I have lost count of the number of blood-boilingly irritating battles I have had with incompetent delivery companies and poor customer service. I am painfully conscious I have become a middle-aged cliche and try very hard to control my fury when nobody takes our order for an hour and a half, or I get lied to about why my long-booked holiday has been cancelled.
My children HATE it when I ask to see the manager, or write to the school to (politely) enquirer why my dyslexic son is yet to receive the learning enrichment sessions he was promised six months ago. I am not, however, going to apologise for questioning a waiter who has brought my son’s hamburger in what is clearly an egg soaked brioche bun, despite me telling them he had an anaphlyactic allergy to egg.
I hasten to add I am never rude, I don’t yell or shout – I am crisp and factual and say things like ‘I’m sure you can understand my frustration’, or ‘this has made me feel quite cross’ without actually BEING cross if you see what I mean.
Also what is really annoying is that if something goes wrong my entire family all look over at me, patiently waiting for me to kick up a fuss and get things sorted on their behalf. Son isn’t so embarrassed if I’m chasing up his fricking ketchup order.
Oh leave it to Mum, she’ll sort stuff out. We’ll just sit here looking down at the table, pretending we don’t know her while she tries to avoid having to jab her child with an epi pen in the middle of Gourmet Burger.
The good news is it’s half term. Woo hoo! The bad news is we arrive back at our lovely house in the middle of nowhere, joyfully noticing the sun flooding in through newly washed windows and make the mistake of looking at the comments in the visitors’ book.
I work in a school where my job requires me to live in over term time. To prevent our house being left empty all that time we rent it out as a holiday let. It has been closed for the past year as Rob built a new kitchen and we had a new loo/shower room installed and a lovely new twin bedroom.
Last year was tremendously hard, mostly financially as the builders ended up costing double their original budget, and Rob – who suffers chronic depression made worse by losing his father – was on his knees having spent every weekend for a year designing and building our gorgeous new kitchen.
We left the house at the end of the Easter holidays absolutely gleaming. The oven had been professionally cleaned, all the lovely, freshly ironed, bed linen lay crisp and even, all Dog’s hair had been removed and the kitchen, in particular, looked like something from the Houzz website.
‘The guests are going to love this’, I thought, laying out the wine, M&S Lemon drizzle cake, top quality crisps, tea, coffee and milk in the welcome pack. ‘Hope they leave a nice review…’
Well they didn’t. The comment made the following points.
- The main bedroom needed TLC and curtains were shabby (it’s a shabby chic bedroom)
- The garden furniture was rusty. (If they looked more closely they would see the rust was painted on. It was like that when we bought it. It was an (I see now ill-advised and rather late to the party) attempt to join the shabby chic wagon)
- They couldn’t work the key safe
- The BBQ was stored against a wooden wall
- There was a willow warbler right next to their window, which they found very annoying.
Why oh why didn’t they mention the lovely new shower room? The gorgeous reclaimed-oak lined kitchen? The new, very beautiful wood burning stove with attached pizza oven?
What really got me was how much it winded Rob. He hates having to let the place out as it is, but to have such a negative review was heartbreaking.
Of course, it’s fine for guests to highlight problems, but for fuck’s sake, why not chuck in a few positives? I mean, what can be wrong with an M&S lemon drizzle cake? The peak of human endeavour? They didn’t even mention it. They ate it though.
Which bring me onto my rage topic of the day.
DPD – the delivery company
Yesterday, when we arrived at the house not only had the guests written a nasty review, they’d also ruined a bed throw with some revolting brown substance. This threw me into a panic as the house was being photographed in two days by a professional photographer for the website advert.
‘We have to have a bed throw to match the cushions for the pictures!’ I yelled at Rob. ‘What are we going to do?’
His response, as I am sure is yours, was a mystified shrug. OK. I know it’s not a big deal, but I’m very tired at the moment, and I want the bed to look nice for the pictures.
We were in the middle of nowhere and a trip to the right shop would take hours, and I couldn’t really justify the petrol and cost to the environment just because I wanted the bedroom to look pretty in the photographs.
So I turned to my trusty old friend. John Lewis. They’d see me right.
And they did. A beautiful new throw in exactly the right colour. Here it is
And it had next day delivery! Result! I knew I could trust John Lewis, they’ve never let me down. Last year they delivered an emergency double sofa bed 24 hours after I ordered it. Not only was it in a ravishing turquoise, it was a third of the original price. The delivery men were lovely, arrived on time, were friendly and chatty, unwrapped the sofa and melted away taking away all the packaging .
Unfortunately I didn’t realise, as I merrily clicked ‘pay extra for next day delivery’, that they would be using DPD.
Argh! DPD. I have come across them before when ordering from Amazon. In my dealings with them they have done the following at least once if not multiple times
- Said there was no-one to take the parcel. This despite the address being a security gate manned 24/7. (This has happened a lot)
- Left a ‘sorry we missed you’ card through the door without knocking. I watched it flutter to the ground and raced to the door to open it but the (struggling to think of a word without swearing here) ‘gentleman’ had already squealed away in his van
- Reported they couldn’t find the place. I had left a comment saying call this mob number if you can’t find the place but they didn’t call it.
- Watched a delivery guy in his van writing out a ‘sorry we missed you card’ when he hadn’t even come through the gate. This time I managed to get to him before he drove away and nabbed the parcel from him.
So if I realised John Lewis were using DPD I would have thought twice about paying for the next day delivery charge.
However, all seemed to be going well. I received my hour slot, and was told ‘Zhivko’ would be delivering my order. Lovely.
Half an hour in I had a look on the ‘track my order’ link and discovered a photograph of my front gate (about a hundred yards away from where I was sitting) with the words
What? How the… What? Who?
My heart started to pound. I needed that parcel today! Why is he saying we refused delivery? What about my lovely photo?
Yes, yes I KNOW this is petty and nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I wanted to match the cushions and have a lovely picture for the website. I am aware this is the very definition of privilege and first world problems, but tell that to my adrenaline levels and sense of outrage.
I think what got me is the lie. How the hell could I refuse the delivery? He didn’t come to the front door! Why would I refuse a parcel I had paid a lot to have delivered that day?
So I called up John Lewis and spoke to a very sympathetic woman who kept me on hold while she called the DPD Maidstone delivery depot. She got back to me to say the driver had reported he couldn’t open the gate because it was locked. (Not that we had refused delivery, which is what he put on the ticket).
This is our gate. It is very, very old and wooden. It will swing open if you tap it. It is impossible to lock
So I responded by saying, ‘have a look at the photo the delivery man took of the gate to prove he was there. Can you see a lock?’
No she couldn’t, said the lovely John Lewis lady. (Interestingly, that photo immediately disappeared from the DPD tracking link page after this call)
John Lewis lady got back to me to say the manager of the Maidstone DPD depot had spoken to the delivery man and he was going to come back now with the parcel.
Great! All sorted.
I thanked her and sent Rob down to the gate to make sure it was open so the Delivery man would be able to come through it.
An hour later. No sign.
I called John Lewis back. They called DPD again. This time, another lovely customer service from John Lewis reported the manager at the depot had spoken to the driver but this time I discover the driver had flatly refused to bring the parcel back, despite the manager insisting he did so. The driver argued that a group of people had told him nobody of my name lived at that address.
What people!? We are in the middle of nowhere! Another lie. The John Lewis rep said she had noted an increasing number of complaints from customers about DPD’s service
John Lewis then advised that they were going to put me straight through to the DPD complaints department. I was amused to hear a recorded message from DPD before I was put through saying ‘we know you may be angry, frustrated and upset, but please don’t rant at our service team. No excuse for abuse.’
It must say something that they have upset, frustrated and annoyed so many of their customers that they have to have that as a recorded message. Perhaps they should look into their customer service so customers DON’T GET UPSET, FRUSTRATED OR ANGRY!
Anyway, I was finally put through, and the DPD’s complaints rep was good: professional, calm, and appreciative of how annoying all this was. She was at a loss to explain why the driver was able to refuse to return with my parcel when the manager had told him to do so.
She then mentioned time pressure, bank holiday yada yada. I did – in my mildest of voices – enquire why it was decided my parcel was not delivered so others could be delivered on time – but of course there was no answer.
So the upshot is I didn’t get my lovely John Lewis next day order. OK. Fine. It’s not the end of the world. But I HATE being lied to. Don’t say the parcel was refused because you can’t be arsed to walk up the path to the house. Don’t them keep coming up with more lies, blaming me, when all I did was sit in my house and wait for a delivery.
DPD needs to stop this. Bearing in mind how unfair I felt the review of our cottage was I am conscious I need to be tolerant here and recognise the humanity of it all (not that the guest awarded me thee same courtesy but still…) I don’t want to only see the negatives.
I am struggling to find the positives, I must be honest. I have absolutely NO problem with John Lewis. They have, as ever, been professional, courteous and helpful. Also, the customer complaint woman at DPD was without fault.
I’m also sure Zhivko is a perfectly nice young man and is not one to lie as he did. I suspect DPD is putting their drivers under tremendous pressure to meet deadlines and their conditions and pay are sacrificed if they don’t meet their targets.
The answer is then DON’T PROMISE NEXT DAY DELIVERY IF A) YOU CAN’T DO IT AND B) IF YOU CAN ONLY DO IT BY FORCING YOUR DELIVERY DRIVERS TO LIE TO EVERYONE!
I would advise John Lewis to disassociate themselves from DPD until they get their act together. The biggest complaints I have read about DPD is the annoyance customers feel when drivers lie to say nobody was in, or they couldn’t find it, or delivery was refused. I am sure these drivers are nice people – why are they being put in this position? Are they responding to intolerable and unreasonable performance targets? I suspect that to be the case.
So I am still waiting for my lovely bed spread, and the pictures on my holiday cottages website won’t show the pulled-together shades of blue scheme I have worked so hard to achieve.
Still, at least Dog is happy and Son and I had a lovely hour in the fields yesterday in the sun. Here is a video of happier times.