Most of us shop online which means we’re receiving parcels and packages all the time. With around two billion parcels delivered every year in the UK, it would be a surprise if some didn’t go astray.
So I have a little sympathy for the parcel companies that come under attack for mucking up deliveries. It happens. But I have no sympathy with the companies that don’t put things right properly. There should be no need for readers to continually be forced to turn to us for help, but they do so in their droves – most of the complaints that come into this column are about deliveries.
This month I’ve rounded up some of the recent complaints about MyHermes, one of the biggest delivery companies.
First, there is RG of Poole. She sent a package of coats with Parcel2Go via MyHermes and took out extra insurance as the value of the parcel was £643. After it was collected, that was the last she heard of it.
“I contacted Parcel2Go and heard nothing back and contacted Hermes which said there is nothing it can do as it’s through a third party. I’m in total deadlock,” she told me.
After my intervention, she got a full refund of the £643. MyHermes said: “The parcel was ordered through a third party, which is why RG’s queries were referred back. She has now received full compensation and we have launched an investigation into how the item was lost.”
Next there is the case of SW of Grimsby. A parcel he sent on behalf of his nine-year-old grandson got lost. “I filled in the delivery failures form for the items, worth £152, and it only offered £20 plus the fee I paid,” he told me.
Sadly, he didn’t insure the item, so MyHermes was within its legal rights only to offer that paltry amount. But SW felt otherwise. “It is surely the responsibility of the courier to deliver? Why should I insure for its incompetence?”
I agree. As an analogy, imagine that when you went to a restaurant it demanded you take out insurance to cover the eventuality of the food being off or over-cooked. That would be a nonsense – if that did happen, the restaurant would take responsibility and offer you another meal or simply tear up the bill.
Delivery companies should take the same responsibility and not simply shrug their shoulders and blame the customer. But they don’t, which means anyone using a courier firm risks losing out if they don’t stump up for the extra insurance.
But there is good news in the case of SW. MyHermes has offered full compensation of £152 as a gesture of good will, while pointing out that “insurance cover in excess of the standard £20 we provide is available at extremely competitive rates”.
There was not such good news for MB of Westminster. He was sent a valuable design and memo sketchbook by a friend, but it never showed up.
“I’ve been given no help at all in tracking it down,” he told me. “I just want my sketchbook. It has years of work and it’s invaluable to me.”
MyHermes said: “Unfortunately, the sender put the incorrect delivery address on this parcel and, as a result, it has been lost. However, we accept that our communication has been below our normal standard in this case and, as a gesture of goodwill, have agreed to give a payment of £150.”
The compensation was grudgingly accepted by MB, as he only wanted his sketchbook back. But it serves as a warning to us all: don’t entrust items of personal value to delivery fi rms.
Finally – at the moment! – there is AH of Brierfield, Lancashire, who posted a package with MyHermes in mid-November. After it didn’t arrive on time he contacted the company, which told him it couldn’t find the package. Worried, he got in touch with Moneywise. While I was investigating, AH got back in touch with some good news: “The item actually turned up at its intended destination around four weeks late. It was damaged but usable.”
So, what happened? MyHermes couldn’t say. It said: “We would like to apologise to AH for the delay in his delivery and are pleased that it has now arrived. We have launched an investigation into what caused the issues.”
The company says in its defence of the errors: “Over 99% of the 300 million parcels we deliver each year arrive on time and without any problems. There are, however, exceptions and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused in these cases.”
Yes, there are exceptions, but the company should ensure that it deals with complaints speedily and fairly. It should not result in people feeling forced to turn to journalists for help.
OUTCOME: MyHermes hands back £945 to readers
Simon Read is a money writer and broadcaster. He was the last personal finance editor at The Independent and is an expert on BBC1’s Right On The Money.