Delivery expectations at Christmas need a healthy dose of pessimism

By Chris Dawson December 20, 2016 - 3:49 pm

We’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.

  • JD
    9 months ago

    ‘…. itโ€™s likely that eBay will take their normal optimistic view and suggest to buyers anything posted on Friday will be delivered on Saturday ….’

    Actually they are very unlikely to do that. eBay never quote Saturday as a Royal Mail delivery day even though for Royal Mail it is (except for SD items without Sat. guarantee).

    Nonetheless eBay are not over helpful to buyers.
    eBay are now quoting Friday 23rd – Weds 28th on my listings for 1st class with 2 day handling – ie posted 1st class Thursday even though items would be posted after the recommended last posting for delivery by Saturday. In practice anything bought today will go out tomorrow (Wednesday) and from midnight tonight the handling will be adjusted to 3 days.

    Happy Christmas.

    • Chris
      9 months ago

      Do you change your dispatch time (number of days) then?

    • JD
      9 months ago

      Exactly. I bulk edit the despatch (handling) time from my current 2 days to 3 days for the holiday period. Gives me flexibility without actually shutting down.

      Of course with handling times of 2/3 days TRS discounts do not apply but as I don’t do free postage on individual items I don’t get that anyway!

  • SAM
    9 months ago

    All year we advertise 1 day dispatch and all at least 1st class, except in lead up to Christmas, We simple move it up to 2 day dispatch, but still provide the same service. This is realistic, we can see how long it is actually taking with RMG 1st class signed, plus it give customers a genuine timescale. Plus we shut down on Monday afternoon till late Christmas Eve.
    The only site that mislead are actually eBay themselves, others are 1-3 days.

  • Stephen
    9 months ago

    90% of messages this week have been “I ordered 4 days ago and my item has not arrived – please can you refund” – 1, you ordered by 2nd class post and 2, its a week before Christmas, 3, 4 days ago was Saturday at 6pm looking at your order…

    Forget drones we need Star Trek Transporters to do deliveries…

    • 9 months ago

      Same here, except with the additional accusations of “are you certain you have posted my item?” or “other items I’ve ordered elsewhere on the same day have arrived but not the items from you…what’s going on!?”

      I just give proof of postage, politely point out delays occur in the post all the time and this increases towards Xmas, thank them for their patience and understanding and hope the postie drops it off soon.

      But if I had a Star Trek Transporter option that meant I could arrive in front of them, give them a slap in the face with a large wet fish before vanishing again…I’d be tempted, sometimes ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Customer services: Delivered politely through gritted teeth!

  • Gary Scott
    9 months ago

    It’s not just eBay who are over optimistic, I’m having major issues with iPost who advertise and take payment for 1-2 days to Italy and 3-4 days. In reality the 1-2 days is more like 3-4 days and 3-4 days are about a week. I am factoring in weekends but how long will the courier companies get away with telling untruths about the service they offer.

    Their poor service has cost me money as a customer in Italy used the AtoZ even though I provided tracking – Amazon stated that my item didn’t arrive in time!

    • james
      9 months ago

      you’re promising 2-day delivery to Italy?
      that was never gonna happen.

  • JD
    9 months ago

    We put free 2nd class postage on our items but we ship 1st class in times like this to make any impact on the post dates a minimum

  • Shay
    9 months ago

    I orders some clothing from JD on the Sunday morning and I was wondering if you no when the clothing will most probably been dipatched and delivered to my home , SHAY!!

  • JD
    9 months ago

    But which JD did you order from?

    The original JD posted the first comment to this thread and a later reply. The most recent comment is just from an imposter.

    Anything ordered from me on Christmas Day would have been posted 28th December first class. But then I don’t sell clothing.

  • AndyP
    9 months ago

    I thought eBay were meant to be extending their ship estimates over Christmas? Nobody told the eBay optimism dept.

    I have just had a case opened by a guy in Spain who has not received his packet that was ordered evening of Tuesday 20th. I posted Wednesday 21st by Airmail. eBay’s expected delivery dates …….Sunday, 25. Dec. 2016 – Thursday, 29. Dec. 2016

    How many Spanish postmen were working Christmas Day do we think?

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