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Has a delivery company failed to deliver to you?

If you’re Christmas shopping online, make sure you trust the retailer’s choice of delivery company, says our chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith

When I wrote about a disastrous home delivery in Which? magazine in 2014, I sang DPD’s praises.

I questioned why shops couldn’t take a leaf out of DPD’s book by making one-hour delivery slots the norm. This would save us all the headache of waiting around for parcels that fail to turn up.

Three years on, and an online survey of the general public we’ve just published shows that some delivery companies are doing exceptionally well on customer satisfaction. They are beating both DPD (a surprise) and Yodel (not a surprise – for me, anyway).

Perfect delivery? Not this time

I recently bought an item on Ebay, selecting 72-hour delivery, and the seller dispatched it using Yodel (their choice, not mine). It arrived at the Newton Abbot depot in Devon on 26 September, but then, nothing.

When the parcel failed to turn up within the stated 72 hours, I started to investigate.

It turned out that there had been a chemical spill on the road outside the depot, which I can see would cause a delay. But for how long? I couldn’t find out, because it was incredibly difficult to get hold of anyone at Yodel.

Its tracking service said the parcel was at the depot. Its web chat was constantly busy, and when I did manage to get through I was just told that the parcel was delayed, and that Yodel would prioritise delivery (which it apparently didn’t).

I couldn’t find a complaints number or email address. When I called customer services, I just got the same recorded message about the parcel being in the depot.

A tip here: say no to every option, and then say that your query is how to make a complaint. This means you do eventually get through to a human being – not that they can sort the problem for you, though, as I found.

Helpless and exasperated customers

I was certain that I wasn’t alone in this feeling of helplessness, and when I looked at various online chatrooms, I found plenty of similarly exasperated customers.

Eventually, the parcel did arrive… more than two weeks late. Come on, Yodel, sort your act out.

If there is a silver lining, it’s that it was delivered properly – and not wedged in a cat flap, left in a neighbour’s greenhouse, dumped in a recycling bin or abandoned on the doorstep (all examples of your own disastrous deliveries).

Which delivery companies are best?

If you’re doing your Christmas shopping online this year, use our advice on which delivery companies are best and know what to do about delivery problems if the worst does happen.

Have you had any bad (or good) experiences of Yodel? Or are there other delivery companies that you would rate – or slate?


I get very few problems with delivery companies most drivers know what to do with my parcels if I am not in as I see them trying o deliver to other houses and always offer to take the parcel so most do their best to help me when I am not in If any of my parcels fail to arrive it usually those sent by Royal Mail (not Parcel Force )that never arrive at all or arrive a lot later than the should have done They just seem to disappear

When buying anything online, we now specify the sender doesn’t use Yodel; it’s a deal breaker for us. Yodel’s problems stem from utterly inept management who treat their employees and customers like mushrooms (keep them in the dark, feed them…). It can be an education, as we once did, visiting a Yodel depot to pick up a parcel. The sheer level of incompetence has to be seen to be believed. I suspect there’s also a culture of being economic with the truth in the company, such was the experience we have had in the past.

DPD reign supreme for us, consistently accurate with timing, but there’s little doubt others have caught onto their success with Hermes now ploughing a similar furrow.

In our area, Hermes delivers to a local courier who delivers to us in his own car. I don’t know if credit card companies use Hermes, but most of our replacement cards come via the same courier who we have had for several years now, brilliant service.

Touch wood, we have never had a problem with Yodel.

In our experience, DPD outperforms the rest and UPS comes a close second for service quality but does not have the real-time tracking. I was surprised that DPD didn’t score higher when so many carriers, including Amazon Logistics, are abysmal.

People really should be speaking to the consignor – the seller of the goods – rather than trying to sort out the delivery company. If things don’t arrive the seller should be told and requested to investigate or re-despatch. Once the sellers start to get too many calls about certain carriers they might change their contracts; if they are never told about delivery problems nothing will change for the better.

Hermes have improved their system in terms of consignee contact and tracking. Although at first their local delivery network seemed a bit haphazard and cowboy-like – throwing things over the side gate, putting them in the recycling bin – it has settled down now with a reliable middle-aged couple who have got to know people’s comings and goings and are prepared to deliver in the evenings when people are in. They are also good at handling telephone requests for specific-day drops if there was no one in on the first attempt. I suspect the Hermes subbing process was originally intended as a low-cost operation for smaller consignors, and it probably pays the local deliverers a pittance, but in terms of customer service it is now an acceptable model. Unlike Yodel.

We’ve seen some of these tiny, one-person delivery companies, but around here we all know each other, by and large, so it can work rather well. One year with heavy snow, I remember a local farmer friend of ours popping down to the depot in his tractor, collecting everyone’s parcels, and then bringing them back up to his farm, from where allof us with 4 x 4s collected them, and distributed them to those without all-wheel drive and big tyres . Quite a fun time, in fact, and lots of hot chocolate…

My deal breaker is Hermes as they pretend they have tried to deliver despite the fact that you wait in all day for them and even leave a message outside by your bell to say you are in!!! They did this twice and stated they could get no access. . .i need to fit a cctv camera to show that these delivery drivers are lying about coming to the property. Apparently they are on strict deadlines and miss out a few properties to save time! I Dont see the point myself as we keep ringing the company to say where is my package!!!!!

We get a lot of deliveries but all the companies have given us issues.
Royal Mail have a policy of taking parcels they can’t deliver to the local post office. So I end up getting it myself, even though I have paid for delivery to my house.
I have watched “not at home” cards been pushed through my letter box. I ran out to the driver and made him get the parcel from my neighbour to deliver it me.
Another rang the door bell again after the delivery to ask if I had a problem with Brazilians. Apparently I had not been polite enough when I took the parcel.
Another courier knocked on my door, despite the door bell working.Thankfully I saw her and asked why she hadn’t rung the doorbell, to which she replied some people don’t like it or have sleeping children. Daft.
The other day the doorbell rang and my wife answered it immediately (5-10 seconds) only to watch the driver walking off already.
I am currently waiting for a delivery due 3 days ago. Tracking shows it as “held – large item”, but I can’t find out more as the tracking number is not valid on the stated couriers site. So I have emailed the seller on eBay.

It is not possible to tell the seller which courier they must use, so my only option is not to buy from some sellers. However as you can see above the couriers are all bad, just some are worse.

Since it is generally not possible to be sure when Royal Mail will deliver something ordered on-line we miss the occasional delivery. However, they always leave a card so I go on-line and book a re-delivery at a convenient date. This service works very well and involves no expense or inconvenience. The only drawback with the RM service is that they have no idea who a parcel or package is from so when multiple items are in transit it is a guessing game which one is due for re-delivery.

Alan Newcombe says:
25 November 2017

Today I received an email from Yodel, timed at 12.36, stating that my parcel from ‘Winit’ had been left in a safe place and a card delivered to my address. a)This was the first communication I had had from Yodel relating to this delivery. b)No card had been delivered. c)No parcel to be found. d)I haven’t ordered anything from ‘Winit’. e)I have been at home all day and no body has been to my door. I tried to contact Yodel, but they close down at 1pm on Saturday, I found another number which was 24hr, but they required parcel and tracking numbers, which I obviously do not have, so I tried ‘webchat’, which the web site said was available, when I selected it they decided it was not available, took my name and email address, and just said ‘Thank You’, no indication if or when they would contact me. None of this surprises me as it’s Yodel, when I see the name I wonder what will go wrong this time! ( I gather from the internet that ‘Winit’ is something to do with Ebay/tracking) DPD are the best.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Believe it or not, “Yodel” stands for YOur DELivery.

Oh; I thought it was for Your Parcel Delayed… 🙂

Nathalie says:
25 November 2017

Hermes is the worst service I’d come across with. They failed delivering many parcels (ordered from various brands) to our office in Central London, and then would send us texts saying it’d been delivered. When we all separately complained to the brands which we ordered about the missing parcels, the brands seemed to have headaches tracking the error from Hermes, and ended up losing money to compensate us. For example, TK Maxx customer service complained to Hermes about my missing parcel, they responded to TK Maxx that they cannot track the driver. TK Maxx then refunded me and suggested me to use Click & Collect in store in the future. DPD, DHL, Royal Mail, Yodel and independent couriers all seem great!

The economics and logistics of parcel carrying suggest to me that there will be considerable consolidation in the next year or two with only the best carriers surviving. A number of factors lead me to that view – the impact of the minimum wage and the living wage expectations, enforced restrictions on drivers’ hours, court rulings on personnel conditions of service and contractual requirements, the decline of retail during the ongoing recession, and – of course – Brexit which affects everything from the availability of labour to the value of commerce. Increasingly expensive delivery fails will be the final nail in the coffin for some firms. The availability of many household goods from supermarkets for delivery with the groceries also changes the picture.

Many other factors as well You area ,the people working at each depot the people delivering Some are better in one area than another You don’t tar everyone with the same brush just because of one rotten apple (two old sayings mixed together )

If you have a problem with a missing or late delivery, NEVER call the courier, ALWAYS call the vendor.

The contract for delivery is between the courier and the vendor, not with you.

The contract for supply of goods is between the customer and the vendor. If there is a problem, call the vendor. The vendor needs to be made aware of any delivery problems.

Thank you for making that so clear, Ian. If only sellers would do so but they are happy to leave customers chasing the carriers who, rightly, are not answerable to the consignees.

And sometimes the less reputable vendors will actually tell customers to contact the delivery company.

Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 came into force on 13 June 2014 and requires the vendor to have an inclusive or geographic-rate 01, 02 or 03 number or a free-to-caller 080 number for after-sales enquiries and issues such as this.

Many of the courier companies offer premium rate 084 or 087 numbers for contact. They can do this because their customer is the business that hired them to deliver the parcel. The Consumer Contracts Regulations do not cover B2B contracts.

If there is a problem with delivery of a parcel, call the vendor not the courier. Do not allow the vendor to fob you off by telling you to call the courier. The courier has been hired by the vendor and it is the vendor’s job to arrange delivery of goods and sort out any issues arising.

Having said that, FedEx, some parts of Royal Mail, and UPS do now have 03 numbers in place of their old 084 or 087 numbers. Other couriers do not.

paul says:
8 December 2017

I’ve just had a parcel that was sent via yodel. On the first day, they claimed they couldn’t find the street. On the second day, they found our house, we know this as they threw a card into the front garden but didn’t bother to actually come to the door and knock. Which would surely have been easier as we have a dedicated parcel cabinet! That is such a horrible thing to do to just throw a card into the garden and not even knock. Only noticed the card the next day when I was gardening and saw the sodden card in the bush next to the gate.

I would be inclined to report this to the company from whom you ordered the goods and recommend they change their carrier otherwise you will not buy from them again.

The ASA are currently looking into claims that Amazon Prime is failing to meet its next-day delivery promise. With only a few days to Christmas I have no doubt that there are many people relying on this service to get their gifts before the big day (this includes me): https://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/12/amazon-prime-delivery-claims-spark-complaints/

I noticed on listings next-day delivery was actually 2 days.

Amazon does default to two days nearer Christmas. But they don’t claim Next Day for all members of Prime: they actually say “Prime members with a residential address in select areas receive unlimited Same-Day Delivery on a million items across Greater London, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, Nottingham and more. Not quite a universal promise of next day delivery.

You are correct, Ian. Apologies if I made it seem that it was available to everyone. There has been a number of incidents where people have been promised delivery sooner than it was received. Have you had any experiences like this?

We have had many Amazon deliveries sooner than was promised which was just as much of a problem as late deliveries. I did have a short free trial of Prime but did not consider it was worth paying to continue as we don’t order much from Amazon.

We enjoy click-&-collect from actual shops even it means going thirty miles to Norwich and back. The scenery is super, there are good places to stop on the way out and back, and other shopping opportunities are available.

We do a great deal of shopping via Amazon and have to say that their Customer service is second to none. Generally, things arrive exactly on time and DPD – the local deliverer of all things Amazon – know us well, so will either leave things in a known location or email us to let us know where the item is.

Ellie’s write-up is also incorrect as she states >Amazon Prime boasts unlimited one-day delivery on millions of items but it doesn’t, instead choosing its words carefully to state “a million items”.

Amazon, whatever its detractors say, has introduced confidence into the online buying experience, and that’s a valuable commodity.

The critical wording is that delivery is promised “one business day after dispatch”, not the next day after placing the order. I wonder how many of the complaints have been because of a misunderstanding over the dispatch date and what day is a business day.

I am not an Amazon Prime subscriber but I have noticed that Amazon do describe their dispatch and delivery details very well on a page on their website; I suspect some customers have never opened that page. It seemed to me that Amazon were going the extra mile this year to ensure that, wherever practically possible, all orders for Christmas would be delivered in time. It is unreasonable of customers to take too much advantage of the service at peak times in my opinion.

Christmas presents are so important they should not be left to the hazard of a delivery system; it is the one thing that people must get right without qualification and without excuses – after all, it’s not difficult to plan for Christmas. Even I could see it coming . . .

I have not had any delivery problems recently, though Royal Mail did manage to add a week or two to the delivery of my car insurance documents in the summer. Though I still have a high regard for RM, I know longer live a short drive away from their depot. My strategy is now to have an ordering session when I know I am going to be at home for a few days. This generally saves problems with redelivery. Click & collect seems to work well too.

I organised a Click and collect and chose the nnewsagents next to M&S so I could cpllect when I was doing the food shop. Details were sent to my mobile. All very convenient, and as it was a Christmas present for mrs r, it saved the possibility of her beating me to the door when the delivery man knocketh. It also saves having to wait in for the delivery to arrive.

We’ve had very good service from Amazon, and have used Prime for over two years. Often items come sooner than promised, when ordered via the Marketplace, where Prime doesn’t apply.
I agree that DPD is the preferred home delivery people, and, though I often hate apps, theirs is excellent. The only snag it their drivers cannot “beat” the time slot even if they’re early, which seems a bit bizarre.

Leo says:
3 March 2018

I get a lot of deliveries as I run a business from home and probably get about a dozen parcels delivered a week from a range of different couriers. The worst is almost certainly Parcel Force who have left missed delivery cards with no information on them, lost parcels completely, left parcels at a Post Office four miles away when there’s one 50m from my house, and failed to respond to redelivery requests on multiple occassions. Coming a close second are UPS and DHL who seem to make it unnecessarily difficult to request a parcel is left with a neighbour or in a safe place. My favourites are DPD as you can track the driver in real time and their drivers appear to have a certain amount of commonsense and will be pro-active about leaving parcels with neighbours or in the usual safe place.

I have recently ordered from eBay and the seller used Hermes delivery service. I got a message saying the package would be delivered 3 days later. I waited in, good sounding bell and a postbox. No delivery driver arrived, then when I looked on eBay a few days later, Hermes had put on the tracking number that it had tried to deliver my package at 11.17am that wed morning despite me being in waiting!!! So I telephoned eBay and they assured me it would be delivered, according to Hermes the following Tuesday. I waited in all days again, even left a message outside the main door of the flats to say if I don’t answer my bell, please telephone this mobile no. . .nil all day! then I telephoned ebay again and they said that the delivery driver had tried to gain access to no avail at 12.04pm that Tuesday, despite the fact there was a message on my bell to say ring it or ring my tel no!! And I was inside waiting?!!! I went out to check and the message paper was still there and had not been touched! I rang eBay up again to say that no delivery driver had arrived on my road as my message was still there and had not been touched, despite the fact that they had registered for the 2 occasions that NO ACCESS was achieved???? I have since found out that a lot of the drivers are on a timescale and they pretend they have been to your property and had not gained access. Well this was not true, so the fact that no card was put through my door and no bell was rang and no message was looked at or moved, tells me that they never even entered my road. What we need them to do is to prove they have actually gone on to the property by a pic or a video and this will dispel the rumours that they are short cutting their jobs by lying about going to the delivery address. It would be good for a cctv camera to prove they never arrived! Even I had an automated message from Hermes saying they had tried to deliver my package 3times, despite the fact that on their website and on ebays site it stated they had tried just twice!!!! I will never use Hermes again via eBay, as I had paid £4 for a tiny package that was only worth £8 that could have been delivered by Royal Mail 2nd class for around £1.50 within 2days, which I normally did pay for the same items. Look on the internet and you will see the really bad reviews for Hermes! Don’t waste your money and your time, as I have now been waiting ten days for a package that should have been delivered a week ago!!!! The seller has been really good and is as frustrated as me!

We have an excellent local guy who does Hermes deliveries in his own car. He has always delivered very punctually, sometimes even before being notified to expect a delivery that day.

I don’t know if that is how all of Hermes operates, but it could be down to area and a very lazy delivery person who only goes out a couple of times a week.

Have you tried contacting Hermes? It will be the delivery driver who triggers the automated message and the company might be unaware of how he/she operates.

I placed an order online and was told that it would be delivered by DPD. According to the tracking information I was delivery number 43 out of 84 deliveries by someone named Andy and I was told that my delivery would be within an hour window that day. Andy duly arrived on time and out of breath. I would not like that job. It’s good to see live tracking of deliveries being used.

Andy from DPD also brings me parcels in Norwich. That might be why he’s out of breath.

They’re probably all called Andy in case anyone makes a complaint. A pseudo him.

We had an interesting delivery from UK Mail recently.

We received an email to say our parcel of peanuts for our wildlife had been delivered and signed for by ‘secure location’.

We were at home waiting for it to arrive and no parcel was delivered so I immediately found the phone number for UK Mail to report it.

UK Mail call centre could not get hold of the delivery depot by phone but emailed them to report it. Their tracking showed the driver was in the wrong road when he reported the parcel as delivered. I was told to call back in an hour then again the next day. I also contacted the vendor who reported it.

Thinking the worst, I called back the next day. The driver had been told to retrieve the parcel and deliver it to us. Yeah right………..

To our great surprise, later that day, our parcel was delivered by a very apologetic driver. The parcel was right where he left it on the doorstep in the wrong road.

What was really surprising, was that it was still intact. A box of peanuts would not have survived 24 hours if it had been left on our doorstep. The squirrels would have found them first……..

On this occasion, we think the driver somehow made an honest mistake. I found the call centre very helpful and friendly but their job is made difficult by depots who don’t answer phone calls. As I informed the call centre within minutes of the email, the driver could have retrieved the parcel immediately if the depot had contacted him.

Yes…some companies are positively mediaeval in their communications strategy. It ought to be possible to contact any deliver driver during their rounds at any time. Obviously, drivers would need to be trained to retrieve potential alerts during their stops but I wouldn’t have thought that an insuperably difficult issue.