Delivery expectations at Christmas need a healthy dose of pessimism

CourierWe’ve had a couple of emails land today with some courier related questions and the topics are worth a quick reminder in the run up to Christmas. Some people have overly optimistic expectations of when items may be delivered so it’s worth tempering with a touch of realism.

Is Saturday a working day?

Couriers don’t work weekends. With the exception of Royal Mail who always work Saturdays, the general delivery schedule for most UK carriers is Monday to Friday. This means that they will not be delivering parcels on Christmas Eve (which falls on a Saturday this year) unless you pay additional for Saturday delivery.

It’s quite usual at this time of year for couriers to work over time at weekends to ensure that they get parcels delivered. This is entirely discretionary and should not be relied on.

If you ship an item on Friday the 23rd December on a standard 24 hour service the courier is not likely to deliver it until Wednesday the 28th December, after the two additional Bank Holidays on Monday and Tuesday.

The only carrier scheduled to perform standard deliveries on Saturday the 24th December, Christmas Eve, is Royal Mail.

eBay shipping Estimates and Royal Mail

Today, Tuesday the 20th Decemeber, is the last recommended postage date for Royal Mail 2nd Class post, but sellers who have a one day handling time and so won’t post until tomorrow are still seeing eBay giving estimated delivery dates before Christmas, the 23rd.

There’s a disconnect here in that Royal Mail’s last postage date is “recommended”. Normally, Royal Mail say that you should expect delivery of 2nd Class post within two to three working days including Saturdays. eBay however don’t appear to be taking any notice of “recommended” last postage dates and in any case take an optimistic view that all 2nd Class items will be delivered in two days and that’s the estimate they present to buyers.

We would suggest that if you’re posting anything via Royal Mail after today that you ignore eBay’s optimism and take a pessimistic view, eat the costs, and upgrade the delivery to 1st Class.

Wednesday is the final “recommended” date for posting 1st Class items and again it’s likely that eBay will take their normal optimistic view and suggest to buyers anything posted on Friday will be delivered on Saturday. Again to avoid unhappy customers it would make sense to take a more realistic view and tell them up front they’re unlikely to see their purchase this side of Wednesday the 28th unless they upgrade to an expedited delivery service.