Saturday, October 01, 2005


I'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.


At 8:41 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These companies only operate because they employ 'cheap labour'.

No pensions to pay or sick pay. The staff use their own vehicles at mainly their own expense. Only interested in corporate business, not joe public. So where would you go to post a letter or parcel if Royal Mail has gone bust!

At 10:38 am, Blogger Laura Brown said...

Royal Mail was far from going bust last time I checked.

You're right that Parcelnet relies on cheap labour. All companies use the cheapest labour they can get away with. As I explained in the post, they seem to employ people who already have a source of income, so I doubt their policies on sick pay and pension harm anyone. Their way of working also places limits on what they can do; if they started taking in the same amount of business as Royal Mail, they would most likely not be able to find enough casual workers to handle it and would be forced to start paying proper salaries, expenses and benefits.

As for only caring about business: Last time I rang Royal Mail to complain about a magazine getting lost, I was told I should get the magazine's publisher to complain instead, because they would only act on a complaint if they thought they risked losing a business customer!


Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home