The rise of e-commerce brought with it a rise in home delivery, and last year it was reported that the UK parcel market had a value of almost £10 billion. The delivery sector is currently dominated by Royal Mail, Hermes, and Yodel, and it’s not just retailers that are causing this influx of packages to be sent around the country. More consumers are also choosing to return unwanted items via mail, and even sell goods on online platforms like eBay.
However, as we become more reliant on delivery companies, the complaints against them are also stacking up. Last year, it was reported that an estimated 38% of people had a parcel arrive late, including 16% who paid for a premium delivery service. In addition to this, one in 10 shoppers admitted to receiving damaged items. These less-than-ideal figures might be why many retailers and shoppers are opting to choose courier companies over traditional delivery firms. In some cases, this is the safer option. But customers should think carefully about which courier service they use before they make a decision.
Couriers can be more secure than traditional mail delivery
Courier services are considered more secure than traditional mail delivery systems. Using a courier guarantees delivery by a specific date and time, and often includes accurate tracking information from collection to destination. Some of the most secure services are actually handled by couriers at security firms. CMS Keyholding, for example, has every package delivered by an SIA-trained guard, whose primary goal is to maintain security.
Traditional mail companies, however, are considered to be less reliable, thanks to the number of complaints customers make about the poor service. Delivery tends to be cheaper, but takes longer, and packages are likely to be handled by a number of different drivers, increasing the chances of goods being lost or damaged. Private courier/local independent companies were ranked amongst the best delivery systems last year, in a consumer study by Which?, beating Royal Mail’s regular post as well as the premium ‘signed for’ service.
Secure courier companies also have speedier delivery times, thanks to having a dedicated courier delivering your item rather than filtering packages through a delivery system. This is ideal for sending high-value goods, as well as international deliveries. Sending packages abroad may even work out cheaper in the long run, as private courier companies will be able to take each country’s customs procedure into consideration, as opposed to traditional delivery companies, which simply send packages abroad and leave recipients to deal with any custom charges that may arise.
High value goods can also benefit from having better insurance cover for packages, as part of the more premium service offered by secure couriers. Royal Mail currently offers compensation cover of up to £750 on its special next day delivery, with the option to increase for an additional fee. However, secure courier companies will include insurance in the standard price, as well as tracking information.
Carefully research into each courier company before booking
While courier companies offer many benefits to customers, there are some with awful track records. Delivery corporations, such as DPD and Yodel, charge much less than competitors to gain more business. However, both were ranked the worst in the Which? consumer survey on couriers. These companies are often less secure when handling items, and may even use automated machines to sort through mail, which could damage smaller items placed in envelopes, such as necklaces or earrings, if they are not packaged securely enough.
Many delivery companies pay their drivers per delivery, giving less incentive to ensure a package has been delivered securely to the correct destination. The internet is littered with reports of parcels not arriving, or even with some delivery companies forging customer signatures. While many customers will accept a package being left with a neighbour, this may not always be ideal. In fact, one customer was left empty-handed when Yodel ended up leaving a £250 vintage guitar in the bin, and then claimed the driver had left it with a neighbour.
More secure delivery companies offer customers a delivery window of just a few hours on the morning of the scheduled delivery date. This allows customers to plan their day accordingly, rather than having to stay in all day to wait for a delivery, which is a pain many people can relate to.
While delivery and courier companies are convenient, they can also add stress in the form of delivery speed. In some cases this can’t be avoided, such as during extreme weather conditions, or when sending parcels abroad. If you are sending packages via mail, it’s best to check customer reviews before picking a company to handle delivery. However, it may be worth paying a little extra for a secure courier service for the added peace of mind.