Barry Collins reveals the remarkable problems PC Pro readers suffer at the hands of couriers – and how to mitigate against them hen I posted a blog on the PC Pro website in February, bemoaning the fact that a courier had decided the safest place to leave my new router was in the recycling bin, I pithily asked whether this was the “worst courier ever”. Judging by the flood of incredible courier nightmare stories that were subsequently posted on the comments section of the blog, the answer is “not even close”. From tales of couriers hurling laptops over garden fences, to packages left to rot in the snow, to delivery drivers not even bothering to knock on the door before poking a “sorry we missed you card” through the letterbox, the PC Pro readership spewed forth with stories of disastrous deliveries. Here, we share some of the worst examples of rank courier incompetence, and offer advice on your rights when couriers literally fail to deliver the goods.
Parcels left in crazy places
Like my binned router, it seems couriers think little of leaving packages in all manner of unsuitable spots.
We hope the number of couriers retraining as midwives is close to zero, judging by the way they handle fragile packages.
“In the middle of winter, a parcel from relatives was left at my back door, in the snow. No note was left regarding this, and I found it two days later, when I actually used the back door and stepped on the package. Which, not surprisingly, was soaked through.” Matt
“I once ordered about £1,000 worth of components from Ebuyer. The security camera outside caught Parcelforce ‘delivering’ it over my neighbour’s 7ft fence and into their rock garden.” Andrew
“I know a crafter who sent an item via the Royal Mail. The postman left the item in the bin and it was emptied before the customer got home. The customer wants the item or a refund, but the Royal Mail won’t pay up because it was delivered, leaving the crafter out of pocket.” James “I’ve had a similar experience, except rather than leaving it in the bin, they’d left it under my car.” N99123 “City Link left an expensive router in my front garden – the courier didn’t post a card through the door, so I realised only when I caught a glimpse of it a few days later. Fortunately, it hadn’t rained, and the light-fingered ruffians on my street hadn’t clocked it.” Russell G
The law is hazy on what constitute s a completed delivery, but consumer watchdog Which? says that you have “good grounds to argue that the retailer shou ld replace and re-deliver your goods” if they’re left outside your home and go missing, or are damaged. However, you’ll find yourself on a slightly sticky wicket if you’ve requested the package be left there. As with all internet-shopping deliveries , your contract is with the retailer, not the courier firm. If you get no joy from the retailer, the Consumer Credit Act affor ds protection for items that cost in excess of £100, so pursu e a refund via your credit card company if the item is suitably expensive. This obviously won’t help you if the dustmen cart off the DVD the courier handily left in the wheelie bin, so take advantage of any delivery instruction boxes on retailer order forms to stipulate that the package shouldn’t be left outsi de the home.
Sorry, you were in! Several readers reported incidents of couriers dropping the “sorry we missed you” card through their letterbox, even though they’d waited in especially for a delivery to turn up. “Twice I’ve caught the Royal Mail guy writing a ‘sorry you were not in’ letter. Twice I’ve called the complaints department. Guess what? I caught him twice more, after which he admitted that it takes too long to deliver to flats so he just writes cards and leaves them at the entrance.” Nik “I was waiting for a courier to attempt re-delivery of a parcel. I’d somehow missed him the previous day, despite waiting in. The courier walked down the drive, shoved a ‘sorry we missed you’ note through the door, and ran back to his van. He must have pre-written the note, and didn’t even bother to carry my package with him. Fortunately, I managed to run after the van and banged on his window before he could get away. His excuse was that he didn’t see anyone through the window, assumed that nobody was home, and decided it wasn’t worth ringing the bell to make sure.” SteveJ
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“Twice on the same delivery Yodel’s website said they’d left a ‘sorry you were out’ card, but we’d been in all day and not received either card. I phoned to complain and the person at the depot gave us the GPS co-ordinates where the ‘delivery attempt’ had been logged. It turned out to be a lay-by on a main road five miles away from our house. If we asked for the parcel to be put out for delivery again, it was likely that we’d get the same result, so the only option was to collect the parcel from the depot, which is an hour’s drive away in Cardiff. So, ‘next-day delivery’ took three days, a 120-mile round trip, three hours off work, and an awful lot of frustration and aggravation.” Simon Jones I live in Pool, Cornwall, but my parcel was delivered to Poole in Dorset, where they couldn’t find my road. When I phoned up and chased where it was, I was advised I could collect it from the local depot in Poole. They didn’t believe that there could be a Pool in Cornwall. The item was eventually returned as un-deliverable and I managed (with some argument) to cancel the order and order from elsewhere.” Michael
“I bought a printer some years back, from a certain Davey Winder. It was sent via Parcelforce, and arrived smashed to bits. He put in a claim for damages and Parcelforce said it would have to send someone round to examine the parcel before it could pay out. I was surprised to get an email from Davey a few days later asking why I hadn’t kept the printer, as Parcelforce had told him they had come to my address to inspect the damage and been told that I didn’t have it anymore. No-one from Parcelforce ever knocked at my door.” Joe “Back when a 21in CRT monitor was expensive, I caught a courier intentionally dropping my shiny new Sony Trinitron. Rather than putting it down carefully, he dropped it from chest height onto my doorstep. I was working in the garden, but I think I’d have heard the monitor stand breaking from inside the house.” SteveJ
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Package is with a stranger Courier firms assume we all live in Coronation Street, where everyone knows your name and will safely look after your parcel until you get home. “I had a brand-new mobile phone sent by T-Mobile via Royal Mail. They left a ‘you were out’ card in the communal area of my block of flats. My neighbour got the card, went to the Royal Mail sorting office and got the parcel, although the name on the parcel and their proof of ID weren’t the same. I had to threaten my neighbours with police and legal action until someone left it in front of my door.” Yiannis “I had an Amazon Prime package ‘delivered’ by DPD last week. Had a confirmation text the night before and selected ‘deliver to neighbour’ since I knew I’d be out and someone would likely be around. Returned home the following evening to find a large Amazon box stood on the doorstep, with no attempt made to hide or obscure it at all. I checked the online tracking and found it had been signed for by ‘A Driver’.” Neil Harper “Some personalised mugs and calendars I ordered for Christmas were left – opened – under the communal stairs of a block of flats half a mile from my house.” Ryan Thomas “I’ve had the Post Office leave both a Kindle (complete with big clue words such as ‘Amazon Kindle’ emblazoned on the box) and an iPod on the doorstep. We’ve also had some DVDs left in this way. Not that we found them on our doorstep, but when a neighbour found the ripped-open package on a nearby field. Fortunately, the little thugs who’d stolen them didn’t share our taste in films.” Dave Faulkner
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A ROYAL MAIL INSIDER ON “SORRY WE MISSED YOU” CARDS At Royal Mail, the “sorry we missed you” cards are known internally as P739 cards. It’s fair to say that complaints surrounding these P739s make up the biggest proportion of complaints that the company receives every year. This is only increasing as the postman’s pouch changes towards a progressively parcel-heavy ratio. More parcels equals more times that customers will not be in, and a P739 has to be left. There has been incredible focus by the company on making sure that the process is followed properly. This involves knocking on the door of the customer, waiting and then knocking again before the P739 is posted. It’s common to knock first, then start writing out the card while waiting for the door to be answered, and then only post it once the second knock has happened and nobody has come to the door. As you can imagine, there are plenty of ways to cut corners if the postman were so inclined. Parcels could be left at the delivery office and cards pre-written
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with no attempt at delivery being made; items that need signing for could be signed by the postman and then posted. These are big no-nos and are sackable offences, coming under fraudulent behaviour and bringing the company into disrepute. The company has never issued a directive to do any of the practices mentioned in this feature. It would be a disaster if they did – we all work in a unionised environment and there would be leaks to the press within hours of such a directive. Not to mention the postal regulator getting rather annoyed and deciding to fine up to 10% of turnover. The absolute best way to put an end to this practice is to complain to customer services – complaints are followed up, although the customer doesn’t get to know this. Our Royal Mail insider’s identity has been withheld.