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Are we pandering to the whim of the consumer too much?

By Chris Dawson June 19, 2017 - 10:57 am

Citizens Advice have released a report suggesting that 7 out of 10 online shoppers have had a delivery problem in the past year. Whilst 94% of us are happy saying we get a satisfactory or high quality of service, a significant number have the odd inconvenient delivery.

Some of the excuses are fairly valid, such as the 38% who claim that a parcel arrived late (that’s one parcel in a year… not every parcel!), but others such as the 25% whinging that they “had to stay at home when inconvenient to receive the parcel” are less so, especially when combined with complaints of parcels left with neighbours or “insecure locations but not stolen”.

The 21% who complain a parcel hasn’t arrived (one parcel in a year) seems relatively high as does the 11% who received a damaged parcel each year.

I can’t help thinking that the report has gone out of their way to ensure that everyone questioned had at least one excuse to claim they had a parcel delivery problem in the last year. What after all is a problem for you might not be for me. For instance I frequently have parcels left in insecure locations and they’re not stolen and I don’t see that as an issue. It’s much preferable to going to a far flung industrial estate to hunt down a courier depot.

Of course as retailers we are responsible for getting the parcel to the consumer (or leaving it with their nominated neighbour or safe (or unsafe) place if requested). But are consumers who buy online and then expect parcels to be personally delivered into their hands, even when they’ve gone to the beach for the day, expecting too much?

Of course anything is possible, redelivery at the time slot of your choosing is already available but services that offer this have to budget for it which means paying more and doubtless a redelivery enables Citizens Advice to claim a late delivery so the retailer still can’t win!

Obviously giving the consumer choice helps to alleviate delivery complaints but should we be that worried? Rather tellingly towards the report it details the impact of parcel delivery problems on the consumer – 25% stated that the so called delivery problem did not have any impact. If there was no impact was it a problem in the first place?

How far should we go to pander to the whims of the consumer and, if they’re not willing to pay more, should consumers stop complaining about things that don’t really matter and accept that if they want to shop online their parcel will either be left somewhere or they will have to wait in until it arrives?

  • james
    6 days ago

    Yes, yes, yes, and probably yes.

    I’ve said it before on practically every stupid survey result that gets posted here.
    “97% of customers said they want parcels hand-delivered by glowing angels”.
    well, tough. join the real world and manage your expectations, or be disappointed.

    i dont know how many people genuinely believe that time travel and matter teleportation are technologies currently in use, but as soon as they buy on ebay, they’re fully expected.

    the people who carry out these surveys are either completely detached from reality, or deliberately skewing the figures to suit whoever financed the survey.
    they provide no actionable insight, in fact they’re often damaging if one doesn’t take them with a pinch of salt. or a bucket of salt.

    the amount of people i get complaining about having to stay at home, then in the same breath, complain they couldnt possibly have missed the parcel because they never leave home. it’s like being stupid and dishonest is a meritable quality when you shop online these days.

    “How to reduce the number of consumer problems: ​Failed deliveries
    could be reduced by investing in community pick-up points and requiring
    every new-build home to have a parcel locker” – this week has demonstrated horrificly that they’re not willing to legislate for sprinklers in high rise flats, or even that homes be “fit for human habitation”, but they’ll legislate for parcel lockers because some numpty can’t be in their own home with a dozen email and text reminders in advance? sure…

    5% of people found the delivery driver displeasing or unpleasant. there’s no frame of referece here. i find at least 10% of the people i meet are displeasing or unpleasant, does that mean delivery drivers are twice as nice as everyone else? how should i action that revelation?

    perhaps if they used some intelligence, and tried to figure out what people want, rather than just being a platform to cry as much as possible, they may be more productive.
    ask a customer “do you want next day shipping” the answer is yes.
    actually offer next day shipping, at the price it costs, the answer is no.
    so do customers actually want next day shipping? only if it’s free, and like everything else in life, it’s not.

    if you go convinving people they can have their cake and eat it, and get a refund for the cake and another cake too, then yeah, you’re going to get some delusional results.

    do customers want to pick up an item from a convenient high street location? apparently not, or they wouldnt be complaining about online shipping, they’d be going into a shop and avoiding delivery issues altogether.

    what people really, really want, is for everything to be someone else’s problem.

  • Mark Hetherington
    6 days ago

    I agree 100% but I blame platforms like ebay and the big companies for raising expectations too much. We have ebays’ stupid “estimated delivery time” as a classic example. It seems that the entire buying population of ebay don’t have a clue what the word “estimate” means, and even when you explain it to them, nice and politely of course despite their snotty attitude with you, they still don’t get it insisting that “it should have been here by now “even just a couple of days after dispatch. Will they pay any extra for 1st Class or Next day though? Nope, not even at my subsidised rates.

    It always winds me up how they try to come across all knowledgeable about how the delivery system should work yet seem oblivious to how pathetic and ignorant they really are when explaining that “nothing they ever ordered before was late”. I probably feel it more than most because I’m from the days when you had to post off a cheque, wait for it to clear, then “Allow 28 days for delivery”. Can you imagine any of the current generation coping with that?

    I’ve always believed though that if your carrier says you have to wait 15 working days following the date of expected delivery (Royal Mail’s terms) before you can place a claim with them then buyers should be subject to the same terms and ebay should be advising them of the fact. Why should a buyer be allowed to claim earlier than the carrier’s terms state a claim can be made? Never quite got my head around that one.

    • james
      5 days ago

      “I’ve had 300 succesful deliveries and not a single issue!”
      well your feedback only reads 229, and you’ve left half a dozen negatives for non delivery in the past 6 months….

  • Chris McC
    5 days ago

    The average person doesn’t bother or have time to fill in a survey so I wouldn’t expect a normal or average response from them

  • Tom
    5 days ago

    We had an AtoZ claim recently. Customer was claiming that we provided a lack of service as she didn’t have her parcel by Sunday when the Amazon estimate was Monday at the latest.

    1. Customer ordered on Wednesday afternoon.
    2. Courier attempted delivery Thursday morning but customer not in.
    3. Courier attempted delivery again Friday morning but customer not in.
    4. Courier leave parcel at local shop for collection on Saturday.

    At every stage of the process, DPD would have emailed and text messaged the customer with delivery slot and options.

    Customers expect far too much these days but are unwilling to pay for anything. Something has got to give.

    • Mark Hetherington
      5 days ago

      Yes, agree 100%. Ignorant idiots many of them. I don’t understand for the life of me how it can be the seller’s fault when an item is delayed or goes missing (unless they haven’t posted it of course but why would you not post it?).

      How people can come up with such moronic comments beggars belief but it’s not as if it’s a rare occurrence, it happens almost every time an item is delayed.

      Sick and tired of the stroppy attitude most of them have too. I sometimes wish I had a bricks and mortar shop so I could throw them out, that’s what would happen if they threw a strop in most shops where they have security staff.

  • northumbrian
    5 days ago

    what piddles us off most , is the feedback comment
    ” item is great, though box was damaged or the bag was ripped in the post,
    packaging could have been better ?????
    FFS how could it have been better, it gave its life so the product could survive
    the tight fisted sods wont stump up for better packaging though

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