/ Shopping

Is your parcel delivery damaged?

In the UK more than 10% of our shopping is now done online. And whilst we’ve come a long way in terms of improving the online shopping experience there’s one area where it appears that there’s still work to do – the delivery. So why is that?

Like I said, a large proportion of our shopping is done online, and then there’s catalogue and in store shopping too. Well these all lend their weight to the 1.7bn parcels that are delivered around the UK every year.

There are a number of delivery companies that take on the task of delivering our parcels – one of them being Yodel, the UK’s biggest independent delivery firm. Yodel delivers around 155m parcels every year.

Well last night I appeared on Channel 4’s Dispatches, joining the programme to unveil their investigation into some pretty poor practices carried out in a Yodel warehouse.

Yodel uncovered

In a behind the scenes investigation Dispatches revealed footage of Yodel staff throwing clearly marked ‘fragile’ and ‘handle with care’ parcels around their depot and into their vans.

There were scenes of parcels being tossed around from person to person quite carelessly. And whilst Yodel have stated that their staff ‘are never trained to throw a parcel’ it was clear that these rules were being blatantly ignored.

Now, you may recall our campaign against dodgy deliveries. It was backed by over 19,000 of you who wanted to see the delivery companies smarten up their game and start delivering the service we all expect – that means an end to missing and damaged parcels.

Last November our campaign came to a close after we saw a marked improvement in customer service, all delivery companies achieved over 70% in customer satisfaction survey. So this behind the scenes behaviour is pretty disappointing to see.

Sort it out

Having watched Dispatches footage, my first thought was that it’s amazing that we get anything delivered that isn’t broken! And it was clear that the training given, simply wasn’t being followed.

Yodel clearly need to address this with their staff right across their warehouses. When you order something for delivery you should be able to expect that your purchase will be handled and delivered with care and consideration. If your delivery hasn’t met expectations then make sure you know your rights.

So what’s your experience been like with delivery companies? Have you had a particularly bad or even good experience that you’d like to share?


When you pay peanuts, you get ….

Adam Birkett says:
2 February 2016


My additional gripe about poor delivery companies (additional to the lousy service) is the growing trend in these companies not providing a contact number to call when things go wrong. ‘Hermes’ is a perfect example, where an order from Clarkes shoes was thrown over a neighbours’s back gate (instead of ours !), and a card put through their door with no contact number. You are supposed instead to contact the original supplier and chase them.

Yes – this is clearly another way of saving money – by not having somebody answering the phone.

Even when I did find a number on the internet, they refused to speak to me as I wasn’t the supplier.

Have found this lack of contact number again this week on a delivery from ‘APC overnight’ – although I must stress that in the end the delivery was made correctly and courteously the following day. No complaint there about the actual delivery.

Bottom line is to ‘vote with your feet’. I now will not order anything from a company who uses ‘Hermes’.

Real World is that I believe we need to be prepared to pay a bit more for a proper service. As with other businesses, do we always go with the cheapest quote? No.

C Chapman says:
2 February 2016

Consumers should have the right to know who the delivery company will be for their order, before placing their order – so that they can make an informed choice of whether they wish to trust their order with that delivery company or not. Even the most reputable companies such as Waitrose/John Lewis have contracts with the likes of Yodel – as I found out to my gross disappointment when I ordered some flowers from Waitrose a while ago, which went disastrously wrong. Had I known then that Yodel would have been the delivery company I would never have placed the order with Waitrose in the first place…

Perhaps Which? could start a campaign for customers to be informed of the delivery company to be used, before placing their order? Consumers need to be able to make an informed choice.

I agree that we deserve to know which delivery company will be employed but the complication is that some retailers use several companies for deliveries. I prefer to use Royal Mail/Parcelforce because it has been so simple to pick up missed deliveries from their depot.

Maybe I’m the only one who has never had a problem with Yodel but both John Lewis and Waitrose have messed me around. There does seem to be a lot of luck involved.

Part of the damage problem is due to inadequate packaging by the consignor. It is common knowledge that parcels despatched from a company’s warehouse will be loaded and unloaded with rough handling and sent along complex conveyor systems at the carrier’s hub(s) where they get tumbled and bounced before they end up on the delivery van, so suppliers should recognise that and package goods appropriately. If undelivered goods are returned to the carrier’s warehouse or hub they go through further handling that can exacerbate existing damage.

Ultimately, it the supplier’s responsibility to ensure that orders are fulfilled satisfactorily and that any damage or breakages are dealt with. C Chapman – did you report the mess-up with the flowers to Waitrose, and if so how did they deal with it?

I tend prefer Royal Mail or Parcelforce because they generally handle goods carefully and because it is easy to arrange a redelivery if they call when you are not at home. Having said that a recent stationery order delivered by Parcelforce was in a shocking state on arrival. The contents were OK in two out of three boxes although the boxes were badly deformed. The third box was a carton of five reams of printer paper; although the carton had been protectively wrapped in polythene with parcel tape, when that outer wrapping was removed it was clear that the box had been subjected to some very rough handling as all four corners had split and broken out, and the paper wrapping protecting the reams was torn on each pack. In this case I consider that the supplier had taken reasonable care to pack the goods satisfactorily and that the problem was due to mishandling by the carrier. I accept that printer paper is a particularly dense and bulky product to transfer and that its mass applies very powerful forces to the box leading to deformation; amazingly all the paper was in satisfactory condition.

Coopers of Stortford. They just put all your order in box’s then into a plastic bag.
I ordered a safety helmet. It arrived all battered.
hermes. They expect you to be online all the time to expect the parcel. They told me on line the parcel had been delivered it had not. I even had the driver turn up with some c**k and bull story.
Compensation. An anonymous box of chocolates, which I am allergic to.
The best one was from Big Dug, cannot remember the courier, clearly on the box was the size 10 boot mark, which had damaged the parts inside.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I know the time Parcel Force will deliver nearly every time not to the minute but to half an hour it seems to always the same whoever the driver

I have had parcels delivered to me by Yodel, never had a problem with them, I live in sheltered accommodation and have to get through four doors and a gate to collect from the driver, if the parcels are heavy he always carries them to my flat for me never a problem.

This all part of the delivery malaize of this country, my replacement printer ink did not even arrive Post Office lost it, fortunately the sender covered my payment and returned it.

Andrew Pestell says:
3 February 2016

Recently ordered an item on EBay from a seller in the Ukraine and about 3 weeks later had a Royal Mail PDO collection card through my door. Went to the PDO to collect but the item could not be found and was told a manager would be in touch. Went back to the PDO a week later as I had not been contacted as promised – still no parcel but saw a manager who admitted Royal Mail had lost it but said the sender (i.e. EBay seller) would have to claim compensation not me. Tried to claim through EBay but the seller provide a link to the Royal Mail tracking site showing a parcel delivery signature which consisted simply of the number 8. Later learnt that this was probably the number of the postman who took receipt at the PDO as I certainly didn’t sign for anything. The seller would not make a claim from Royal Mail as he had the delivery signature and had bad experiences claiming from the Royal Mail in the past , EBay would not cover it and the Royal Mail say I can not claim for it as I was not the sender even though they do admit they lost the parcel. Consequently I am out £20 with no recourse possible.

Neil says:
4 February 2016

Dear Pete,

I missed Channel 4’s Dispatches programme. But I have received damaged good: a bath with two holes; a sink basin in three broken pieces. It is the retailer I am writing to for a refund, rather than the delivery company.

I have written a letter about The Consumer Rights Act 2015, based on the Which template. Next week I will be writing a letter about the Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations 2015. We will probably be one of the first families to register with the new Online Dispute Resolution platform on 15 February.

We are a family, and we really need a new bathroom. Our current bath has a broken tap and a hole. Our sink also has a hole and is crumbling. This is why we ordered the new bath and sink, planning to have it installed before Christmas.

All the best,


Hi Neil, thanks for sharing, it sounds like you’ve had a particularly bad experience here. It’s good to hear that you’ve found our templates on the Consumer Rights website useful. I hope you manage to get this resolved, please let us know how you get on!

I’ve rarely had breakage problems over the 10 years I’ve been using online buying. The packaging has not always been great. One pet food company in particular sent oversized boxes crudely taped smaller with the goods rolling around inside. As it was tins they were merely crushed. Amazon packs really well, with just the right amount of packaging. The best, most convenient delivery firm is DPD who deliver practically to the minute with a text and email on the morning of delivery giving the one hour slot for delivery and then you can access the tracking map which gives a minute by minute progress on the drivers delivery route. I have even managed to get to the door as he arrives. They are pleasant and helpful, carrying heavy loads in. If I was a company I would use DPD as my delivery firm as customer satisfaction would be so high!

Sarah says:
10 February 2016

Parcelforce are no better. Waited in all day,checked tracking which said they had attempted delivery at the exact time i was on the doorstep calling them to complain. Waited in all day next day to get tracking info at 3.30 saying they couldn’t find the address. . No sign Saturday they ended up paying a different courier to deliver it on the Sunday. Absolute joke. Wont orde4 from Pets at home ever again.

Raymond leek says:
2 September 2020

Ordered a bike on line when it arrived by Yodel , my wife phoned me as I was down the road,When I arrived home all I can say is,the box containing a bicycle with fragile on in tape,was battered, ripped,stood on,Think evert thing in the van had been stacked on it,there were parts sticking through the box wit scratch on,AS I pulled it into our room a smaller box fell out ,that had a part sticking through the cardboard, yodel should be totally ashamed by this lack of care,never took the bike out of the box,sending it back for a replacement,if it arrives ok I will not shop with people who use Yodal

If the bike was poorly packaged, part of the blame must surely rest with the retailer.

It would be good if we were told which carrier a retailer intends to use, so that we could choose where to buy from.

Raymond – I agree with Wavechange. I would say the responsibility lies much more with the retailer because they decide which carriers to employ and they should make sure they use one that has a good process for preventing damage to goods in transit. They should also package things properly to prevent obvious causes of damage or the goods breaking out of the box.

I have seen a notice from one of the carrier companies advising consignors not to use “Fragile” labels; it says that if goods are susceptible to damage in normal operations they should be packaged appropriately for the nature of the contents and for the journey.

The problems today are that parcel handling has become almost fully automated, guided only by the barcode on the consignment label, and goods can be loaded and unloaded multiple times at hubs and depots, they travel on conveyors and are diverted onto chutes and slides, tipped into containers, and generally tossed and tumbled several times on their route. Consignors probably have little appreciation of these conditions and therefore do not know how robust the packaging needs to be to withstand the rigours of modern transit.

I hope things go better with your replacement bicycle.