £129 light from Wayfair, which DHL said it would deliver on May 28.

Stuart received a text that morning to say it would arrive at his home in Kelso, in the Scottish Borders, between 11am and 1pm.

But when he and his wife Diane, 51, a care home manager, returned from their morning walk at 10am, they discovered the parcel outside their home, in full view of a public footpath.

A delivery card had been posted through their letterbox which confirmed it was 'next to the bins'. Stuart, 45, says: 'I appreciate drivers are under a lot of pressure, but anybody could have stolen the parcel.'

It turns out that DHL lets retailers opt into its 'leave safe' service, which allows drivers to put items in a 'safe space' if a customer is out.

A DHL spokesman says: 'We apologise to Mr Hardie that the parcel arrived before the planned time and wasn't concealed to his satisfaction.'

Make-up designer Holly Edwards was similarly baffled when she was woken up just after midnight by a text message from Hermes claiming her parcel had been delivered and signed for.

The 35-year-old from Essex had ordered two dresses from Zara, costing £51.96, just over a week earlier. When Holly couldn't find the parcel the next morning, she tried to reach both Zara and Hermes to complain.

But it was another nine days before the dresses were finally delivered. Holly was out at the time, and returned home to find the parcel in her garden alongside a message saying it had been signed for.

Holly says: 'It just feels like the courier didn't look after my parcel at all, and it's really unimpressive. I don't know how they could say I had signed for something at 12.30am when I was asleep.'

A Hermes spokesman says it would be contacting Holly to offer her a goodwill payment, adding: 'We apologise to Ms Edwards for the delay of her parcel which has now been delivered in line with our contactless Covid procedures.'

Some consumers have also failed to be notified when items they have ordered are not in stock.

Grandmother Beryl Condra expected £80 worth of fence paint to arrive on April 28, four days after she placed her order with B&Q.

The money was taken from her account immediately, and the day before her delivery was due she received a text from the DIY chain to confirm her order was on its way.

Certain firms, such as DHL and Argos, let their drivers leave some parcels in a safe place of their choosing, even if customers have not given their permission

But after waiting at her Newcastle home all day, she filled in B&Q's online customer service form to ask what had happened to her paint. Beryl, a retired business consultant, sent at least four messages this way.

But each time the 66-year-old only received an automated response, which said B&Q was dealing with 'unprecedented demand'.

After doing some research online, Beryl found B&Q's Facebook page and a number for its head office.

But when she phoned she was left on hold before being cut off, and nobody from the firm responded to a post she wrote on its Facebook page, either.

She eventually bought paint from another store and asked B&Q for a refund. It's understood the first delivery was cancelled due to a lack of stock.

Beryl says: 'I think they are using Covid-19 as an excuse to do very little for their customers.

'I don't understand why someone couldn't just contact me to say what had happened to my order — if it wasn't in stock the company shouldn't have taken my money as soon as I ordered.'

After Money Mail contacted B&Q it refunded Beryl and gave her a £50 gift card as a gesture of goodwill.

Vicky Simmons has faced huge delays when sending out customer orders during lockdown.

The businesswoman, who runs Mean Mail, a London-based greeting cards company, did use a warehouse to ship her cards, but, since it closed, has instead arranged delivery herself through Royal Mail.

'About 30 per cent of orders had delays of a week or more,' says Vicky. 'Tricky when cards are for a special occasion.'

At one point, she says, it was taking up to two weeks for first-class mail to arrive at London addresses.

An order for Canada just before lockdown took 33 days to arrive, rather than a week.

But Vicky, 35, believes Royal Mail has done a fantastic job in the face of coronavirus.

She adds: 'I put a Covid update on the website and asked customers to be more understanding.'

Royal Mail says: 'We have been working hard to deliver the most comprehensive service we can in this period.'

A B&Q spokesman says: 'We're pleased to have resolved this for Ms Condra, who has accepted a full refund and a gesture of goodwill.'

Michael Tobin, meanwhile, has been waiting for a pair of hair clippers he ordered from Argos on April 2.

Michael, 72, who lives with wife Liz in Middlesex, was given two separate delivery dates for the order, which cost £26.94, but nothing arrived.

Each time he tried to call the customer service department he was left on hold for 40 minutes before the connection cut out.

Eventually staff at an Argos counter in a Sainsbury's in Chiswick, West London, told him his order had been cancelled, most likely because the clippers were not in stock.

Michael says: 'I'm disgusted by the lack of customer service. It has been atrocious.'

After Money Mail contacted Argos it arranged for Michael's refund to be processed within five days.


While non-essential stores have begun to reopen, many experts predict that customers will continue to shop online, perhaps because they are vulnerable or find it more convenient.

Michael Fotis, of consumer site Smart Money People, says unattended parcels - particularly those that require a signature so are likely to be valuable - are a commonly reported issue.

He adds: 'When a company is delivering a purchase, you expect it to reach you on time and safely, without getting damaged or lost.

'They must make sure they are meeting these minimum standards and invest more in customer service to help people when something goes wrong.'

A British Retail Consortium spokesman says: 'Retailers continue to do their best to meet the needs of their consumers despite the pressures of coronavirus.'

Kevin Green, of the Freight Transport Association, says: 'After traditional retail closed as a result of the Covid-19 panic, many home delivery companies saw a rise in demand of more than 200 per cent.

'The majority of van fleet operators take customer service very seriously and have invested in systems that aid package tracking and deliveries.'

A high-flying director who lost his job due to the coronavirus now delivers 100 packages a day as a courier at 90p a pop.

David Ghiglieri, 58, now works 11 hours a day, six days a week, delivering parcels for Yodel in his MG Saloon.

The father-of-three says he often didn't finish work until 11pm when he started and admits he doesn't get paid 'a massive amount'.

But he is urging others not to 'look down' on delivery drivers who 'toil' away to keep the country going.

David, from Bromsgrove, Worcester-shire, says he took the job seven weeks ago after he lost his £60,000-a-year role as a payment consultant because he refused to just 'sit on his bum'.

He adds: 'Every single customer has been so positive, even offering me a bottle of water or a biscuit. They appreciate the effort. It's a difficult job, but you just get on with it.

'I'd rather be doing this and earning than sitting at home watching daytime TV.'

Yodel says it is continuing to provide flexible earning opportunities and currently has more than 200 roles available.

How deliveries became a first-class FARCE: Parcels dropped on doorsteps, no signatures due to social distancing and under-staffed call centres

17 Jun 2020, 21:39

What did they expect. You either deliver the parcels first time or you don’t get paid. Welcome to the gig economy

How deliveries became a first-class FARCE: Parcels dropped on doorsteps, no signatures due to social distancing and under-staffed call centres

18 Jun 2020, 00:05

Many of these "irate" customers are using the system to make false denial of receipt claims. Some of them have such wonderful relationships with their partners that they don't even bother asking them whether they actually received the parcel or P739 card before making a complaint. Some of them leave notes telling you to leave it in x, y and z just to deny it afterwards.

The bottom line is do it by the book because you can't trust any of them.

How deliveries became a first-class FARCE: Parcels dropped on doorsteps, no signatures due to social distancing and under-staffed call centres

18 Jun 2020, 11:55

Woody Guthrie wrote:Many of these "irate" customers are using the system to make false denial of receipt claims. Some of them have such wonderful relationships with their partners that they don't even bother asking them whether they actually received the parcel or P739 card before making a complaint. Some of them leave notes telling you to leave it in x, y and z just to deny it afterwards.

The bottom line is do it by the book because you can't trust any of them.


Thats why i take a pic of the handwritten note next to the doornumber on the pda (where possible)

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