Many customers have expressed frustration over online orders which have been damaged in transit.
With millions of Britons still stuck in lockdown, they are relying on the postal system to receive and send items they can currently no longer purchase in shops.
This has led to numerous complaints from customers about fragile purchases arriving damaged – and in some cases completely destroyed.
But it’s not just customers receiving the goods damaged getting annoyed with delivery firms – one business owner believes that ‘all major couriers are terrible’.
Some customers have complained their deliveries have been completely smashed in transit
Stephen Finch, founder of London-based Vagabond Wines, told This is Money: ‘The unfortunate, inescapable reality is all major couriers are terrible. Specified collection/delivery time slots are treated an optional.
‘Proof of delivery is the opposite of rigorous. And it’s maddening how rarely they admit when they’ve made an obvious mistake.
‘The sheer volume of time it takes to pursue a claim means most people don’t.
He adds: ‘And, for whatever reason, all major couriers have a policy which basically states “we’re not liable for any alcohol products lost or damaged in transit”.
‘What is it about wine or beer that justifies them to carry virtual flashing red lights screaming “steal me, no consequences”.’
Stephen Finch, founder of Vagabond Wines, says that couriers are ‘all terrible’
His strong words come as Vagabond say around four per cent of their recent orders have been lost or broken.
It added there nothing it can do insurance wise to cover for these losses and it has to suck up the cost itself and replace the missing items.
Finch added: ‘We use packaging specially developed for the post, so sending wine by courier should be a doddle by comparison.
‘If we treated our customers like the major courier companies do, we’d be out of business. That simple.
‘The only reason these companies continue to exist is a massive barrier to competitor entry — it takes gobs of capital to build up the necessary scale of service to become a viable courier option.
‘Hence we’re stuck with an oligopoly and the horrendous customer service that inevitably comes with it.’
Stephen’s comments also come after one of his loyal customers, Michael Marsden, encountered an issue with DPD after it only delivered two out of eight wine bottles he ordered from Vagabond Wines.
Initially, after the first two bottles arrived, he assumed that the next six would be coming in a separate delivery.
However, upon querying this with DPD, the delivery company, it claimed that the other six bottles had been broken in transit.
It didn’t offer Michael any apology or explanation for the breakage and, frustratingly, the firm was initially unable to provide evidence of the damage, which made Michael understandably suspicious.
After Michael contacted Vagabond, the wine seller replaced the six bottles at no additional charge.
It said it had to sign a ‘no liability’ agreement with DPD that says the delivery company are not responsible for costs should anything break.
DPD even had to approve the packaging Vagabond used before it took on the contract.
This is Money contacted DPD who looked into the issue and said the contract with DPD Local is only for the delivery of single bottles of wine, in approved packaging.
Michael was finally sent this photo of the broken bottle of wine due to be delivered
After speaking to the courier, it provided Michael with an image of a broken bottle of wine. However, this was an image of just one bottle and not the six due to be delivered.
A DPD spokesperson said: ‘The two consignments were made up of two bottles and six bottles and were therefore in unapproved packaging.
‘DPD followed standard procedure on discovering the consignment of six bottles was damaged, by returning the goods immediately to the shipper with full photographic evidence.
‘While we have processes in place to settle this with our customer, it is the shipper’s responsibility to communicate with their customer and arrange a refund or a replacement product, in line with their agreement with DPD Local.’
DPD said it is commonplace for wine or liquid customers to have this kind of agreement in place as it can only guarantee safe transit for agreed goods, in fully approved packaging.
It added it delivers 10,000 wine boxes each week with the vast majority experiencing no issues at all.
If goods aren’t presented exactly as agreed or correctly packaged, it said it increases the chances of something like this happening.
Crystal vase smashed in transit
Similarly, Claire Gallacher, has vented her annoyance after sending a Swarovski crystal vase, originally bought for £376, to a buyer on eBay.
She spoke to the Post Office before sending the item, which was securely packed and fastened, about the best service to send it by.
The vase that Claire sent arrived to her buyer completely smashed, despite the packaging
Claire said: ‘I had a few dealings with different staff over a few trips, buying bubble wrap, parcel tape and a suitable box.
‘They recommended Express 24 or Express 48 as this would cover me for up to £100 worth of damage.’
She decided to send the vase via Parcelforce’s Express 48 delivery service, which promises to safely deliver parcels within two working days, at a cost of £13.14.
Whilst at the Post Office she ensured to put on fragile stickers and reiterated to the staff that this was an easily breakable item.
However, a couple of days later that, although the vase had arrived, it had done so in multiple pieces.
She proceeded to complain to Parcelforce who said the service that she used didn’t cover glass breakages despite being advised by its staff otherwise.
Claire has since appealed but has been told that she will not be eligible for a refund.
A Parcelforce Worldwide spokesperson said: ‘We have looked again at this case.
‘Items susceptible to damage including glass can be sent via Parcelforce Worldwide but they are listed as items excluded from compensation for loss and damage.
‘However, since it would appear that the customer did not receive the correct advice from the Post Office at the time of posting, we will be liaising with the Post Office customer care team to pay compensation to the customer.’
While Claire is happy that she may be entitled to some compensation, she is still disappointed that the vase was smashed in the first place and that Parcelforce would not take responsibility for the damage.
Claire and Michael are not the only two to complain about their delivery service.
There are a number of frustrated customers who have also taken to social media to complain about the poor service from delivery drivers from different services – many from wine merchants who have sent out bottles that were smashed en route.
This independent wine magazine said it had spoken to sellers whose wine had been destroyed
Another wine seller said couriers had reported breakages but the bottles were not returned
Disappointing: A customer said his wine delivery arrived completely smashed when en route
What to do if you’ve received damaged goods
If you have received damaged goods in the post, the first thing to do is to tell the retailer you purchased the items from.
This is because, according to the Consumer Rights Act, the retailer is responsible for remedying the situation, even if the item was damaged by your courier.
Give evidence of the damaged goods when contacting your retailer including attaching pictures and noting what time it was delivered. Ensure you contact them as soon as possible after the delivery takes place.
You should be entitled to a repair, refund or replacement.
If the retailer asks you to return the items before they issue a refund, get confirmation that your parcel will be insured against any further damage that could occur.
Under the Consumer Rights Act, the seller must pay for returning goods that are faulty or damaged.
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Fund tech revolution, Bank chief tells Chancellor
Britain’s top economist has called on the Government to spearhead a tech revolution for millions of firms, creating a ‘faster and smarter’ economy as the country fights its way back from the Covid-19 crisis.
Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane – writing in his capacity as chairman of the Industrial Strategy Council – said a new blueprint must be drawn up with a raft of measures, including tax incentives and access to finance to feed an ‘appetite’ among firms to adopt new technology.
The surprise intervention – in a joint document prepared for The Mail on Sunday by Haldane and former John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield – comes just weeks ahead of an expected Spending Review by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Plea: Andy Haldane is calling on Rishi Sunak to draft a new blueprint for the economy
It is unusual for a senior official who also holds a high-ranking position at the Bank of England to make such broad-reaching policy recommendations.
Haldane, who sits on the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, and Mayfield want small and medium-sized companies to urgently adopt or update software across key areas such as accounting, HR, customer relationship management and marketing.
The paper says the economic recovery in July was ‘further and faster than anyone expected’ after the collapse in the second quarter.
But the writers say it is vital to seize ‘the opportunities, as well as the obvious challenges, of Covid’ and ‘technologically upgrade our businesses and our economy’.
UK business has been a ‘laggard’ in adopting new technology despite playing ‘a leading role’ in developing it, the paper says. ‘That is particularly true among the smaller and mid-sized businesses which employ nearly two thirds of people working in the UK. This explains why, despite rapid innovation, aggregate productivity among UK companies has flat lined for more than a decade.’ Haldane and Mayfield add: ‘Technology adoption needs to be at the heart of industrial policy. Levelling up the UK’s companies, through improved tech adoption, is an essential element of levelling up our regions.’
The paper – which the MoS has made available in full at thisismoney.co.uk – calls for ‘incentives for companies to make the right investment choices’ and to make it easier for them ‘to access finance to fund this investment’.
It also calls for support through advice shared by large corporations with smaller firms, through local ‘tech hubs’ and online. A survey of 500 small and medium firms released alongside the paper reveals one in eight are using systems more than a decade old and another third using systems six to ten years old. A third said they have acquired technology that has barely been used.
But the paper says the Covid crisis has presented a major opportunity because ‘rapid and radical technological adoption has been essential to the survival of many firms’.
Mayfield chairs Be The Business, a Government-backed organisation set up to solve Britain’s sluggish productivity largely by encouraging wider use of technology.
Its research has revealed adoption of new technology among businesses rose four times faster during the crisis than it did for the entirety of 2019. In many cases, firms were forced to act as they switched to working from home. Mayfield said last night: ‘Business technology has not kept pace with consumer technology. It’s not just about Zoom and it’s not about AI and advanced technology.
‘It’s about wider adoption of pretty well-established tools that have been proven to improve growth of businesses that use them – accounting and HR software, CRM [customer relationship management] systems, online trading, export tools and really getting to grips with social media and marketing.’
But there had been resistance in the past from firms fearful of the disruption that implementing new technology can cause. ‘It’s hard work and it’s difficult,’ he said.
Referring to John Lewis’s experiences implementing new IT systems since 2014, Mayfield said: ‘I have the scars on my back from a well-resourced business that has found tech adoption difficult. It costs a lot, took longer than planned and at the end of it all the benefits weren’t quite as clear as they were at the beginning.’
‘But I’ve no doubt we did the right thing. If we hadn’t, the business would be in a far worse position than if it hadn’t,’ added Mayfield, who left John Lewis earlier this year.
He said Be The Business was piloting ‘tech adoption labs’ across the country and large companies had offered ‘chief technology officers on demand’ to help firms cope.
‘We’ve got the template, we’ve got the playbook, we’ve got Britain’s best businesses and access to expertise – Cisco, Openreach, Amazon, Google. We are asking the Government to make this a priority for rebuilding the UK.’
He added: ‘Eat Out to Help Out has had a pretty dramatic impact on restaurants. What we need is a similar message for business leaders, something along the lines of ‘Tech Up to Grow Out’. It should become a fundamental part of the recovery.’
HOW DO GOVERNMENTS AND BUSINESSES ENSURE BOUNCE-BACK CONTINUES?
By Andy Haldane, chair of the Industrial Strategy Council, and Sir Charlie Mayfield, chair of Be The Business
UK GDP had, by July, recovered around half of its Covid-related losses, rebounding further and faster than anyone expected. That’s the good news. The bad is that the economy remains 12 per cent smaller than at the start of the year. So how do Governments and businesses ensure this bounce-back continues and that the opportunities, as well as the obvious challenges, of Covid are seized?
A large part of the answer lies in improving levels of technology adoption among businesses. While the UK plays a leading role in developing new technology and innovation, it is a laggard when it comes to its wider adoption across companies. That is particularly true among the smaller and mid-sized businesses which employ nearly two thirds of people working in the UK. This explains why, despite rapid innovation, aggregate productivity among UK companies has flat-lined for more than a decade.
Yet, for all its challenges, Covid has shown what is possible on this front. With their normal business models disrupted so significantly, rapid and radical technological adoption has been essential to the survival of many firms. Even among the more mature aspects of technology, such as e-commerce, the pace of adoption has been rapid. Data from Be the Business shows tech adoption was four times faster during the crisis than the whole of 2019.
It is good news that many more businesses now have the appetite and experience to upgrade their technologies. The less good news is that many of the barriers to that wider adoption are long-standing and remain deep-seated. Understanding those barriers, and removing them, is crucial if the benefits of technology – for productivity, skills and jobs across every region – are to be unleashed.
Be the Business, with support from McKinsey, has just completed the largest-ever study of these barriers and opportunities to widespread adoption of technologies. Some of these blockages sit in firms themselves, through a lack of information or appetite for change. Others exist among the suppliers of technology, in particular to smaller companies. Both the demand and supply sides need fixing, at source and at speed, if the opportunity is to be seized.
To do so, we believe three things are essential.
First, businesses need access to independent advice and resources to guide them towards the right technology choices. At present, in particular for smaller companies, this is daunting. There are mountains of information and training available on how to use specific software and tools. But there is no one-stop-shop for this information and no clear guidance to help businesses understand what kit would best meet their needs – until now.
On the new website, Be the Business Digital, businesses have all the answers they need. It is full of real world experience of business leaders who have learnt the hard way about tech adoption – where they went wrong, why they persevered, and what it did for their businesses. It’s constantly being updated and developed, providing a guide to the many business leaders up and down the country who know they need more tech but aren’t sure where to start.
Second, business leaders themselves need access to expertise and training. Only big firms have Chief Technology Officers. Most businesses can’t afford them and nor can they afford the fees of professional service firms who might fill the gap. We need, in every region and major town or city, a place where businesses can come for help when they need it – local hubs for business support. This should not just be government provided support. The private sector must play a role here. More than 100 of the UK’s best firms, including our best tech companies, have already committed to supporting Be the Business’ efforts.
Finally, there is the role of policy. Technology adoption needs to be at the heart of industrial policy. Levelling-up the UK’s companies, through improved tech adoption, is an essential element of levelling-up our regions. That means creating incentives for companies to make the right investment choices – for example, with a level playing field between investing in machinery versus software.
It also means making it easier for businesses to access finance to fund this investment. The UK has led the world with its Open Banking initiative to make personal bank account data portable, enabling people to switch their accounts cheaply and easily to improve innovation and competition. There is a strong case for doing the same with business data, making this fully portable and thereby enabling companies to switch vendors easily and cheaply to unleash finance and innovation.
The Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow famously asked: if technology is so ubiquitous, why doesn’t it show up in productivity statistics? We now know why: much of that technology simply isn’t found in many British businesses. Now is the time to technologically upgrade our businesses and our economy, building back not just better, but faster and smarter.
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Rolls-Royce set to tap investors for £2.5bn cash boost
Rolls-Royce is on the cusp of launching an emergency fundraising to tap shareholders for between £2billion and £2.5billion.
City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors, possibly through a rights issue and placing.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are believed to be among the investment banks working on the fundraising deal for Rolls-Royce.
Emergency: City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors
It had been thought Rolls-Royce may look to raise £1.5billion from investors. But sources claimed the blue chip firm is now seeking an extra £500million to £1billion, possibly from sovereign wealth funds.
The move to launch such a large rescue fundraising comes as Rolls-Royce shares – which closed last week at £1.80 – flirt with a 16-year low amid concerns about the company’s financial position.
Investment bankers last month told The Mail on Sunday that they had heard rumours the Government was ‘starting to get worried’, raising the possibility of state intervention.
Rolls-Royce – in which the Government has a ‘golden share’ that gives it the right to block a takeover – has been hit hard by the pandemic. In part that has been because the company operates a power-by-the hour model, where it sells engines at a loss and later receives payments according to how much they fly. This arrangement has left the company bleeding cash.
The firm is also particularly exposed to the collapse in long-haul travel because it makes engines for bigger planes such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and Airbus’s A350.
Rolls-Royce’s debt has been downgraded to junk status and major long-term shareholders, such as American activist ValueAct Capital, have been selling out of the company.
In a note to clients several weeks ago, David Perry, an analyst at JP Morgan, said: ‘An £8billion hole will need much more than a £1.5billion rights issue. We believe RollsRoyce needs to raise at least £6billion [through equity raise sales and disposals] to put itself on a sound financial footing.’
Perry added that the company’s debt pile will be almost £19billion by the end of the year. He believes that £1.5billion may not be enough to save the firm.
The analyst suggested that Rolls-Royce needs to issue £6billion of equity and this might not be possible by just relying on institutional investors. ‘We think there is a high chance of Government intervention,’ he added.
Aside from tapping stock market investors for fresh cash, Rolls-Royce is also seeking to generate about £2billion from selling divisions – including ITP Aero – over the next 18 months.
ITP Aero is Rolls-Royce’s Spanish engineering division that makes turbine blades for engines.
A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: ‘We continue to review a range of funding options to further strengthen our balance sheet.
‘These could include debt and equity, but no final decisions have been taken. We have already taken swift action to strengthen our liquidity with £6.1billion at the end of the first half of the year and a further £2billion term loan agreed in the second half.
‘We have also announced £1billion of cost mitigation activity in 2020 and launched a re-organisation of our Civil Aerospace business to save £1.3billion annually.’
Last month, the firm’s woes were compounded by the announcement that finance chief Stephen Daintith was leaving the business for online delivery firm Ocado.
Daintith has said he will stay for a transition period.
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Casino boss: 10pm curfew will hit night-time industries
The boss of Britain’s biggest casino complex has warned that a 10pm curfew would be ‘disastrous’ for night-time industries.
Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome in London’s West End, said casinos make half their revenue after 10pm, and a national curfew would force him to make ‘substantial redundancies’ among his 700 staff.
He already expects to make a ‘significant loss’ this year, after losing £1million a month during the five months the business was closed, and said the situation remains ‘fragile’.
Losing streak: Visitor numbers are down 80 per cent at the Hippodrome
Visitor numbers are down by about 80 per cent since the Hippodrome reopened last month.
‘The curfew poses an existential threat to theatres, hotels, bars and clubs,’ said Thomas.
‘It is an unnecessary over-reaction to Covid and it would be a disaster for London.’
Thomas owns about half of the Hippodrome, which has casinos, restaurants and bars on six floors of a 19th Century former music hall and circus. His 86-year-old father Jimmy owns 20 per cent.
He said he had worked hard to make the casinos safe, with gaming positions separated by flexi-glass walls, and the 80,000 sq ft premises prepared to receive just 400 people, down from 1,600.
He has raised £10million of Government loans and bank debt. A consultation on redundancies has started, but the number of job cuts has not been confirmed while 300 staff remain on furlough.
Thomas said: ‘It’s frustrating as the core business is excellent – the building is beautiful and a huge asset to London. We are very happy to pay tax, to provide jobs and entertain people – but we have to be allowed to do it.’
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