Saturday, 17 September 2011

When Mail Order Goes Wrong - and Then Right

Knitwits Yarns

Sending out wool to the 4 corners of the globe is always fun and it gives us all a certain "frisson" if it's going somewhere exotic and exciting. But sometimes it's the most innocuous of locations which cause all the trouble ...........

Back at the end of August we received a big order from Southern Ireland - County Tipperary to be precise. It was for over £100 of wool, which is a big order in anyone's books and turned into quite a big parcel. Off it went, via Parcelforce, and we thought no more of it.

About a week later the customer emailed to say she hadn't received her parcel. We advised her to wait a little more and let us know if it still didn't come. A week later she phoned - to add to her woe she had ordered a small package from Cornwall and it had arrived within 24 hours - her parcel from us was nowhere to be seen. At this point I went to our local Post Office and was advised that they don't start to trace parcels until they're 20 working days late, which would take us to somewhere near the end of the month (what with the Bank Holiday and all).

Just before we went to France - on the 19th, so within the 20 day rule, I dug out the postal receipt from my files (sometimes there are advantages to being anal about filing accounts) and emailed Parcelforce with the bar code of the parcel. The 19th was a Friday and on the Monday morning I received a reply to say that the parcel was being returned to us due to "wrong address".

I then contacted the customer who confirmed the address was 100% correct and we even looked it up on Google Earth and confirmed its existence!

The very helpful people at Parcelforce International then explained that the delivery men/women/people have tick boxes and "wrong address" could mean that they weren't able to find the house. Southern Ireland doesn't have street names of postcodes so this is, evidently, a very, very common problem. She recommended that we put the recipient's telephone number of the outside of the package when it was re-sent so the delivery person could phone our customer and find out where the heck she was/is.

I then went to France and left it all with Tracey.

Came back from France 10 days later and still no sign of the parcel. Tracey had been frantically ringing the sorting office in Plymouth (as recommended by Penzance Post Office) but had no joy.

I then get back on to Parcelforce International (Ellie) and Parcelforce Plymouth (Brian) and it was then discovered that the parcel - and this is the bit that no-one can fathom - was returned to the Post Office it had been sent from, not to us. Dear Myran and Jackie at the Post Office (we know them well) knew all about the parcel arriving on their doorstep with Mr Parcelforce delivery man and immediately sent it right back as they knew the address was 100% correct.

Ellie then tracked the parcel to Ireland and, lo, it was revealed that - once again - the parcel had been returned as "wrong address". At this point I may have sworn, yelled and even cried a little.

Ellie (what a star) immediately contacted Ireland as the parcel hadn't yet made it's way across the Irish Sea (there was a debate going on about who was going to pay for its onward journey this time) - and stopped it leaving Ireland. She gave them the customer's phone number and, finally, finally, finally, it was delivered on September 12th!!!

There are two things I've learnt from this saga:

1) Always put the recipient's phone number on the outside of parcels being sent to Southern Ireland and,

2) Even in huge, faceless organisations like Parcelforce there are individuals who are helpful and willing and friendly and kind who will (and do) go the extra mile to ensure the job is done. Thank you to Ellie and Brian and all the others who ensured this saga had a happy ending.

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