ParcelnetI've written before about our troubles with Royal Mail/Parcelfarce. So when I got home yesterday to find a 'sorry we missed you' card on the doormat, I thought I could look forward to a few days of arguing with automated telephone lines, sitting on hold to the depot, and having at least one redelivery request ignored before finally managing to collect my Amazon purchases (the next three Aubrey-Maturin novels) on Tuesday or so.
When I got upstairs, however, I realised that the card wasn't from Royal Mail, but from a company I'd never heard of called Parcelnet. It gave a local number to ring for redelivery. I called it expecting to be greeted by a computer; instead, I got through to someone's house.
'Erm ... hello,' I said to the elderly woman who answered the phone. 'Sorry to trouble you, but someone wrote this number on a card ...'
'Oh yes,' she said. 'He won't be able to redeliver until tomorrow now; is that all right?'
Tomorrow? As in Saturday? 'Yes, that's fine.'
She had a quick discussion with someone else in the room. 'Will you be home in the morning?'
'Yes, we should be.'
'He'll be there before 11.'
And shortly after 10 this morning, a cheerful man who looked spookily like Patrick O'Brian arrived with my books.
I couldn't find out much about Parcelnet from their amateurish website, but from other sources I learned that the company employs local people to work part-time making deliveries in their area. As Pete Ashton explains:
Parcelnet, on the other hand, employ mothers with large cars. I know this because I worked at one of their depots for a few days. Deliveries for the local area are split up by postcode and in the morning a bunch of normal looking people arrive in their normal looking cars and pick them up. I imagine they're parents with kids in school looking to earn a bit of part time cash. Drop the kids off, pick up the parcels, deliver them, pick the kids up.
Or, as in our case, the couriers are retirees looking to supplement their pensions.
I'm very happy with the service we got, but it doesn't say much for Royal Mail that Amazon thinks its parcels can be delivered more effectively by a company using a slightly more sophisticated version of the paper round.