Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Courier Companies


The following are my factual experiences of sending items via courier in the UK.

I was on a courier company price comparison website (Interpacel) to, well, compare courier company prices for sending an item (my faulty PSU) should I choose to sell it to someone on an online auction site (ebay) (for spares or repairs). I was presented with the above list of quotes and was somewhat surprised when I read the details of the first quote in the list (hence this post) – see the snapshot above.

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious here, but I will state it anyway by asking the (possibly) rhetorical question of “Who would send a parcel with a company that will provide no proof that the parcel has been delivered, may leave it unattended, and will provide no compensation if it gets lost or damaged?”

To put this question into “fair” context, this is an “Economy” service (from Hermes) but as soon as I read those details I imagined a courier man (I don’t think I’ve ever had a courier lady collect or deliver a parcel from me) taking the parcel off my hands and then somewhere along the lines the parcel “goes missing” i.e. someone along the lines keeps it for themselves, slings it in a bin, or maybe tries to deliver it and if no one is in keeps it for themselves, slings it in a bin, leaves it to be whittled away by someone else or become rain-soaked (i.e damaged). Where does the sender stand then? “Nowhere” is the answer.

This may all sound somewhat pessimistic on my part, and to be fair I’ve had a lot of happy and successful deliveries of items… when things I’ve bought online have been delivered to me, but sending things seems to be a different kettle of fish. Here are some issues I’ve experienced:

– The courier company (on this occasion was City Link) “does not provide proof that they have collected an item” (they will sign something if you want, but they don’t do that out routine) and thus they could claim an item was never collected if it ever goes missing, and therefore any compensation that’s included in the price or you paid extra for is null-and-void.

– The courier company (Parcelforce on this occasion, who provided no meaningful tracking information) sent the item back to me after a month, because “it was sent to Ireland where they have no postcode system in place and the courier driver couldn’t find the address” – the intended recipient claimed that he had received many items before without a problem. The pessimist in me imagined the courier company could quite simply just hold the item for a month at the first depot and just claim they attempted a delivery – I had to ask for my money back based on the grounds that I had paid them to deliver an item, which they had failed to do… it was almost like I was paying them for “trying” to deliver something, or even just hold onto it for a month.

– And then there are the times when courier companies simply fail to collect an item on the agreed day/time, with no phone call or e-mail to say sorry or them attempting to reschedule, no that is too proactive, you have to phone them (which if you have booked through a third-party like Interparcel can present an additional hurdle.) I’ve rarely had a failed delivery when I’ve been at the receiving end.

In conclusion, I’m confused why things seem to be so awkward when I send something via a courier company, rather than receiving something. If you are sending an item via courier then I advise you think rationally about the process and what the terms state – a glance at the small print would be advised, but as can be seen from the above example, you may be surprised by the upfront terms of service.

If you’re selling things on ebay, by all means give your buyers the option of economy services as a low cost option (to help you compete with other sellers on price), but also include the service you’d prefer to use – the one that will cover you if things go astray. Then, if the buyer chose the cheapest option and things do go astray then you can always say you gave them the option. Of course the pessimist in me is mindful of the possibility that a buyer on ebay may claim an item never turned up when it did, so I will never refund them just on their say-so (the customer is always right, of course). On occasions such as these I will first deal with the courier company or postal service – once I have received compensation for lost or damaged items I then refund my buyer. Refunds will have to come out of your pocket if the courier company do not provide compensation… or deal with the wrath that is ebay and paypal who will refund your buyer “on your behalf” if you don’t act swiftly and professionally.

As a point of reference I will say that I have been selling on ebay for almost ten years and I have a feedback score of over 2,000 at 100%. I am sure a day will come when my rating drops to 99.9% but so far I am keeping people happy while not taking any silly financial hits when it comes to lost items (i.e. refunding people willy-nilly when they say something hasn’t turned up).

One comment on “Courier Companies

  1. beetleypete
    6 October, 2013

    I have never had occasion to use a courier company personally, though have experienced many problems with them as a recipient. It is much better here in Norfolk, than when I lived in London, (Is that strange, or not?) though I still undoubtedly get the best overall service, when things are sent by Parcelforce/Royal Mail. I actually feel sorry for the drivers of courier companies, as their workload is almost impossible to achieve.
    I will bear your research in mind though, should I ever need to send something. Regards, Pete.

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