Wednesday 11 February 2015

delivery man...

I can’t decide whether this is a “middle-class problem” or a “problem our grandparents never had” (or both)… but Amazon keep trying to deliver me packages and my neighbours have started refusing to take them. I don’t blame my neighbours at all: it must be a real pain in the arse to always have delivery drivers knocking on your door to take parcels for people who are never at home during the day, particularly if you have a young child and then face the prospect of someone else knocking on your door to pick up the parcel just as you’re putting your kids to bed. I don’t think their refusal is specifically about the number of packages they take for me (which isn’t actually very many), but the fact that they have people knocking on their doors all the time just because they happen to be at home during the day. That’s rubbish. Actually, I don’t much like knocking on my neighbour’s doors to pick up a parcel either, especially if it’s somewhere off down the other end of the street. It’s great to have your delivery, but it’s a bit awkward and I always feel a bit of an imposition. In fact, I’d far rather use the Collect+ point at the garage round the corner.

The problem is that the (white van) delivery drivers that Amazon are increasingly using are apparently paid by the package and don’t get paid for revisits (or for their fuel), so they are incentivised to do everything that they can to make sure that, one way or another, the delivery is made first time. I trying to take delivery of a £5 replacement jug for my cafetiere (now, there’s a middle-class problem if ever there was one: I’ve broken the glass jug on the coffee press I use at work to make my fresh, artisanal, home-ground cup of coffee in the morning). It’s not especially valuable, but it won’t go through my letter-box and now I keep getting text messages saying that the item is out for delivery, knowing that I’m going to come home to a card saying that they couldn’t complete the delivery and will try again tomorrow, when I still won’t be in and my neighbours still won’t want to take delivery and will be a bit crosser for being asked again.

I like Amazon and I think my Prime membership is becoming more and more valuable to me, as much for the excellent on-demand video service as for the free next day delivery. But the value of that free next day delivery service is significantly undermined if their fleet of white van drivers isn’t up to the standard of one of the better couriers (I like the texting service DPD offer that lets you choose the delivery day that best suits you, but many of the couriers are crap, I grant you). Yes, I can nominate a safe-place for the driver to leave my package without bothering anyone, but I always forget to add that during the checkout process, and that’s hardly the ideal solution either if you’re getting something delivered that you don’t really want leaving in the garden

We’re buying more and more stuff online now, and we still haven’t really solved this most basic of problems, have we?

(All that said, the guy -- Shyam K -- on amazon customer service who I chatted with last night was super helpful, so credit where credit is due. Their customer service – especially their largely quibble and hassle free returns process – is tremendous and puts other, less *ahem* tax efficient companies to shame)


  1. Currently my brother is staying with us, and is freelancing from home while he looks for a permanent job, so he's able to receive any packages that are delivered (if he hears the door bell).

    Before he came to stay with us, we would have valuable items (the iMac he ordered to arrive before he moved in with us, for example) shipped to my wife's office. My workplace isn't really feasible for that, due to the fact that they're a luxury retailer, and their shipping department would have a cow if I had something personal shipped to me here.

  2. My work has a huge postal department, and although you *could* get something sent to them, I think it's sometimes a bit of a lottery for that thing ever to reach you, and thus not really worth the risk.

  3. I've refused, no declined, to take in parcels for my neighbours, not only because I don't especially like them but more because they leave coming to collect for upto two weeks, suggesting that their parcel is less important than our inconvenience. Petty, but satisfying.

  4. As I said, honeysuckle, I don't blame my neighbours at all. As it happens, we don't get that many parcels, and the two that the courier said refused this one haven't taken any for us, as far as I can remember..... but it must get so annoying. It's a broken model and we need to find a better way!
    As for not picking them up.... well, if I take a parcel, I'll often go and drop it round so it's not hanging around in our front hall!

  5. You're just so much nicer than we are!