Yodel Executive Chairman response to Ch4 Despatches Program

Dick Stead YodelFollowing last night’s Despatches expose of Yodel, one might have felt a little sympathy for Yodel Chief Executive Dick Stead as he stood up in front of hundreds of retailers and courier colleagues at the Metapack Delivery Conference.

I spoke to Dick just before he spoke and he was relishing the opportunity to speak. In his normal down to earth, frank and honest manner he addressed the program full on.

Yes, he said, there were some things the program portrayed which just shouldn’t happen. Dick assured the audience that the board were discussing what actions to take, which include making sure they have enough supervisors for each shift to make sure the ‘Pass the parcel’ game the program showed.

However Dick was quite unrepentant about how trailers are loaded with parcels, how parcels are dropped into cages and that with the best will in the world, sometimes parcels will be dropped, fall off a conveyor or some other less than optimal treatment. It is, said Dick, just the way that high volume couriers (all of them, not just Yodel) operate.

Dick pointed out that a courier can quite easily offer a solution where every parcel is carefully placed in a trailer and generally handled with kid gloves. In fact I’m aware that Yodel do wine and flower deliveries and these items are handled gently.

Avoiding each damaged parcel would cost £12,500

The truth is that there’s a cost to this, Dick says for Yodel this would translate to about 50p per parcel. He also pointed out that their average damaged parcel is one in every 20-25,000 parcels.

In basic business terms, the cost to avoid one damaged parcel would cost anything up to £12,500. Retailers don’t want to pay this. Consumers certainly don’t want to pay more for carriage, they want it for free. If no one is willing to pay £12,500 for each damaged item then we have to accept that they’re going to happen.

Dick also addressed the courier on 60p per parcel who could only deliver a handful per hour. Noting that when you go around followed by a camera crew it does tend to slow you down and deliver way less than the normal 10-20 parcels per hour that their couriers routinely deliver.

Having spoken to many people at today’s Delivery Conference the general consensus is that Yodel were somewhat unfairly portrayed. It’s almost like Despatches went looking for carnage in the expectation that Yodel would have a melt down like 2014 when they suspended collections for up to two days. That didn’t happen so they were left with a bit of rough (but normal) handling and a bit of horseplay which shouldn’t happen but undoubtedly occurs from time to time in just about every warehouse in the country when the boss isn’t looking.