/ Shopping

Sorry, you were out and here’s the bill

Padlock with mail written on it

Sorry can be the hardest word – and it’s a damn sight harder when there’s a bill attached. I’m a bit peeved by a delivery company that only delivers while I’m at work, meaning I have to pay for to get it delivered when I’m in.

I’m not the only one who’s irked by ‘Sorry, you were out’ cards, but this one from a particular courier firm also came with a shocker of a bill.

I know it’s a business and all that, but £12 to get a parcel redelivered at a time when it suits me, not the firm? That’s taking the biscuit.

True, the company would redeliver free of charge… during the working day. Or I could collect it from one of its depots… in the next county.

Or it would leave my parcel in a safe place, but as it was one of those iPhone 5 things I’d feel a prize fool if I asked such a goodie to be left in the porch for the world (or least south-east London) to see. After all, the iPhone 5 generates queues of fanatics desperate to get their hands on one; it’d be a risk to the neighbourhood if we left one of those just lying about.

Poor old Royal Mail

I think what irks me most is that with some items you can’t get them delivered to the office, only the cardholder’s address, and that there’s often no choice of courier. This was exactly the case with my iPhone 5.

If there was a choice of which courier to use, or I was told I could pay a bit more for a weekend delivery when I placed my order, then I may have been a bit more forgiving.

Likewise, I’m a bit suspicious of these courier firms cherry picking all the best bits of delivery and leaving the rotten roles (such as Saturday post, delivering to remote places) to Royal Mail. It seems to me that with all the profitable work being plucked from its posties’ hands, Royal Mail has to bump up prices to cover its costs (60p for a first-class stamp anyone?)

So next time courier chums, feel free to apologise profusely on your cards – but don’t ask me to pay if I want to get more than words delivered by you.


Delivery hassle is the main thing that puts me off internet shopping. If I’ve got to get in the car and drive miles to the depot on a Saturday morning I might as well have spent that Saturday morning buying the thing from a shop in the first place. Oh and don’t get me started on Yodel.

Even the saintly John Lewis has much room for improvement. Their two slots – 7am till 2pm and 2pm till 10pm are completely hopeless unless you are lucky enough to be able to work from home occasionally.

I’m lucky I can get a lot delivered to my place of work, otherwise I wouldn’t do any internet shopping.

The two things about distance-buying deliveries are [a] the suplier is not obliged to tell the customer which courier/delivery company it is using [it would be nice to have a contact number or tracking facility as the better ones do], and [b] the courier/delivery driver not giving the nam,e of the consignor on their calling card. At present I am expecting five consignments. Two are trackable and the rest will come as and when over a four day spread. Suppliers do it this way because they can get cheaper delivery costs but at the expense of customer service. I suppose if I was going to get “one of those iPhone 5 things” it would not be an urgent purchase and I would wait until I was near a retailer, but I recognise that the best prices are probably only available on-line with a purchase from a distance-seller. I expect “You pays yer money and you takes yer choice” is the prevailing philosophy.

I meant to say “The two things that irk me most about . . .” at the beginning.

I ordered a child’s scooter on-line for a birthday. Promised next working day delivery via FedEx but there was a delay of a day (the supplier emailed me) and I had to be away from home when it was delivered. Got home – card from FedEx saying they’d left the parcel in our greenhouse in the back garden. Safe and dry. Top marks.

Doug Fennell says:
3 November 2012

With the growth of internet shopping this should have been a no-brainer for the Post Office to clean up. But their Parcel Post rates are extortionate compared to other courier firms. PO up to 4kls = £8.80 – MyHermes up to 5kls = 5.99 & PO up to 10kls = £18.80 – MyHermes = £7.14. Po takes 3 days and MyHermes 4 but they collect from your house and will leave parcels in a safe place. I gave up on the PO during their last strike and never went back.

Doug – agreed it is a shame the Post Office does not compete. One reason may be that it has to provide a universal service (delivers everywhere at consistent rates) as a public service, whilst other organisations can cherry pick the more attractive business. Your last sentence may also be telling – strike being the symptom of a disease. Resistance to change, and inability to sell change, has produced a lack of investment and a lack of support for more efficient working. The industry is strangled, jobs are lost, and we shoot ourselves in the foot. Perhaps if all employees had a shareholding in their company it might colour their attitude towards supporting its progress? And if incompetent politicians stopped interfering?

Delivery Service? says:
10 November 2012

A survey of the delivery service offered by the major suppliers of white goods would be good,
Tesco – offer a 7am-7pm -stay in all day -non service
Boots – offer the same with a four hour slot given on the day
Others will give a 90 minute slot -that sounds about right .
Perhaps Hilary Devey should show them how its done.

Tesco gave up when i wanted the item delivered to a different address!
System could’t cope !

Pamela Eyden says:
11 November 2012

I recently ordered an item and waited in for the estimated delivery dates (they spanned 4 days)-nothing doing. So waited in the next day, a Saturday, and the following Monday. Contacted seller who gave me a tracking no-but tracking no. and my post-code didn’t match. So contacted courier, YODEL, They’ve never got back to me. In the meantime, seller re-sent my order with UKmail, who delivered exactly when they said they would, so after being a ‘prisoner’ at home for days and days, I can now go out. This shopping on-line is interesting, but give me a good old shop any day of the week-living in a tower-block and getting stuff delivered don’t mix very well as no ‘safe places’ to leave parcels

What has struck me in this season of goodwill is how many couriers (Yodel, Hermes for example) just dump a parcel on my doorstep when we are clearly at home and then leg it – no knock on the door before they abscond so you can retrieve it. We only find it by chance – sometimes the next day -when we open the door. Do others of you have this same experience?
Contrast that with my postlady who, if it is early, will put the post through the letterbox and if she has a parcel that won’t fit hides it in the porch and writes a note on our post to tell us. Top marks.

nigel robinson says:
12 November 2013

Have i missed it or is there a comparative evaluation survey of delivery companies like myhermes and yodel?
If not, could you start one ? There seems to be so much negative about myhermes and yodel services but no comparative info on others or any positives or comparison of services and charges.
My recent first (&last!) Experience with my hermes as an alternative to extortionate high prices from post office leaves me with few alternatives and no recommendations. I would welcome such a survey and willingly contribute.

Hi Nigel

We did do a members’ survey of different delivery firms and both MyHermes and Yodel were included in it. November’s magazine has our full investigation into online deliveries – as well as the best and worst online shops – if you want to see more.

We also asked members to rate different types of delivery methods, with regular post coming out top.

It’s definitely an issue we’ll continue looking at so do watch this space!



Maria says:
3 February 2014

Hi Ellie

How can I get a copy of the November issue? I’d be very interested in seeing the survey, understanding different options.

Looking for a courier solution at the moment and all seem to have quite bad reviews online!



Hi Maria

Thanks for your interest in our November 2013 magazine reports.

If you’re a Which? subscriber, you can log in and view the relevant articles through ‘My account’. Here’s a direct link to November’s PDFs:


If you’re not a Which? member but wish to find out about our trial memberships, please call Member Services on 01992 822800.

Thanks again for your interest and I do hope it helps!


You might like to have a look at a more recent Which? Conversation that goes under the title “How can you avoid a bad delivery company?” – put “courier” in the search box at the top of the page and this one will come up top of the list.

Please ignore my last post Nigel . . . I see you’ve already been there!

Bob Stephenson says:
27 October 2014

I ordered a 10 inch commemorative porcelain plate on e-bay. It was wrapped in cardboard with bubble wrap inside and “fragile” in red tape on the outside. We were out when it was delivered .Despite the fact that we have a notice on the porch saying there is a large parcel flap at the side of the porch of sufficient size to take the item and in addition our neighbours had already agreed to take in any parcels if necessary; Instead the HERMES delivery person left a card saying it had been put over the (locked) back gate. Needless to say the plate did not survive the 7 foot drop!! HERMES refused ANY compensation to the sender (or me) on the grounds that their conditions do not accept porcelain items for delivery. End of story! We would have gladly collected the item from the depot had the deliverer given us the option. We shan’t be using HERMES in a hurry!