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Are you having a Christmas delivery nightmare?

There are just a few days until Christmas and the kids are palpable with excitement for their presents. But what if their presents haven’t arrived yet? That’s exactly the situation I was looking at for my son’s new bike…

With more and more people choosing to shop online, Christmas is inevitably going to be a rather busy time for delivery firms. Despite this it seems as though the second half of December has taken them by surprise.

Yodel had to temporarily stop collecting parcels from retailers, to help clear the backlog. And then there’s my own delivery problem with Hermes – it had the bike I ordered my eldest son for Christmas for nine days before delivering it.

It got to the point that I worried about leaving the house unoccupied, just in case the courier turned up while I was out and I’d have to go through the entire rigmarole again. Or have it ruin Christmas, should it have been left on the doorstep and stolen.

Hide and seek

On the surface, Hermes customer services look good. It has a website that allows you to track your parcel, and have the option to talk to someone over the internet by typing into a live-chat box at a convenient time to you. I could see by the tracker that my package had been held up, but on live-chat no one would tell me why or would do anything about it.

I’d have happily collected it myself, but they couldn’t tell where it was. The live-chat assistant wouldn’t call the courier as I’m not the retailer, but the retailer told me they weren’t getting anywhere either.

There’s another side to this story too

The shop I ordered the bike from is a small firm that’s being hit hard by delivery problems – apparently I wasn’t the only customer order they had to chase. The people working there were brilliant in trying to get information for me and also offered me a refund – but if I had accepted this, it meant they would lose out on a sale and my son could have missed out on his Christmas present. However, it is worth pointing out at this point that your legal rights are with the retailer when deliveries go wrong – you can find out all about this on our Consumer Rights site.

After tweeting, contacting the site’s live-chat three times, posting on the Hermes Facebook page, sending a message via Facebook Messenger and emailing the CEO, it was the latter that paid off. I got a call from Hermes and was guaranteed the bike before Christmas. I was even assured it will be monitored personally by a member of staff. It’s now arrived, but I went through a lot of stress in the process. Hermes provided the following response:

‘We handle over 200 million parcels every year and 98.9% of these are delivered within 48 hours with less than 1% of parcels returned as undelivered. We believe the vast majority of our customers receive good service, a view that has endorsed by a number of independent third parties. This year we won the 2014 Motor Transport Operational Excellence and Compliance award and also received the second best customer score of the national carriers in the 2014 Which? report ‘Best and worst courier delivery firms’. However we are aware that in a very few cases our processes fail which has an adverse impact on the customer delivery. This affects only a tiny proportion of the 200 million parcels we deliver each year, but we are still constantly striving to improve this. We would like to apologise wholeheartedly to Ms Barber for any inconvenience caused and are very pleased that the bike arrived in time for Christmas.’

It’s these sort of delivery experiences that inspired the launch of our Stamp Out Dodgy Deliveries campaign.  Out of the more than 2,000 stories that have been shared with us, Hermes happens to be second most complained about courier, with Yodel taking the top spot. By the way, Yodel’s top. A situation retailers must address.

Have you had any problem deliveries this Christmas? How has the delivery firm or retailer offered to resolve it?


As recounted in the ‘dodgy deliveries’ conversation this is the shower that took over three weeks to deliver an item I sent from the Midlands to a fenland address near Peterborough. In biblical fashion they crowed three times that they had tried to deliver but this was patently untrue. A postcode in the middle of a fen, a single approach covered by cameras . . . No hint of sympathy nor an apology.

My family and contacts refer to them as ‘Herpes’ nowadays implying they are a condition best to avoid. The problem is that it seems they are all patchy. In my family’s two areas, one city and the other remote rural, Yodel, UKMail and Amazon seem to star yet we read horror stories of their performance elsewhere. Much seems to be down to the commitment and proficiency of the local staff so long as the ‘trunking’ between depots operates as it should.

Much as I’d like to be holier than thou and advise ordering in good time before Christmas, I fall into the same trap of leaving it too late. However, it’s been a good year this year. Pressies ordered 10 days ago all arrived fairly quickly – by Royal Mail, Hermes (still left on the doorstep though), Next and Yodel (who on tracking were supposed to be delivering a big parcel and I’d given up, until a knock on the door at 8:30 pm with an apology he was so late). Even click and collect crackers from M&S, supposedly delayed 48 hours, had arrived at the store when we collected other stuff – only the day after the order. Just to add balance! <: o)

I ordered a birthday present for my mum about 2 weeks before the date, after waiting 8 days I emailed the supplier asking where it was. Apparently it had just been returned by Royal Fail as they’d managed to damage it. So without asking he then used a courier at no extra cost to me and gave me a £5 rebate as a good will gesture.

Royal Fail could learn alot about customer service from this chap.

I’d always use the Santa Claus delivery service if only it was available all year. Came right on time last night – as it does every year – without a single breakage. All parcels left safely inside the house, None on the doorstep. in the dustbin or the barbecue. .

With Citylink going bust, there’s more trouble ahead…

I sent two FootWarmers at two different periods a week or so apart through Collect Plus and both Footwarmers never arrived at the intended recipients.The FootWarmers were sent Standard Tracked and though they confirm that they have lost the items ,they have not refunded me for the Foot Warmer and the cost of service which I paid them.T

They told me to complete a claim form and I have not heard from them and nobody is responding to my emails.The person whom it was sent to has not received anything yet.How can these dodgy courier services be allowed to get away with it and leave the onus on the retailer who is not running a courier service? How do I get my money back and should they not have insurance to cover this and how do I get this information?…Thanks.

It looks as though your carrier company could be in breach of contract to you, W, but it might not be so straightforward. I had not heard of Collect Plus before but it seems they rely on other intermediaries [shops all over the country] to act as receiving and dispatching agents for handling consignments so there are two further links in every chain where a package could go missing or be purloined. Presumably your customers had to collect their purchases from a local convenience store. and were told they had not been delivered [which might, or might not, have been true]. There is no evidence on the Collect Plus website that they use their own vehicles and drivers to carry consignments from their collection points to a distribution warehouse, or indeed whether they even have such a hub; in other words they could be relying on contractors to do all parts of the process. That is just a guess on my part but if correct there are just too many links in the chain. It would no doubt cost more to use a higher-grade carrier such as DPD, ParcelForce. UK Mail, or similar to collect and control your consignment all the way from your address to your customers’ addresses every time. but your experience with Collect Plus is already costing you too much. I hope you get your money back but it might not include anything for the missing products [it will depend on their terms & conditions]. You have possibly also lost two customers for which there is no relief.

Collect Plus call themselves “couriers” but that is a fancy description for a service they are clearly not providing; at best they are “parcel carriers”, but they might only be a website that connects various parts of a delivery chain.

This never seems to get any better. Unusually, I’ve made two online orders in the past week for which both companies have chosen to use Hermes. In both cases I’ve received email notification from Hermes that the order has been delivered: the first stating that my parcel was located securely in my porch and the second that it had been delivered and signed for. In neither case was the notifcation true: in the first case the parcel appeared about 6 hours later (I guess that it had been languishing on someone else’s porch but can’t be sure as there was not time stamp on the Hermes note put through the door and no note from a friendly neighbour either); the second case is still unresolved…

Perhaps we can have a campaign to get on-line suppliers to give a choice of preferred (and certainly not to be used) couriers within their delivery options?

You need to complain to the supplier from whom you purchased your goods Stefan. As long as The Consumer Rights Act states the onus remains with the retailer, absolving the delivery company of all liability, the delivery company will continue with its substandard practices, safe in the knowledge that they are also covered by a 30 day delivery deadline, in which case you need to place your online Christmas order by about 25th November!

In my recent previous post I used the 4 C’s when making a complaint.

Consumer Rights Act
Credit Card Co
Competition in the marketplace
Clout (If you say you are a member of Which?)

I used these recently and my missing order was delivered via Hermes within the next 3 days.