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Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Walls and bridges

Walls and Bridges is freelance writer Joel Meadows' new blog -- he's previously edited a comics magazine, Tripwire, and writes features on comics for a variety of publications, most recently The Times and The Observer. I've known Joel for many years -- he regulalrly reported on Marvel UK back in the days when it still existed.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

ParcelWorst (or ParcelFarce)

I've just sent an e-letter to Parcelforce regarding their appalling service in delivering a parcel to my work address. The parcel’s finally arrived, three days late, banged about and only now reached me because the driver “found it in the back of the van mixed up with other stuff”.

Sheesh!

Of course, they may well have delivered it now only because I’ve phoned no less than two depots to complain about its non-arrival, several times. Apparently (and this has to be one of the best excuses for incompetence yet) the regular delivery driver had cracked a rib, so he's off work, and some of the relief drivers didn't know where the company I work for was.

Peculiar, since they deliver stuff to us almost every morning. You’d expect Parcelforce, a division of the Post Office, to know the location of a business (albeit a new one) and certainly the location referred to in the postcode.

Using Parcelforce’s tracking site it seems the package has gone everywhere but Lancaster – even going to the Liverpool depot at one point – before arriving here.

Perhaps the most galling thing about all this is that I had to call no less than three 0870 numbers to try and get some human explanation for what had happened to the delivery.

Other than having used Parcelforce to deliver my goods, even if they do use an 0870 number, I can't fault Pet Supermarket who have been extremely polite and tried to help me out in explaining where the package is. (They realised I'd put the wrong postcode on my order, for example, and corrected the delivery address before giving it to Parcelforce).

Parcelforce on the other hand — or ParcelWorst, as I like to call them — beggar belief: an automated 0870 voice identification-driven system that took me over four minutes to get through to anyone in the Newcastle office and over eight minutes to reach someone in the Preston depot. That’s almost 15 minutes of national call rates at 8p a minute minimum to try and track something I had already paid for. Which doesn't sound a lot, but since I chased yesterday, too, the call costs quickly mount up.

Incredibly, Ofcom have only just started to act on the “mis-use” of 0870 numbers, despite beginning a consultation back in 2004. According to a statement on their web site it’s still going to take some 18 months before they actually do something. The changes are actually quite positive but goodness only knows why they're taking so long to bring in.

This isn't the first time I've had a bad experience with Parcelforce: they managed to almost loose a valuable and irreplaceable package I sent to the continent, so it was very irritating that they were proudly touting this service while waiting for a human to pick up the expensive phone.

Apparently, the regular Parcelforce driver’s going to be off for six weeks. He has my sympathy, but I don’t think I’ll be ordering much over the Internet for a while...

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