On Monday night the UK’s Channel 4 Dispatches series aimed to reveal what really goes on behind closed doors at Yodel, one of Britain’s key players in the courier industry.
The company have built up a reputation over the years for corner-cutting and lacklustre service, leaving many customers feeling brokenhearted, but what exactly is it that has lead to this notoriety?
The problem seems to be partly thanks to poorly paid ‘lifestyle’ delivery drivers. Parcel rounds are either delivered to the homes of these drivers or transferred at an agreed location, before the driver uses his or her own vehicle and a scanner to make drops.
The pay for this, at 60p per parcel, works out at £18 per day. When you factor in the cost of fuel and (depending on how widespread the round is) the time needed to get from one delivery to the next, this seems a paltry reward.
No wonder then that these drivers have a reputation for merely popping the “sorry we missed you” slip through the letterbox and leaving the package on the doorstep without so much as a ring of the bell, to whiz onto the next property.
However the demand for free or low cost delivery these days is certainly high, and can be a deciding factor for a customer with the freedom to choose who they shop with. For retailers Yodel is providing delivery at an extremely low cost, which makes them attractive at first but often leads to corner cutting.
While there is simply no excuse for the throwing around of parcels depicted in the programme, it’s no wonder warehouse staff are unable to give the due care and attention required – time is money, as they say.
One area that Yodel came under scrutiny on that may not have been warranted was in regards to goods broken in transit. Any courier company or fulfilment house worth its salt knows that providing secure packaging adequate enough to get the item there in one piece is vital, however there is only so much that can be done.
Often, as in the case of the mugs that were used as an example, goods are already loosely and precariously packaged in their retail boxes – no amount of external wrapping would stop these items from moving around during the delivery process.
In cases such as this a balance needs to be struck between giving items to much or too little protection, and with the right materials, as a lack of physical space in vehicles and wasteful packaging are also factors for consideration.
One question that certainly needs to be asked is whether or not the misgivings shown in Channel 4’s programme are unique to this courier, or part of a wider problem in the race to provide very low cost delivery.
Many retailers are known for slightly higher delivery costs, but have a stellar reputation for getting the right items to the right place in one piece, first time, in a timely fashion. It remains true that a more premium service can only truly be achieved with a higher price tag than a budget courier would dare to charge in the current market.