/ Shopping

How can you avoid a bad delivery company?

Broken package

Our latest survey reveals the best and worst online shops of 2013. But who actually brings your precious parcel to your door can be a different matter entirely. So how can you avoid the worst?

Savvy customers don’t want to hand their money over to just any old company.

Who we spend our hard-earned cash with is important – most people want to make sure they only use firms with good reputations, offering what they want at a decent price. But in the case of online shopping it can be hard to know who you’re dealing with.

We looked at the biggest online shops in the UK. Our research revealed that they all use more than one delivery firm – but none of them offer customers a choice over which is used.

Delivery problems

With a third of online shopping problems relating to delivery, this seems to be the weak link in the web retail boom. It means customers who have had a bad experience with a particular delivery firm are left pretty powerless if they want to avoid using them again.

Getting the delivery you want

Couriers came bottom of the pile when we compared customer satisfaction with different delivery methods, with City Link faring worst. But how do you avoid them the next time you order something online?

We heard from one fed up customer who resorts to cancelling orders after they’re placed if he’s not happy with the delivery firm picked for him.

That might be a bit extreme, but there aren’t many other options if you want to take a stand.

Complain to the seller

Did you know, however, that the seller is responsible for goods up until they’re delivered? Any damage or breakage en route is the responsibility of the seller. So you shouldn’t be told to take up your complaint with the delivery company.

And if your package is left somewhere without your say-so and then damaged or stolen, you could argue that the seller is in breach of contract and should replace and re-deliver your item.

With Christmas just around the corner, we’re probably on the brink of the biggest online shopping boom ever. But have delivery problems affected your experience of shopping on the web? And would you like to have more control over who brings your parcel to the door?


When I shop online I do like to know who is bringing my parcel. I do check the F&Q’s / delivery page to see if it says. If not I will then leave a Facebook Page post or Tweet to ask if they use Useless Yodel.

If they say no, they use another company I will place the order. If they said yes, they do use Yodel I will make a point of saying I am shopping with another website as I do not trust them with my parcel.

I have been recently let down by DPD, which also own or are involved with UKMail which is equally as useless.

The first package was supposed to be delivered on a 24 hour turnaround which didn’t happen. I was contacted with information that stated that the package was delayed and I had to contact the seller. I could get in touch with the seller so I tried the courier’s local depot. They stated that the package had been rejected which led me to assume it was damaged. The next day it turned up and wasn’t damaged – so misinformation.

The second package should have been here today according to the notifications received on the previous day. I got another notification this afternoon on the day of quoted delivery to say it was delayed and I wouldn’t get it till tomorrow. Overnight delivery had been paid for but not achieved. I had arranged for someone to be in to sign for it but that was wasted. I can’t do the same tomorrow, so I have had to arrange for it to be placed in an outhouse at my own risk.

When I contacted the courier (DPD), they pretended to be apologetic and were very dismissive. It was extremely difficult to find a contact number for them too.

A pattern seems to be emerging.

From now on, I am going to stipulate that this courier, DPD/UKMail, is not used in any deliveries to my house. Do not use this courier.

I have to agree that Yodel is one of the most unsatisfactory courier services. Curious name as well. At a similar grade in my opinion is Hermes who seem to have a lot of internet shopping delivery contracts and entrust our purchases to some moonlighting couple in an old van who turn up at any hour of the day or night and sling them over the side gate whether we are in or not [recently caught trying to climb over the gate to unbolt it; thwarted by our padlock!].

DPD, DHL, City Link and TNT Express appear about equal: fairly reliable, efficient and systematized, with polite and careful drivers, but they all suffer from poor handling in their hubs and depots where parcels are sent along elevators and into bins leading to a lot of packaging [and sometimes contents] damage. The best carriers, in our experience, are UPS and Parcelforce.

The advent of tracking systems is a good thing but the systems need more work. For example, DPD will let you know down to a very close time-slot when their guy will get to you. They can tell you his name, show you his route, say how many drops he has, and give you the drop number for your consignment. What they won’t tell you is how to speak to someone about the delivery [it’s all telephone key-pad algorithms] and which company it is from [not much help when you’re expecting several deliveries at more or less the same time].

The big problem for recipients is that we are not the delivery companies’ customers so we don’t count for much; we are just destinations. Realising that their consignors remain liable for fulfilment, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that their overall attitude is a tad careless in respect of home delivery parcels on which they might make a bit of money through returns.

With half a dozen vans chasing each other round the streets every day making small deliveries to dispersed addresses it seems fairly obvious that there willl have to be moreconsolidation in the business. Parcelforce is part of Royal Mail, UPS is a vast American corporation, DPD is a branch of the French postal service, DHL is part of the German postal service, and I think TNT Express comes under the Netherlands postal service, so – among the majors – it’s not too difficult to guess which is the weakest link.

Apparently their name is short for Your Delivery.

When buying online, the thing that annoys me most is when the delivery charge is kept a big secret until the payment stage or until after you have created a user account with the web site. This is a breach of Regulation 7(1)(a)(iv) of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 and Regulation 6(4)(e) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. It’s even worse when the delivery charge exceeds the price of the goods!

llandl says:
21 October 2013

Don’t forget also that if the item breaks during delivery or isn’t as described, the seller must pay your return postage and packaging costs, or your return journey cost if you take it to them in person

By the way, in case you can’t read the graphic, in our survey the top delivery problems included items turning up damaged, which was the main gripe, followed by deliveries not turning up, inability to choose a delivery slot and delivery outside the agreed time.

Have you suffered any of these problems?

Probably half our deliveries arrive with some damage to the packaging and sometimes it looks as if the packaging has actually been broken into deliberately as the rupture is not consistent with the biffs and bangs of transit. Sometimes the consignor is the culprit because they haven’t packed the goods securely enough or used appropriately durable materials for the internal protection or outer casing.

Mark says:
25 October 2013

After three identical and less than ideal experiences in a row with Yodel deliveries from Amazon last year (fake entries in the tracking record about parcels having been delivered already or me having been out when a delivery attempt was made), I have stopped ordering anything over a certain size from Amazon (smaller items come with Royal Mail).
All the goods arrived in the end, and even within the time frame given by Amazon in the confirmation email, but that apparently very widespread habit within Yodel of faking deliveries or delivery attempts in the tracking record is unsettling (I’ve seen it reported many dozens of times by other people).
I actually checked a couple of old threads in Amazon’s costumer forum only the other day to see if the same complaints about Yodel are still coming in, and unfortunately they are.

I agree with NFH. The delivery charge is definitely the worst problem. In my case it is because I live in the Scottish highlands. Frequently web-sites say “free Mainland UK delivery”. Then, on the last page half of Scotland suddenly turns out not to be not UK Mainland (personally I haven’t noticed it becoming an island). The surcharge is often quite large, and unjustified. I have learned to read the delivery page before starting an order but often that still doesn’t make any surcharge clear. Choosing a delivery time is not an option. Having said that, I have only once had a problem with non/late-delivery (that was Yodel). All the other local couriers (subcontracted from the big firms) are great and look after all their items really well. One benefit of living where I do.

Hannah Bradshaw says:
25 October 2013

As an Online business for many years we had prided ourselves on a quick turn around with orders. We used Royal Mail First Class (in most cases arriving with the customer by the next day) and Standard Mail taking 2 to 3 working days for longer items. In April this year Royal Mail changed their pricing and their sizing. First Class has more than doubled in price and Standard mail sizing has been taken away. We sell artificial flowers and they vary in length. It is no longer viable for us to use Royal Mail except in a very few circumstances. We are now forced to use Parcel2Go and the courier is usually Hermes. Picking up from our end is fine and we are given a tracking number but we know nothing about the courier who is going to deliver the parcels, whether they are conscientious or hopeless and just leave it anywhere. The more you want out of the delivery system, the more you have to pay and there is a limit to what one can ask for postage. Also customers think the postage stamp is all it costs but there is the packaging the wages for the packer etc., We have had a couple of parcels just left at the end of a customer’s drive or out in the rain, but we have no control about this. You can’t talk to anyone you have to do this ‘chat on line’ which is not very satisfactory and you can’t get instant answers. It is very frightening as an online shop to be responsible for something that we can’t control.

I agree with you 100%. One of the websites I run is a website that sells shampoo (Didn’t plan to run it, but ended up with the perfect domain) and I sell them in packs of 6. It used to be £3.90 with Royal Mail till this year and it all changed. I refuse to use Yodel so 99% of the time I end up using Hermes too.

Hermes can be good, or they can be awful. As you will know they have self employed people working for them and some of them don’t give a cr*p about the parcels as they only get paid 68p per parcel.

Lying about attempted delivery has happened to me (sorry, but I cannot recall the firm). After waiting in all day for them in July they eventually claimed they had come at 7pm and got no answer. Interesting, because I was outside painting the front of the house until 8pm!

This week I had the same problem with a booked BT engineer. His control claimed he too got no answer when he knocked. I asked why he did not then ring me (I believe they know how to use a phone) as I was in all morning. I got no reply.

Your Delivery (Yodelay Hee Hee) says:
28 October 2013

Hermes deliveries to me have been a bit hit and miss in the past but lately I have had good service from them, particularly with Saturday deliveries. I have had a damaged delivery (Yodel chucked a fragile item over a 6′ gate) and a delivered parcel stolen from my doorstep (again Yodel) but the sellers arranged re-delivery and they each took the matter up with the courier, rather than leave me in the middle – I did have to be a bit pushy though. However, I had appalling service from HDN (now Yodel?) who falsified my signature. I eventually got my money back from the seller but it took a long time – I think the fact that on the PoD they’d just written my surname with no initial, spelt it wrong and supposedly delivered when I was happily watching the School Nativity with my whole family (and many witnesses) helped! You do have rights, it’s a pain when things go wrong but be persistent.

Sid Verber says:
28 October 2013

Does anyone have experience of Amazon Locker or similar services? They would appear to get around many of the delivery issues for minor inconvenience. I’ve used John Lewis Click and Collect, and that has worked really well.

Colin says:
31 October 2013

I watched an interesting TV program last week featuring people on low pay and/or zero hours contracts. What struck me was the very poor pay received by the delivery drivers featured. Can’t believe everything (anything?!) on TV and I am not excusing dishonest practices but it certainly increased my sympathy for those who don’t hang around too long when trying to deliver. We want cheap stuff, but maybe we should be prepared to pay a higher/fairer price so people can be paid properly.

nigel robinson says:
12 November 2013

Is there a current best buy survey on couriers? My recent first, and now last, experience of sending a nondelivered ebay parcel on 24/10 and still trying to get it back after 4 claimed delivery attempts and failure to comply with leave at neighbour instructions have cost me a refund and lost delivery costs and a lost item with no compensation forthcoming!
The issue is that now the postoffice and parcelforce have virtually doubled their cost, who to trust? Yodel, hermes, they all seem to be rubbish!
Anyone any recommendations?

I have used that website a few times with no problems at all.

Elle Quinton says:
24 April 2014

My delivery experience was awful. Yodel lied, claiming they attempted delivery 3 times and had left cards, however I had been home all day every day since Easter weekend and received nothing.

If it weren’t for chasing with their customer service department I would have been forced to collect my parcel which would have cost me petrol expenses as it is at least 80 miles round trip away.

My parcel did eventually arrive this afternoon, and the sticker on the front only showed a record of 1 attempted delivery. On top of this I feel the parcel had been handled poorly, before knocking on the door i heard the delivery driver drop/dump my parcel on the step, upon actually receiving my parcel it had clearly been bashed about.

I have never had a good experience with Yodel and the potential of my goods being handled by them puts me off ordering online.

Do drivers get paid by the number of attempts they make to deliver an item? Some time ago, I was waiting for an important delivery when I saw the van come onto our private premises, go past our offices and a very large sign telling all visitors to report to Reception, then drive 100yds to the bottom of our grounds. The driver then spoke to our maintenance-man and drove straight out back onto the street. The company told me that their driver had been unable to deliver as there was nobody there!

I suspect this happens when the driver is behind schedule. They presumably have GPS tracking in their vans so they can’t claim somebody wasn’t in without going to the address. But if they simply drive past the address they can claim somebody wasn’t in, catch up lost time, and presumably pass the parcel to somebody else to deliver the next day.

Very occasionally, drivers can make an honest mistake and GPS tracking confirmed where our parcel had been left::

Delivery companies need to improve communications that would then improve deliveries.

I booked ParcelForce though Parcel2go to deliver a chest of drawers I sold on Ebay and despite it being very well packed, ParcelForce completely destroyed the chest. I am claiming compensation on the included Parcel2go insurance, but Parcel2go won’t refund the shipping “as my photos of the damage show that the package was successfully delivered.” That’s a strange definition of success, and I doubt that it would stand up in court. I might pursue it through the small claims court, for the principle involved.`

I’ve struggled this week with a Yodel delivery that has resulted in a large phone bill from 3 phones calls to them to try and find out what happened to our delivery and when it was going to arrive. Firstly, the tracker went from 121 deliveries to go at 7am, to 11 remaining at 9pm, only to then change to “sorry we missed you and left a card”, even though I was there and no card was posted. After 2 calls lasting a combined 40 minutes (being on hold for 30 minutes) they claimed to be sending it the next day. Only the Yodel that turned up was another delivery we were waiting on, and the driver didn’t have another delivery for us. The tracker also showed the item hadn’t left the depot. After another 29 minute call (answered after 22 minutes) they still claimed it was coming that day. It didn’t. 3 days late, we finally have the item, but as a result of having to ring Yodel for guidance and complaints, we’re now facing phone charges of £40 even though the fault lies with the courier, and the retailer and phone providers aren’t to be blamed – it was the obvious failings and lies from Yodel.
I am sending a letter of complaint with a request to be recompensed, but have no trust that anything will be done about it. As far as I can tell, there is no regulatory obligation on Yodels part to do anything about it.
Anyone have similar issues or guidance to help me out?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Peter, you might want to bookmark this site to try and avoid expensive phone calls:

Yodel are listed with freephone numbers although companies that use expensive numbers do have a habit of keep changing them. It is also worth trying numbers in the unverified blue section, and you can click on ‘Contact Us’ and let them know if they work to help others.