Bit Between The Teeth

I don't know why, but I seem to have become quite an angry person lately and getting a bee in my bonnet about things that are apparently outside of my control, which is why this blog has been a bit on the grumpy side lately.

Sorry about that.

That said, how much of it can be justified?  I know people don't want to read grumpy blogs, but when you have things going on such as those surrounding Richard O'Dwyer (have you signed the petition yet?), or poor business operation such as I'm about to go into here and public opinion being completely ignored, is it not surprising that people get increasingly frustrated and need an outlet for that frustration?

So, the thing that has gotten me hot under the collar today is that most inimitable of delivery organisations, Yodel.  In all fairness, the crux of the issue can also be applied to Citi-Link and, I daresay, a few other delivery organisations that I have yet to experience.

The core of the matter is that I have effectively lost a day's pay thanks to sitting around at home waiting for delivery and trying to glean any information about the delivery out of customer services.  The result of all this is that I now need to take a second day out of work as the order will arrive anywhere between 7am and 9pm tomorrow.  In my current state of mind, this has lead to me writing something of a long-winded complaint:

Dear Sirs

I live in a flat with a communal entrance that it appears no delivery company, barring Royal Mail, are prepared to leave an attempted delivery card.

Bearing this in mind, I noticed last night (3 July) from your tracking system that my order from Amazon was with the courier and out for delivery, indicating that I had missed the delivery, but no card had been left. On the basis that you will not leave cards at communal doors (confirmed on the telephone today) and in the expectation that the delivery was to be re-attempted (as is common), I took the day off work to make sure that I would be in for the delivery; a reasonable course of action.

To be sure that I didn't waste the whole day waiting, I contacted your customer services team on three occasions to see if I could get any information that would allow me to lessen my time away from work, the first two calls of which could provide me with no information but said they would get back to me: they did not.

The third call, at approximately 15:45, was with a young man who spoke to the courier after I outlined the situation and who said that the delivery would be any time tomorrow (5 July), up to 9pm, since it was a 72 hour delivery. However, his interpretation of a 72 hour delivery appears to be from the time the final courier in the delivery chain receives the goods to the time of delivery at the target address. In this case, from Amazon's perspective on this occasion, they have received a 120 hour turnaround service, not a 72 hour service, as the timescales should surely be started from the time Yodel accepts responsibility for the delivery of the goods, i.e. at one minute past midnight, in this case. 

Understandably, hearing that the courier, despite being in possession of the order and seeing the website status showing as out for delivery, was leaving the delivery to what he/she perceived to be the last possible minute, I got rather upset and frustrated, driven by the fact that a) I now have to take another day off work for which I will not get paid (I get paid minimum wage and only for the hours I work), and b) if the first person I spoke to had said as much, then I would only have lost a couple of hours pay today as I could have headed into work.

My feeling of frustration was not helped by the young man making the snarky comment "Yodel didn't ask you to take the day off". No, you did not, but considering your restrictive delivery actions (refusing to leave a card at a communal entrance, misleading delivery status on tracking, etc), it was not unreasonable to take the course of action that I did. As such, this highlights exceedingly poor service on the part of Yodel.

Based on the above situation, I would like to register this as a serious complaint regarding the service you offer, on a number of grounds:
  1. Any organisation or individual that requests your services should reasonably expect that you will make every effort to make first delivery within the timescales paid for. For example, for a delivery to be within 72 hours, the clock must start ticking from the time Yodel take responsibility for the delivery of the item. Failure to do so constitutes a breach of contract. 
  2. If your tracking system states that the item is out for delivery, then it MUST be out for delivery, not sitting in the courier's possession until the last possible delivery date. 
  3. It took all day to get any kind of useful information from your customer services team. The ladies that I spoke to on the first two calls were helpful and polite enough, but resulted in me learning no new information about the order. 
  4. If your team members say they will get back to a customer with more information, then they should do exactly that. It is not just good practice, but also good manners. 
  5. Every member of your team must maintain professionalism when in contact with customers, especially when said customers are in a state of frustration due to poor quality information and communication from your organisation. For the most part, the young man I spoke to was polite, until I realised I had to lose another day's pay and became upset and frustrated, at which point his tone changed and his comments were not helpful. 
After all of this, I was left with the notion that the affect you have on the lives of others means nothing to you and that you are not prepared to work with your customers to ensure even a decent level of service. My perception is that there is an increasingly disturbing trend in courier organisations to ignore the fact that the receivers of the goods they deliver are actually a part of the customer chain, only being interested in the source of income. It is worth pointing out here that whilst the money for the cost of delivery may come from the organisation that hired you, quite frequently that money has actually come from the individual placing the order for the goods. As such, listening to the view of the general public and acting on it, IS important.

I suspect that you will not have reached this point in my complaint, but I shall offer up some suggestions for improvement anyway: 
  1. Put systems in place that allow your customer services teams to be better informed. This could be as simple as introducing new status settings for display on your tracking system. 
  2. Constrain your core delivery times to something more acceptable: a vague reference to a delivery any time between 7am and 9pm displays an arrogant disregard for your consumers and their circumstances, and presents the notion that you believe everyone should fit around you. Even constraining delivery times into morning, afternoon and evening delivery slots would be a huge benefit to everyone. 
  3. Where possible, communicate with your customers. Organisations that hire you for delivery services will likely have an e-mail address and/or a mobile phone number for delivery recipients. Why not make use of this data to inform recipients of their delivery slot on the day before delivery? People will know exactly where they need to be and when, and can then plan their days better. Additionally, this information will allow the courier to contact the recipient when they attempt to deliver and are unable to, allowing for other courses of action to be taken, i.e. immediate re-arrangement of delivery, arrange for collection instead, agreement to leave with a neighbour, and so on. 
There are likely other improvements that could be made, but the above three points are perhaps the most important and would have the most impact on the currently negative perception of your organisation. In the interest of making these issues more public and in the hope that you will take notice, I will also be posting this complaint on my blog. 

Unfortunately, these online forms are not designed for large-scale responses and the comments needed to be limited to a mere 1500 characters, so the following was sent instead:

I noticed last night on your tracking system that my order from Amazon was with the courier and out for delivery, indicating I had missed the delivery, but no card had been left. Since you will not leave cards at communal doors and expecting the delivery to be re-attempted, I took the day off work to make sure I would be available; a reasonable course of action. To be sure I didn't waste the day waiting, I contacted customer services on three occasions to see if I could get any further information, the first two calls of which provided nothing but said they would get back to me: they did not. The third was with a young man who spoke to the courier and said the delivery would be any time tomorrow, up to 9pm, since it was a 72 hour delivery. However, it appears that 72 hour delivery is NOT from the time Yodel take responsibility, but from the time the final courier receives it!!

Hearing that the courier was leaving the delivery to the last possible minute, I got rather upset, driven by the fact that a) I will now lose a second days pay (I get minimum wage and only for the hours I work), and b) if the first person I spoke to had said this, then I would only have lost a couple of hours pay today.

Things were not helped by the young man making the comment "Yodel didn't ask you to take the day off". No, you did not, but considering your restrictive delivery operation, it was not unreasonable to take the course of action I did. This highlights exceedingly poor service.

Will anybody listen? Probably not, but at least it's gotten it off my chest for the time being.

[Update]
The somewhat dented package was delivered at 13:40 on 5 July, by an individual dressed in grey trackie bottoms, a grey hoody and a grey t-shirt, arriving in what must have been his own little red Fiesta-style car.  Yodel might want to consider having a read of the branding basics and Business Link...
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