It seems that the higher ups at Parcel2Go agree with our suggestions. George from Parcel2Go left a comment (below) offering to look into the matter.
* * *
Parcel2Go have agreed to redeliver the books with a premium service, and provide some free account credit too – London shall have its books after all! This is a great response
The books arrived! They came via TNTs overnight service. It looks like this must be an exception to Parcel2Go’s service, because they sorted the issue brilliantly.
Why is it so difficult to find a delivery company who give you something that resembles acceptable service?
I recently sent a box of Prometheus Initiative books from one house to another, with the intention of giving them away somewhere in London. I sent it over the Xmas period, and so I wasn’t too surprised when a couple of weeks later they hadn’t arrived (it was also a slow-but-cheap service, which took a few weeks to deliver when I’ve used it in the past.)
So I was surprised when two weeks later, the parcel turned up… at the address I sent it from. According to their website, they had tried to deliver it twice and “left a card” for me. No cards had ever been left. After speaking to City Link, they told me that the driver had probably run out of cards twice in a row, and left, like a ninja, without a trace.
That’s a dumb enough mistake to make. Little scraps of paper don’t take up much space in a van, so you might think they have the foresight to have at least as many scraps of paper as they do parcels to deliver. It gets worse though: after speaking to City Link, they told me I had to contact Parcel2Go, who are some sort of reseller of delivery services whom I paid for the City Link delivery. Parcel2Go told me that City Link intentionally understock the delivery cards, by only giving the driver a certain amount per day. They do this because their customers have nothing better to do than visit a tracking page every day for each parcel they are expecting. This is my conversation with Parcel2Go:
Samantha: Welcome to Parcel2go.com online. How may I help you today?
Roberto Sarrionandia: Hello. I booked a parcel through citylink with you, and they didn’t deliver it. They said that they tried a few times, but that every time they tried the driver must have run out of cards!
Roberto Sarrionandia: The parcel has been returned to the address I sent it from, and they seem unwilling to redeliver it. They said I have to go through you guys to get it sorted
Samantha: Do you have your order reference number to hand? It will begin with P2G and be followed by 7 digits. For example, P2G1234567. It can be found on the confirmation e-mail.
Roberto Sarrionandia: P2G*******
Samantha: Thank you
Samantha: Okay the delivery was attempted twice and held for 7days before being returned
Roberto Sarrionandia: That’s right, but I didn’t know anything about it because they didn’t ever leave a card
Samantha: Okay we have a photograph of the door
Samantha: For this to be sent out a new delivery will have to be made
Roberto Sarrionandia: Yeah they told me that. What is the significance of a photo of the door?
Samantha: This is just to show they have been to the address
Roberto Sarrionandia: That’s right, I know they were there, but the person from Citylink told me they ran out of cards each time and so they didn’t leave one.
Roberto Sarrionandia: This means that I didn’t know they were trying to deliver it
Samantha: Unfortunately to have this redelivered a new booking will have to be made
Roberto Sarrionandia: Do you understand my issue with this approach? I’ve paid for something to be delivered, and the courier didn’t fulfill that service.
Samantha: Yes but this was held for 7 days without any contact and this is the reason we provide tracking numbers for customers
Roberto Sarrionandia: The delivery process is fairly straightforward, they come to the house and if they aren’t able to deliver, they leave a card so that you know to arrange redelivery. It doesn’t usually involve checking a website every day on the off chance that the driver would fail to do it multiple times in a row.
Samantha: Yes but unfortunately if the courier has run out of cards they are unable to leave one I am afraid
Roberto Sarrionandia: That much is clear. The issue is that they shouldn’t run out of cards, it’s a pretty ridiculous mistake to make, multiple times, right?
Samantha: Unfortunately they are only given a set amount a day I am afraid
Roberto Sarrionandia: And that set amount doesn’t match the number of parcels they have to deliver?
Samantha: And we do provide tracking numbers for you to contact us
Roberto Sarrionandia: So they *intentionally* don’t bring enough cards?
Samantha: They attempted twice and this was shown on tracking and also held
Roberto Sarrionandia: I don’t think we’re getting anywhere here. My issue is this: I paid for it to be delivered, not to have to chase up the courier every day just in case they have a policy of deliberately under-stocking cards.
Samantha: I do apologise but unfortunately to have this recollected a new booking will need to be made
This seems implausible – paper isn’t in short supply, and I’ve never before found it necessary to know I’m expecting a parcel in order to receive one – but the outcome is that I’ll have to pay for the delivery service again, and refresh the tracking page for a few weeks on the off chance that the courier company can’t count scraps of paper.
As annoying as this is, even though it is a small amount of money, it’s a nice opportunity to reflect on what can go wrong when businesses interact with customers. Some take home points:
- Show empathy: If the customer walks away feeling like you were never really concerned about their situation, you have irrevocably damaged your relationship.
- Don’t be a robot: As tempting as it is to be uncontroversial, repeating facts or policies which are ultimately irrelevant to the customers situation doesn’t really convey any useful information. If you’re unable to explain why you hold a particular policy, don’t use it as a justification for doing something the customer doesn’t like.
- Don’t try to bamboozle: Saying things like “We have a photo of the door” isn’t going to fool anybody. It isn’t evidence of anything except your unwillingness to help.
- Always try to correct bad processes: There is nothing more annoying than a broken system that isn’t being fixed. Under stocking delivery cards is such an easy mistake to correct, but nobody from City Link or Parcel2Go were in the slightest bit concerned about correcting it.
- Use mistakes as opportunities: When the display on my Amazon Kindle broke the returns process was so fantastic that Amazon cemented themselves as my favourite retailer for electronics by a long margin. When my Macbook developed a defect, the repair experience from Apple was so efficient that next time I buy a product from them, I won’t think twice before taking out Apple Care again. Both Amazon and Apple managed to turn a bad experience into a selling point.