Yodel take the flak for broken ceramic poppies

By Dan Wilson November 27, 2014 - 1:38 pm

Yodel have been criticised by people who have bought ceramic poppies from the Tower of London because some of the items have arrived broken. The individual poppies, which collectively formed the artwork Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, each represented a death in the First World War. They have subsequently been sold for £25 each with some of the takings going to Services charities.

What’s not clear is quite how many of the poppies have been damaged in transit.

But it’s fair to say that it was inevitable that some of the poppies would break: nearly one million have been sold. And such was the inevitability that some of these ceramic poppies would be broken in transit, that I wonder if any of the poppies were kept back in contingency. (If not, I’d be astonished.)

Secondly, how good was the packaging? We all know that a parcel goes through the ringer in any system and it is always going to be bashed around. Some people have said it’s astonishing that the consignments didn’t have Fragile marked on the box or Fragile tape used. I don’t suppose that would make much difference. Acres of protective packaging is required and it would be good to know if it was done properly.

One eye catching incident was reported on the wireless this morning and also in the Daily Mail. It involved one delivery that was chucked 20ft over a front gate. The buyer recorded the incident on CCTV. Remarkably, the poppy was intact.

Yodel bashing is favourite sport for ecommerce SMEs: everyone has a story. But on this occasion I think reserving judgment until we know a bit more would be fair. Although, it is quite surprising they were chosen by Historic Royal Palaces for the job in the first place.

  • northumbrian
    3 years ago

    Fragile stickers dont protect inadequate packaging of items
    even so a fragile sticker should not be needed ,all parcels should be treat with respect and care not just those with a sticker,

  • 3 years ago

    Despite the inventive nature of the delivery over the fence, I think it’s a shame Yodel are getting all the blame. It’s obvious the items were not packed with due care and attention. Yes all packages should be handled with respect but these should have been well labelled with Fragile all over the place. They are just not replaceable and I too would be very interested to know who decided that Yodel was the appropriate courier. One contract I would love to have seen.

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      do you really think any delivery driver takes a blind bit of notice,
      of a Fragile label even if they can see it under all the other packages

    • 3 years ago

      I think I can probably answer how Yodel got the contract. It was almost certainly they got 3 quotes and Yodel’s was the cheapest. Quality, reputation etc was not in the equation. It was only done on cost.

      Tell you a funny story about this way back when I was right at the start of my career I was working for a Bureaucratic organisation and we required a building built. The designs had been drawn up and our technical people had evaluated it. The cost was estimated to be £x. We sent out the tender documents to all who asked for them. The quotes started to come in.

      They were opened and all of them were round about our estimate except one. It was about 10% of what our people had estimated. Our people decided to investigate. It turned out to be from a one man and a dog and oh yes a wheelbarrow type set-up. He had never built anything more complicated than a household garage and he specialised on garden sheds. So he was disqualified because he had not got the required expertise(the building was to include a lot of technical equipment) so it had to be right.

      No doubt the person who made the final decision on the poppy delivery contract was just working on cost and not quality of service.

      As to the value or otherwise of ‘Fragile’ on parcels. If it helps in only a small percentage of deliveries it hopefully saves a number of damaged or broken deliveries that have to be sorted out. I ALWAYS put Fragile on every single book I send out and my damage rate is very low(almost non existant) so I shall continue to do it. After all it costs a lot less than having to sort out a damaged book problem.

  • UlsterGooner
    3 years ago

    I sell ceramic mugs and post them in ‘smash proof ‘ boxes. One arrived broken and the customer was annoyed that it didn’t have fragile marked on it. Having worked for Royal Mail for many years, marking items with fragile or please do not bend can invite trouble.

    If it is going to be mishandled a fragile sticker won’t protect it, but it’s the customer’s perception that it should have been marked as such. Delivery drivers couldn’t care less, I’ll stick my foot through his wing mirror if I ever saw him mistreating my deliveries. It might dawn on him to start treating people’s property with respect.

  • Mark
    3 years ago

    Yodel have managed to ruin a hardback book sent to me.

    The book seemed to have been well packaged, however the packaging was very bashed and was ripped on one side (exposing the book). There was also water damage and the book was warped.

    It was delivered to a neighbours flat so it was not chucked over a fence, left outside or in a bin.

    I think the damage occurred in the Yodel sorting system (it was far more than an individual driver could manage).

    Good thing I ordered this Christmas present early as I have time to get a replacement.

  • Dom
    3 years ago

    I think many of the muppet Yodel drivers are being taken on by Amazon Logistics in their attempt to snatch the worst delivery company crown.

  • Janette johnson
    3 years ago

    Firstly, it’s not inevitable that some of the poppies have arrived broken. If, after hundreds of thousands of young men gave their lives for this country, something commemorating their sacrifice cannot be packaged and delivered with care and respect, then there is something seriously wrong with how this country has developed, but then we all know there is, don’t we.
    My poppy has just arrived broken, my neighbour ordered 4, 1 is ok the rest filthy dirty and 2 broken. That’s in two neighbouring villages in lincolnshire, so how many more across the country? We don’t want refunds or newly made replacements, we want what we ordered, a part of this years important commemorations, anything less is meaningless. Janette

    • 3 years ago


      How much was the postage charge?

      Sending nearly one million fragile ceramic poppies via any means will inevitably mean some are broken.

      The thing that may have changed is that in 21st century Britain is that some people want champagne service on a beer budget.

      Dan Wilson

    • 3 years ago

      I was unable to get to London to see the poppies in situ. However I saw various items on them when they were being installed, while they were in situ and then when they were being removed. At every stage they were handled with the greatest of respect and always with kid gloves.

      Then they started the delivery process to those that had bought them for £25 each. Now I do not know what the delivery charge was but it certainly does appear that nobody was really interested in getting them to the customers safely.

      It is certainly correct that it is just about impossible to deliver that many without some getting damaged. But what proportion of damaged is acceptable. Is 0.01%, 1%, 5%, 25%. I would be interested to know. After all we probably all know what percentage of damage we suffer with our delivery arrangements. In my case it is very very low but from the press reports it appears that Yodel are achieving possibly as many as 25% damaged. Please remember that every one represents the life of a brave man or woman who gave their lives for this country.

    • 3 years ago

      Yodel were not the people cleaning the poppies. Its not their fault some turned up dirty.

      Yodel were not the people packing the poppies. It’s not their fault some had missing petals.

      Some were broken on arrival but mysteriously some broken parts weren’t in the box…. yodel didn’t undo the box and remove the broken off chips. .. The people that packed them packed them broken.

      Yodel are getting a ton of grief they don’t deserve. Yes throwing a parcel over a gate isn’t acceptable but frankly they should have been packed well enough to survive a drop in the first place.

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      no doubt there will be other chances to buy a representation of some poor sods suffering, there are another 4 years of centenaries commemorating WW1 death and stupidity

  • JD
    3 years ago

    Reminds me, but on a far more serious level, of a previous well intended project where the perpetrators lacked the necessary breadth of experience.

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