A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Monday, 2 January 2012

Hooptedoodle #38 - Shoot the Messenger

I tell this tale without anger or malice. I feel that the attention to detail and level of customer service I describe here should be more widely known.

I live on a farm, miles from the nearest street light, and I've become aware recently that the steps at the bottom of our front path are potentially pretty dangerous when it gets dark. We have had some elderly visitors over the holiday period and, naturally, I am concerned that someone might fall and hurt themselves. It could even be me, for goodness sake. Our solution was to order up some solar-powered spot lights, which should be bright enough, even with the limited charge they get during the short days, to help make the steps visible. I ordered them online and, since we were getting close to New Year, paid the extra whack for guaranteed next day courier delivery.

It all looked very promising. I got a series of emails from the courier, DPD, which gradually built up the story of the progress of my package. I could see when it arrived at DPD's Birmingham "hub", then the following morning when it reached their Edinburgh depot. Then a note to say that the package was on the van, and would be delivered between 14:25 and 16:25, and could we please make sure someone would be in to sign for it.

Then around 14:10 there was an additional note which said they had attempted to deliver the parcel, got no answer, and left a "You Were Out" card - would I please contact them to arrange to collect the package from their depot (40 miles away) or to arrange re-delivery. It goes without saying that they had not been here - you can see a good way down the farm lane toward the public road from our windows, and there had been no sign of a courier. I phoned the seller of the lights - they were very sympathetic, said that there had been a number of similar complaints, and that they would chase it up and someone would phone me back. They did. The card had been left "at a brown door" and DPD would contact me to arrange delivery. No brown doors here, I said, and - since we were likely to be out the following day, could the driver please leave the package in the woodshed behind the garage?

We heard nothing from DPD. Next day, I came home in torrential rain to find the box had been left on the front doorstep and was rapidly dissolving. No damage done, these are outside lights and weatherproof, but it might have been a delivery of books, and we might have gone to Florida for the Winter. Anyway, I have my lamps, with which I am pleased, and I have abandoned any hope of getting a refund of the extra shipping charge, but it wasn't very much, and they probably need the money, poor souls. It is a bit depressing though, isn't it?

In keeping with this general theme of the convenience of home delivery, here is a celebrated CCTV clip from YouTube of a FedEx driver delivering/breaking a computer monitor. Heart-warming.


  1. General Foy, this reminds me of an experience with UPS (United Parcel Service) several years ago. I had ordered some French troops to fill out my guard units and was waiting to jump onto painting them. Had the tracking number and the delivery time came and went. So I contact UPS and they say they will investigate...

    Well, I email a couple of days later for an update and also contacted the seller. Technically they are my property since I purchased them, right? Not according to UPS. I cannot inquire to the status because the sender paid them! So after many not so pleasant emails back and forth with UPS, the seller just sent me replacement figures and sad UPS gave them a refund.

    I have had other problems with UPS such as refusing to leave a package (because they don't like to ring a doorbell, they leave a dastardly "Sorry we missed you" notice and make me drive to a distribution center to go pick up a camera. After this, I offer any company I buy something through to pay for any higher shipping costs if they'll send it by any other source. UPS is beyond redemption in my eyes.

    You have my sympathy. Hopefully the lights are fine after all the mayhem.

  2. For a while I was very supportive of our couriers, because I kind of hoped they would force Royal Mail to wake up and realise they had no God-given monopoly in the UK. The way it has gone, alas, the quality of delivery staff has deteriorated - especially the self-employed contract guys, and RM are probably better now.

    I had an argument with our local Royal Mail sorting office two years ago - I asked them if they could leave parcels in the woodshed if they were too big for the mailbox, rather than leaving us a card and taking them away again. They'd just had an audit, and the supervisor was ready to fight anyone. Would I be prepared to guarantee the safety of goods in the woodshed, without limit? Well, no - that's unreasonable. So after some disgruntlement we left things as they were, and I resigned myself to calling for my parcels the following day - before 7:30am. In fact, the postie tends to leave parcels on the doorstep. It is very quiet here, so it's not so unsafe as you might expect, but they did once leave a parcel on the doorstep for a week or so when we were away in France.

    The thing is, the postie is trying to be helpful, so I am reluctant to complain too much!

    DHL used to be good, but I think we just had a good local driver.

  3. You can't beat a local friendly postman ours is superb known him for years , however because we live in a rural area private delivery firms are very poor indeed and have not improved thing at all . I always try to get parcels sent P.O. if I can.