My sister recently ordered some trainers from Littlewoods, who use Yodel for their delivery. She was out when they first tried to deliver, so the driver put a card through the door with a handwritten note saying “I come back tomorrow”. But she was also out the following day, which is where things started to go wrong. The driver put another note through the door with the message “I take your parcel back” and a collection reference.
So she rang the 0800 number (free from landlines, extortionate for mobiles). No chance of getting through to a human even if you are paying for the privilege of ringing them, but she keyed in the collection reference and was told by a robot voice that her package was now in a depot. She had to confirm the date she would pick it up, again by pressing buttons rather than communicating with a human.
So, on the agreed day, she travelled all the way to the depot. The journey was from her home in Brixton to Vauxhall, which required taking the Tube and a bus. But when she arrived at the depot, the woman there told her that the parcel had been delivered to her home after all. On travelling all the way home again, she discovered that this was true – the parcel had been left with a neighbour.
So my sister’s 90-minute round trip, on a freezing day, had been completely pointless. She complained to Yodel and pointed out that she’d wasted £6.40 of her own money on travel fares because of their mistake. She asked for compensation - not for her wasted time, just for the money she’d spent as a result of Yodel’s error.
So she contacted Yodel and complained. They apologised, but:
I must respectfully advise that Yodel do not reimburse travel costs.
That’s a reasonable stance to take... if Yodel hadn’t caused this customer to incur the travel costs in the first place. But the fact is that the unnecessary money she spent was entirely because of false information given to her by Yodel – and Yodel are happy to admit this.
She wrote back saying their response wasn’t good enough:
I am not satisfied with this response.
Clearly due to Yodel's mistake (collection ref no on card, automated message) I was told my parcel was at the depot. I wasted time and spent my own money to get there. You can't give me my time back but I am right to want my money back. It is up to you to reimburse me. I would not have spent that money if it wasn't for Yodel.
What if I had been elderly/disabled and I had spent up to 2 hours and my money on a return trip to Vauxhall in the cold on public transport?
Please think more about the customer and do the right thing.
I would like a response to this email with details of how you are going to reimburse me.
Yodel decided to completely ignore this follow-up email and she received no response at all. So she challenged them publicly by tweeting the Yodel twitter account. Of course, the goal of the Twitter account isn’t actually to help customers; it’s to shut them up and stop them slagging off Yodel on Twitter. The Twitter guy was sympathetic but didn’t actually do anything to help. The reason given for not helping? She has a complaint reference number. Yes, you read that right. She can't get any help through Twitter because if she's been given a complaint reference number, Yodel's sytems take that to mean that the problem is already being dealt with. Even though, as I've just explained, "dealt with" in this case means "completely ignored".
So she’s given me her permission to make her story public. Let this blogpost be a public record of Yodel’s unwillingness to compensate one customer for the costs incurred by their own uselessness. Turns out £6.40 can buy you quite a lot of bad publicity.