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Mmm. I do a lot of online shopping and most of the stuff arrives quickly and safely. My worst experience was with Ikea, who failed spectacularly to deliver a new sofa for days. When it finally arrived after numerous emails and phone calls it had two left arms.


I have had a couple of distressing experiences with flower deliveries, ordered through M&S but delivered by independent couriers presumably. The bouquet for my mother's 80th birthday didn't arrive (I was teaching at the other end of the country), and when my husband rang he was told, 'It'll be delivered tomorrow' - I had dearly wanted it to arrive whilst she was holding 'open house' to friends and relatives so that she felt extra special. Thinking things couldn't go so wrong again, we ordered a basket of bulbs for what would have been our friends' son's 13th birthday - he had died twelve weeks previously. They were out when the basket was delivered completely smashed - not slightly damaged but crushed - we felt like we had twisted the knife. Both incidents resulted in a refund, but nothing makes up for the disappointment and distress. Maybe, in the light of the traffic density we now experience, companies who promise next day delivery are being unrealistic - I once witnessed a Parcel Force van cross a busy retail car park at top speed - scary.


Oh, my word!


Oh, Marge! If my parcel hadn't turned up today it would have been awkward but not the end of the world; your experiences, however, are much worse - how upsetting.


Mph. You are lucky to live in the central belt. Spare a thought for the outposts in the NW where the 50 miles of road from Inverness is so rugged that it takes 24 hours to cross and sometimes it seems to be the haunt of bandits.

The most irritating thing is when the companies say 'free delivery' and then maintain this fiction until the last screen where you give your card number and complete the payment. At this moment, they leap out from the undergrowth and declare 'except for the Highlands & Islands'.

Sorry.. I'll stop before I hijack your blog.



From a seller's point of view the whole thing is a nightmare. Being conscientiousness you try and use the best service available but it is a leap of faith.

Tracking seems so pointless when they ask for illegible signatures on electronic devices and fake the delivery times. There is far too much contracting out and the ends of chains are too often 'staffed' by any old body in a private car or even taxi.


No, you're quite right to feel aggrieved, Sandy.
In a way, though, it's a worse failure on the part of these couriers when the delivery address is so close to their depots and the major transport routes - if they can't get a parcel to a house in the centre of the capital without mishap, what hope is there for them reaching customers like you out in the wilds?

Ruth Marler

I'm amazed that anyone should even believe that anything would arrive. I live between Heathrow Aurport and Hampton Court Palace so not exactly out in the sticks. Often items don't arrive or take many days. Cards are put through the door to say they tried to deliver but I have been in all the time. Work is no better. Items that should be signed for are just left with the ordinary post.
I think the "Royal" should be stripped from "Royal Mail".


I sympathise, and I wonder how smaller businesses in general manage when much larger ones with clout are let down so badly (that said, anything I've ordered from you has come without delay, Catherine).
I'd love to know what Mary Portas thinks of this - as a retail expert and someone who believes strongly in delivering good service in shops, she must have a view and maybe some ideas on how the system could be improved.


Touch wood, I haven't had any of the 'tried to deliver' cards when I've been in, and my usual posties are lovely and - as far as I'm aware - on time with things. Stories such as yours, Ruth, are all too common, and yet it seems like such a 'simple' thing to get a properly addressed parcel to its destination using a network that's been established for that purpose. I'd like to know what really goes on when things don't arrive as they should.


I could go on and on, I think your post has touched a nerve with many of us. Most of my business supplies come by post and success is about 80%. I no longer order from anyone who uses Yodel as I have found their service to be completely unacceptable.

As a seller I am heavily reliant on Royal Mail and incredibly frustrated by inconsistency of the service and the difficulty in dealing with their customer service department- surely that telephone menu system is specifically designed to persuade the customer to give up.


Oh, no wonder you're fuming. We've all been there.
I ordered some clothes online and had a voucher code for next day delivery, which would have been a Friday. The courier was Yodel. By the end of the day, no parcel, phoned courier office, they didn't answer, emailed retailer. 'Couldn't find address' turned out to be the excuse. For the next few days I tracked my parcel being carried all over Dorset and eventually received it the following Wednesday. I now refuse to deal with any company using Yodel as a courier.
Big contrast, nice lady delivering for Hermes went to a lot of trouble to find me, even though the idiot seller had missed part of my address off the delivery label.
The most annoying thing is when you get a card saying, 'sorry, you weren't in' when you stayed in specially!


On the whole, I find the post Office pretty good, becasue they know the street and will leave things with neighbours etc, and the office, if I have to pick it up, is open long hours and is very close. But the couriers are dreadful - I've had books from Amazon left out in the rain, valuable computer thingies ("must be signed for" left on the front step, and all the problems of non-cooperation from deliverers who seem to believe its a privilege for me to be served at all. I agree, shocking. The best solution is great neighbours, and virulent complaints to the original supplier, as they alone can change who they use.

Another solution, whch may catch on in towns at least, are these things called shops, which suddenly seem to havemany advantages!!

Barbara MacLeod

I live in a suburb of Glasgow and, like Lindsay, on the whole have had no problems with the Royal Mail and the various UK couriers. I think it comes down to people, people, people. On one occasion I recall a van driver struggling (successfully) to figure out our street address because the sender had badly printed it. On the other hand, I recall one van driver at Glasgow University who simply chucked the mailbag behind a door on the Friday and it was there until he bothered himself to pick it up on the Monday.

Dark Puss

Shops, yes I make as much use of them as I can! Usually cheaper, often better and you can ask sensible people for advice on the spot. Of course I have the advantage of living in C.London, clearly "shops" are not going to work well if you want to buy a GTX 670 (for example) and you are not in one of the large cities. I often use the web to reserve an expensive item and then go and collect it in person.

Dark Puss

I note a number of people complaining particularly about Yodel. This is one of the distributors used by Amazon in the UK. Have a look at the Amazon UK discussion forums ...


I order cakes for my father regularly via Meg Rivers. Noting wrong with the cakes, they are delicious apparently, but the delivery service they use is consistently awful. Half the time the cakes never even show up, despite according the the delivery co anyway, confirmation that they have been delivered. Meg Rivers replaces them - but what a waste of time and money.
I would happily pay more for consistent and reliable delivery. But for what ever reason, these delivery companies just can't do the job.
It is so infuriating and disappointing to have to chase these things.


Our local postman is excellent, and knows just where to leave things if raining and we are out. He is very concientious. However, I work for a small mail order company, and we gave up using Royal Mail two years ago because of the number of parcels they lost, or delivered days too late (first class) and the perishable goods had deteriorated . We always replaced the goods, but very rarely were we able to claim for loss or delay from the post office. Rather like the 'telephone menu system' mentioned above, no matter how many forms were filled in, documents sent etc etc, invariably some obscure fault was found rendering the complaint null and void, or the whole claim was 'timed out'. We now use a carrier company, after a few false starts, who, on the whole are very good. We have an occasional problem, which they always endeavour to put right. Generally speaking, delivery companys are only as good as the people they have working for them. The whole business can be very frustrating.

Barbara MacLeod

And another thing ... (just to add to what Vivienne said) ... I was in a well-known large garden centre in our area yesterday. Many of the plants were dying, dead or damaged. In the hot spell in early June it was the same story. My heart sank! I couldn't help think about the people, the businesses, who have brought on these plants, had them put on pallets, and the paid for the them to be transported in big trucks up and down country etc etc.


I hope you were able to keep the item after all that palaver to get it! I sent an expensive breakable item really well wrapped and double boxed through Royal Mail. It arrived broken and I have no compensation as I shouldn't have sent something breakable apparently! The lady in the post office told me they always advise customers not to mark things as 'Fragile' as they suspect they get worse treatment!

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Please note

  • Sidebar book cover thumbnail pictures are affiliate links to Amazon, and the storefront links to Blackwell's and The Book Depository are also affiliated; should you purchase a book directly through those links, I will receive a small commission. Older posts may also contain affiliate links to one of those bookshops. I am not paid to produce content and all opinions are my own.


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