Parcel Farce

Posted by on May 8, 2010 in Observations, rants | 13 Comments

I ordered a replacement WiFi router the other day, from eBuyer. Earlier on this week I got a card through the door saying that Parcelforce had tried to deliver it.

On the Parcelforce website, I found that I could re-arrange delivery to a local Post Office, and pick it up from there. So, I did that, arranging to pick the parcel up from the local Cotham Hill Post Office this morning.

And it was at the Post Office that things started to go downhill. First off, I gave them the card, and they disclaimed all knowledge of me. Then I showed them the printed bit of the website confirmation, and they had an actual look for my parcel. They didn’t find it. Then they looked on the computer, and the computer told them it was there. Then they looked again, and dragged out a big box, which was apparently my parcel.

Okay. It looked big for a wireless router, but eBuyer sometimes send the smallest of things in larger boxes. It looked a bit heavy, too, though. “Are you sure that’s the one?” I asked through the glass.

Yes,” said the lady, and read me out a postcode that wasn’t mine.

No,” I said, “That’s not my postcode.”

Royal York Crescent?” she asked.

No,” I said.

Oh,” she said. “Well, it’s got your name on the label here.” And she read out my postcode from a different label.

How heavy is that?” I asked.

She hefted the parcel. “Three or four kilos?” Hmm. A bit heavy for a router, even a good quality one. Even a good quality one which came with a free computer. “Look,” she said, “Do you want it, or not? It’s got your name on it?”

But I don’t think it’s mine.”

Well, you’ll have to ask Parcelforce.”

Oh, the joys of the separation of the Post Office into little bits that never bloody take responsibility for each other.

So, I take delivery of this parcel, which, when I get it home, appears to be addressed to a Frenchman, living around the corner, and seems to have come from France. I open it up. Inside is… Something which is definitely not a wireless router.


I suppose the “Genuine Porche Parts” tape that it was sealed with should have been a bit of a clue. It certainly looked like a bit of a car. I found a part number on one of this matched pair of hefty steel pipes, and looked it up on the internet.

The first hit was a Polish eBay auction, which was selling a pair of things that looked exactly the same.

Yes, definitely not a wireless router. In fact, a matched pair of Porche Cayenne tailpipes. The auction had reached €360, more than £300. So, Parcelforce and the Post Office had given me someone else’s goods, and they were worth six times the value of the little thing I was expecting.

If I was a bad person, this might have ended right there. Auction them on eBay, order another router, and I’d have a router and £250 change. Nice work if you can get it.

I phoned Parcelforce. They told me my parcel had been delivered to Cotham Hill Post Office. I told them what had happened. They looked up the French parcel’s tracking number. “That’s still at Bristol depot.” I doubted it. I reckon that’s was where my parcel was. “Yes, you’re probably right. I’ll put you through to them.”

I got through to the Bristol depot. The person at head office hadn’t bothered explaining why he’d put me through, so I had to go through the story again, which took about five minutes. “Right,” said the woman on the phone. “I’ll go and look for that parcel, and I’ll call you back.” I read out my phone number to her, she read it back to make sure she’d definitely got it right. “I’ll call you right back,” she reassured me.

That was at about 11am this morning. This afternoon, I headed out to lunch with my friend Tara, and on the way back, I called in at Royal York Cresent. There was nobody at the house on the parcel’s label. I went and had a coffee in Boston Tea Party around the corner, and as I was drinking it, a Porche Cayenne drove past. “There can’t be too many of those around here,” I thought to myself.

Still nobody there, though, when I went back. So I headed back to my car, got in, and was just about to drive off when that Porche Cayenne pulled up outside the garage belonging to the house I’d just been to.

Excuse me!” I called from down the street. Not much response, but then it turned out “Excusez-moi!” might have been a better approach, because yes, it was indeed a French family, and the older man of the party immediately recognised the Porche Cayenne exhaust pipes I had in the box I was carrying. “Aaaaah!”

Communication was slightly problematic; even with two people with matching native languages it’s not an easy explanation. Still, it transpired that Monsieur Boulais did not have my wireless router, sadly. But those were definitely his tailpipes.

I got home, and called the Bristol Depot back at about half past three. They were shut. They’d been shut since half past twelve.

I phoned up Parcelforce’s main number again, navigating through the irritating menu system until I found a button to push if you wanted to make a complaint. Apparently they were experiencing a high volume of calls, which doesn’t exactly surprise me.

Finally I got through. A northern woman with no interest in anybody else’s problems took my call. “No, they’re closed now,” she said.

I know that, I’ve just phoned them. Well, what can you do?”

I can give you their number, so you can phone them first thing on Monday morning.”

Sigh. “Well, how do I make a complaint?”

I can give you the address to write to.”

Yes, that figures. You wouldn’t want to make it easy for your customers to complain, would you, Parcelforce, or presumably you’d have to employ even more people who were shit at phoning customers back or listening to anything they’re told… No, instead you have a complaints option on the phone system that puts you through to someone who tells you to write to a certain PO Box number. That’s far more effective customer service.

So, here I am, using my old wireless router still, because my shiny new router is in Parcelforce’s Bristol depot. Maybe. And possibly now addressed to a Frenchman. Even though I’ve paid money to have it delivered to a local Post Office and gone out of my way to collect it. Personally, I seem to be a far more effective courier than Parcelforce, what with being able to read labels, and doing Saturday deliveries directly to the hands of the intended recipient. I’ll even handle complaints by email, or on the phone.

So, with “my” parcel delivered to a slightly bemused, but very happy Monsieur Boulais, I wonder how much confusion it’s going to cause when I phone up the Bristol depot on Monday morning and see if I can get them to find my parcel. I wonder if I’ll ever get my delivery.

In summary, Parcelforce, you suck. You suck at everything, from delivery to security to communication to complaint handling. You fail to care on every level, you fail to call people back, and you are intensely indifferent to your customers and their problems. I will be avoiding you wherever possible in future. I’m so annoyed right now that I’m tempted to try starting a multi-million pound mail-order delivery firm simply so I can avoid giving you my delivery contract.

And that is, so far, my story of trying to get something delivered to me by Parcelforce. If you’ve tripped over this blog entry trying to find out what Parcelforce’s customer service is like, I hope very much that you read it in time not to touch them with a barge-pole.

« Normal Service Will Be Resumed | I Has Made a Web Site »


  1. Stuart Woodward
    May 9, 2010

    I was just searching Twitter for ParcelForce after a package that I sent from Japan to my sister in Scotland was stuck at the Post Office and she hadn’t had a delivery card to say they had even tried to deliver it.

    In the last day alone the following words were used in Tweets about them: certifiable morons, pricks, arsefholefarce, parcelfarce, load of shite

    I totally agree with your summary, but unfortunately in sending from abroad to the UK business gets diverted their way..

  2. Pete F
    May 9, 2010

    ParcelFarce are only slightly above the Home NonDelivery Network for crapness. I actually now avoid buying from sites which use either of them for delivery.

  3. Kavey
    May 9, 2010

    You suck at everything, from delivery to security to communication to complaint handling. You fail to care on every level, you fail to call people back, and you are intensely indifferent to your customers and their problems.”

    You have completely summed up my feelings about the farce that is Royal Mail and Parcel Force. Even in today’s society of poor service and fuck you attitudes, RM and PF are shocking in their incompetence and lack of concern about said incompetence. Shocking.

  4. Christoph Lombard
    June 22, 2010

    Importing from the USA to the UK: my experience of the USPS, UK Customs, Parcelforce triangle

    1. To track your USPS parcel, click here USPS TRACKING
    2. Enter your tracking number, for example CP xxxxx US
    3. My parcel entered UK customs on the 15’th of June 2010 and stopped moving. “Into Foreign Customs, June 15, 2010, 11:12 am, GREAT BRITAIN”
    4. I waited till 22 June and then decided to do my own enquiries. I quickly got a few pointers off the net and the next step seemed to be to convert the USPS tracking number to a Parcelforce number.
    5. Click here PARCELFORCE TRACKING. Remember to tick “Incoming International Parcel?” and enter your USPS number (CP xxx US)
    6. The Parcelforce tracking number you receive will be something along the lines of EC xxxx GB
    7. In my case, the Parcelforce site confirmed the USPS site: “AWAITING CUSTOMS CHARGING”
    8. It’s a bit of a drag phoning Customs on +442476212860 – expect it to be engaged – so have a coffee in hand whilst you just keep on pressing the redial button . I got through in under 5 minutes and didn’t have to sit and listen to an irritating tune while the meter is running. I had to dial them more than once – simply to verify Parcelforce’s excuses – but more on that later. Have your Parcelforce ECxxxxGB number ready because that’s what you will be asked for almost immediately by the friendly customs lady. Surprise! Customs released the parcel at 14:53 on 16 June already – she could even tell me how much I had to pay – but that had to happen through Parcelforce – of course.
    9. I immediately phoned Parcelforce with the happy news that they have one happy customer with money to burn immediately: +4408448004466 ☺. But no, it was not to be ☹ — welcome to the Parcelforce runaround…”Sorry sir, the parcel must be stuck in a trailer at customs “the apologetic lady explained. “So why say sorry if it’s not Parcelforce’s fault?”, I obligingly enquired. ”As a matter of courtesy, Sir” she quickly responded”
    10. Mmm…so the customs lady was not so helpful, after all? Back to sipping my coffee and pressing the now familiar customs redial button. Once again, less than 5 minutes, and the same friendly customs lady, still just as helpful. And it was clear that Parcelforce itself has a backlog – not customs. She even gave me the Parcelforce MD number: +441908687249 where it was confirmed that yes indeed, it’s stuck somewhere in a Parcelforce trailer because of a backlog and yes, the customer service’s lady’s knowledge needs to be updated…she did in fact appologise on Parcelforce’s behalf to begin with.
    11. So, am I any better off? No, as far as getting the parcel to move on, I failed. Yes, at least I know where the holdup is, that I’ll have to fork out another GBP8,00 for the privelage of not being updated and having to waste time and money for a very poor service. And at least I can help you save time if ever you’re faced with the same problem

  5. rach
    September 8, 2010

    Parcelforce.…. Pffft! never using them again, my partner is in the british forces based overseas, sent him a parcel containing something very expensive. When i was at my local post office they told me i could track and trace this item with the tracking number they gave me, when i try to track it on both post office and parcelforce it wont let me, i have to keep asking my partner if has recieved it yet and still nothing. it has been over 6 weeks since i sent it. Try calling them and nothing!! just a good job i insured it before sending it ey!! but i will have hell to play if he does not receieve it at all

  6. Welshie
    December 22, 2010

    Parcel Force — wankers! Apparently, their Express 24 delivery service means waiting for 6 days, well Im well into my 6th day of waiting anyway and I found out that my parcel not only started in Coventry then went down to London which is ironic considering I live in North Wales.

    When they finally switched on their Tom Tom’s, I see that my parcel is now stuck in Deeside Depot which it will no doubt stay until after Christmas. You pay for the 1 day delivery service to make sure you get it in time for Christmas, when really yould be bloody lucky if you do!

    Ive had 2 items from China take less time, a dvd from the Isle of Wight and a letter from Canada all come within the same time frame but something witin my own country and Im asking for a fecking miracle,

    Parcel Force’s answer — snow. Well, the parcel managed to circumnavigate the M1 and M6 in the last 24 hours without a hitch and the delivery I wanted should of arrived prior to the mad weather.

    Bastards, the lot of them.

  7. Paul
    December 24, 2010

    Having the same issues with ParcelFarce.

    23-12-2010 00:54 National Hub Secure parcel tracked out of hub

    Not sure what that means. Stuck somewhere outside of the hub maybe. Wish I’d paid for the DHL delivery now. :(

  8. Alan
    December 29, 2010

    I ordered a Laptop from ebuyer for an xmas present for my wife. 2 weeks before Christmas I was informed by ebuyer it would arrive on 26/11/10 it never arrived. I contacted ebuyer through their fantastic enote system (don’t get me started there either) and requested the delivery date. They told me that it had been delivered by parcel force and sent me to their website for confirmation of delivery. On the pf website it had been signed for by someone, but certainly not me. 

    I phoned pf and they said they would phone me back, they did two days later after I had sen them an email complaining. The guy told me they had problems with the driver because he had been leaving packages without a signature, but assured me he did not do this any more! I said I had been in all day but no one except the regular postman had been to my house and it certainly was not my signature on the web site form. They said they would check with the driver again, still waiting and it is now 29th December. ebuyer just keep sending me enotes and ask me another question each time.

    The moral of this story is don’t use PARCELFARCE or any company who uses them. I have told ebuyer this and I for one will vote with my feet.

    Bah humbug!

    • Adrian
      December 30, 2010

      I have finally resorted to e‑mailing the CEO of Royal Mail and I am sending her daily updates. My tale (short version) is as follows.

      A fan was posted to me on 10 December, Express 24. Twenty days on, although it has, allegedly, been put out for delivery no less than nine times it has not yet managed to cover the 18 miles from Charlton depot to my home. e‑mails may get a response, days later but they are just full of platitudes. A phone call, if you are lucky will get you into a queue, but only after PF have told you about 100 times what a wonderful company they are. However, if you spend too long in the queue, you get told they are to busy and get cut-off.

      To cap it all, yesterday, they removed all the previous tracking information and when the parcel sender managed to contact them they denied it had been out for delivery prior to yesterday and basically called him a liar. Sadly I have a second parcel coming Express 24 despatched yesterday but of course it hasn’t arrived.

      I too will, in future, also check which courier a company is using and if its this bunch of wasters I will buy elsewhere.

      May Royal Mail and Parcel Farce go bust soon and do us all a favour.

  9. Adrian
    December 31, 2010

    Today around mid-morning a Parcel Farce manager/supervisor turned up in his car with my parcel and profuse apologies. Shortly afterwards a senior PF manager phoned me to apologise again and said that Moya Greene CEO of Royal Mail had been on to them as a result of my e‑mails.

    I still think their service is crap if you have to go to such lengths but
    it got some action, and at least the CEO was willing to do something.

  10. Dan Lawrence
    February 16, 2011

    That is just brilliant, haha. You have an excellent witty style of writing and really enjoyed reading — well not enjoying your woes of course — but the style was interesting to read.

    I’ve had very similar problems with multiple delivery companies. DPD delivery seems to be best for me, but hardly any companies offer the service or option to not use Royal Mail or Parcelforce!

  11. Richard Chamberlain
    October 3, 2011

    This is in reply to Christoph Lombard’s entry above.

    The telephone number +442476212860 is no longer in use. Instead you get a message telling you that there is a new telephone number to call — 08456004781. Oh yes the nice helpful lady in the message tells you that HM Customs can help you on this new number, but what she fails to tell you is, the option most of us will need — eg Option 1, trying to ascertain what is happening to their parcel is absolutely useless. Because on choosing that option you get a bored bloke telling you they cannot help with tracking or paying your customs charges — please phone Parcelfore- on the dreaded 0844 number — the one where you get the run around from useless overpaid arseholes that are not in the least interested in providing “Customer Service”!!!!!!

    I know this because I have tried several times in the last few days to ascertain why my parcel from the USA is still stuck in Customs at Coventry — “Awaiting customs clearance”!! None of the HM Customs telephone numbers available to members of the public can put you in touch with any of the front line personnel dealing with your parcel. Whereas if you telephone DHL, an agent can speak to a Customs person dealing with your item,the same cannot be said for Parcelfarce!! Their “Customer Service” agents have had special training in how to obfuscate, prevaricate and down right lie to anyone having the temerity to call them and disturb then having their tait-a-tait with their colleagues!

    I’m still trying to find a number that will allow me to talk to someone who is willing to help me find out why my parcel is stuck in Coventry Customs. If I succeed I will post it here, but don’t hold your breath waiting.

  12. Don Johnstone
    October 28, 2011

    Ebuyer e‑mail saying item shipped.Check ‘tracking’ info and parcel due for delivery today between 7am and 7pm.No parcel,check ‘tracking??????’ and no info on delivery.Is this a real company or a couple of guys with a bike and a laptop.A whole day wasted waiting on a non-existant delivery.Do I wait in for the next few days for a delivery that may or may not come.Please please e‑buyer dump these cowboys and just give your business back to a professional company.Cittylink could track my parcel perfectly,these clowns have no idea.