Friday, 1 July 2011


I spilt tea over my laptop.  This wasn't your ordinary tea, though; this was your aspirational blackberry and ginseng tea, with extra ionic content.  I switched the laptop off immediately, but didn't realise, when trying to switch it on again the next day, that a blackberry-and-ginseng puddle of concentrated ions had gathered under the battery and not dried out.  I think that laptop's dead, now.

So, because, for various reasons I had been thinking about getting a new laptop, anyway, I went straight to Morgans, using the other laptop I have set up as a juke box that is / was (at the time) only a little broken.  Look.  I like computers and I like to have at least two working(ish) versions in the house at the same time.

Morgans came up trumps and I ordered the workhorse I was after; I really intend to keep it lean and clean this time.  Promisingly, the website said that the order would be despatched the next working day (this was to be Monday).  Happily, it would only cost £6.00 or so.  Worryingly, there was no way that I could indicate the day that I could be in, or indicate that I would like it delivered on a Saturday, even at extra cost.

So, I figured the laptop would be delivered on Tuesday.  I figured they would deposit a card, and they usually give you two attempts.  I could collect the card, then phone up and arrange delivery for Friday (that I already, fortuitously, had decided to take off).  That would work.

I cycled home, through the thundery Cambridge afternoon; no 'while you were out' card, and by this time the other laptop had gone into a state of sulk (which I have now coaxed it from, but that's another story) (Function F7; that's all I'm saying).  Never mind.  The plan to phone to arrange a second delivery on Friday is still possible, I thought to myself, and anyway Luther is on.

I arrived home on Wednesday to find two 'while you were out' cards on the doormat; one from Wednesday, and one from Tuesday that definitely hadn't been delivered on Tuesday.  I was furious. 

I emailed Morgan Computers to point out that they were employing a bunch of liars to deliver their stuff, and that one of the reasons I went to Morgan Computers was because of their demonstratable reliability and value for money; they were sort of blowing this if, for the sake of having a very low delivery fee, they employed a company whose ethics meant that a single person like me is very likely going to have to pay twenty quid or upwards in petrol and depreciation costs to drive to a depot 40 miles away to pick up the goods on what was otherwise to be a lovely day cycling into the Fen to look at the gravestones of some dead Americans because the employed company lies about how many deliveries it had made, and when, and that this would undermine their reputation.

Morgans, lovely people, emailed me back the next day (Thursday) to say "Very Sorry, we'll return the delivery charge", which ameliorated the situation somewhat, but not before I had been into the City-Link website to try and complain to them as well.

Firstly, when I looked for contact numbers on the City-Link website, or a way to complain, there was nothing at all.  The one number available sent you to a voice-robot, who insisted that I only had two options 1. to rearrange delivery and 2. to pick the parcel up from the depot.  I did try option 1., only to be told that I had already had my two deliveries, and so I had to pick it up from the depot; that I had no other choices. 

Obviously, I had had no such thing.  I had two cards delivered on one day, one puporting to be a card from the day before.  I was pretty furious at this point, actually.  This is possibly why City-Link has no complain button; it's scared of being overwhelmed with moans.  HOWEVER I had paid money for a service, and that service was not being provided.

I then inputted the delivery code to the website.  The tracking section showed that a delivery had been attempted on the Tuesday (it hadn't), and the Wednesday (when, presumably, the two cards had been delivered).  Strangely enough, it showed that the parcel had already been put onto a delivery vehicle for what I assume City-Link were trying to pass off as a third attempt at delivery (even though it was only the second attempt).

Because the website and the City-Link records said that I already had had my two delivery attempts, I was not allowed to opt for a third delivery attempt on Friday, when I would (probably) be in.  All I could do was to say that I would pick the parcel up from the depot.

Do you know of the eeriness and impenetrability of the Petersborough backlands that the City-Link depot calls home?  Be thankful that you don't.

Having strolled across the carless depot wasteland to find, eventually, the right hole-in-the-wall, I asked if I could make a complaint.  A very nice lady dashed away, and a rotund, jocular gentleman shortly took her place.  I explained the problem and that I thought that the driver in question may well have tried to deliver the first day, but had probably forgotten the card,  which was why he deposited two cards on the second dayt, but that was of no help to me as I had no notice of the first delivery, and that he was probably trying to do the right thing, with his third delivery, but that because of the way that the website algorithm worked, by this time, I was stuffed for arranging delivery on a day when I could be in.  He nodded, and said in a jocularly stern voice that he would speak to the driver in question.  I left, mollified that I had been taken seriously, but still very frustrated.

Because, you see, if the driver did make a mistake, forgetting to give me the card the first day, the City-Link systems are not set up to deal with a genuine (and probably all too-plausible) mistake by their employees.  Nobody is perfect.  A good company tries to ensure that makes don't happen by supporting their staff when they are new and making them feel secure enough so that they can admit mistakes when they happen, in the expectation that, as a result of the contract of loyalty, the staff make their best effort.

A good company certainly makes it possible for their customers to complain easily when normal circumstances have gone awry, for whatever reason.  City-Link appears to be doing none of these things.  I couldn't speak to anyone using the information given on the website and the delivery card.  I suspect that whoever delivered the two cards on the one day would like to have been able not to have appeared to try and deliver on the first day; his mistake locked me out of the system and make me unable to opt for a better date for a productive second or third attempt, and I suspect that he was unable to tell anyone that this mistake had happened for fear of being sacked.  Anyway, I ended up begging jocular gentleman not to sack this driver but rather to ask the management to take a look at their systems.

The point, or the moral, or something, being:  The systems for a company should be able to catch an individual employees mistake; the management of a company should not be so inflexible or inhumane as to prevent an employee admitting that they have made a mistake and allowing the company to deal with the results of that mistake, and the company should really have systems in place that make it easy for the customers to communicate with them; if that company has good systems in place and good employee / manager relationships then that company need not fear being overwhelmed by the information coming down any 'complaints' line.

City Link Fail: three stars out of five.  The excellent response when I asked to complain in person is what stops this from being a four or five star consumer FAIL.  City Link Website, however gets a five out five for FAIL.  Sort it out, delivery dudes.


  1. City Link are awful everywhere - apparently it's because they're all franchises, so the employees don't care as much as if it was, say Parcelforce or something. (ha)

    On Say No to 0870 there are some depot numbers, but nobody picks up the phone generally.

    Oh and complaints-wise, you'd be lucky to get any kind of response. We've had the same thing happen as you several times now, and there's no way of it ever being dealt with - every time a delivery is due with them my heart sinks every time!

  2. hello. Yes. I have no idea why companies use City Link. It seems like a crazy way to lose custom. I'd rather pay a couple of quid more for delivery and be able to nominate day and time and be able to count on it being delivered then.

  3. I've used Amazon Prime twice in my life. Unfortunately, they use City Link and on both occasions I've taken a day off to receive the parcel which never turned up. The first time I had to rearrange delivery to work the following Monday, so I didn't get my West Wing box set to watch over the weekend. The second time, I had to drive to the depot in Coventry in a blizzard to pick it up, as it contained all the Christmas presents I needed to take away with me the next day.

    Staying in all day for a delivery when you've booked a day off and want to do other things is a PITA. Seeing the status "delivery attempted" on the tracking website is a slap in the face. Having to drive 40 miles in horrendous weather because the driver lied about delivery is downright dangerous. Not delivering my WW DVDs is a crime!