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In My View by Eric Musgrave: Yodel shows how not to do customer service

Eric Musgrave
15 July 2022

Why can’t customer helplines be more helpful?

How often do chief executives or “customer experience directors” actually do a test run on the so-called “service” they offer paying customers?

Do they have any conception of how annoying it is to deflect or ignore simple questions from customers?

I was left pondering such matters recently after a farcical (and on-going) experience at the hands of delivery company Yodel.

Yodel claimed to have delivered a parcel to our house at 5pm on Tuesday 28 June, yet it offered us no proof of where it was left. My wife Jane, to whom the small parcel was addressed, was in the house at that time.

No card was put through the letterbox by the driver. Only the online tracker was updated to show the delivery had been made.

From Wednesday 29th June I contacted Yodel via its webchat line (twice), its customer service telephone line, Twitter, Trustpilot and, eventually, through an email to its press office.

Astonishingly, it took the firm 10 days to answer my simple question – where was this parcel supposedly left?

The missing item was a little flat box from gift company Moonpig containing a small bunch of flowers and a birthday card for Jane from my daughter (and her step-daughter) Genevieve, who lives in Dubai.

Having placed the order online with Moonpig on Saturday, 25th June, Genevieve was told in a confirmation message the parcel would be delivered on Monday, 27th June.

Genevieve contacted me on the evening of June 28th to ask if Jane liked the flowers. I told her we had not seen them. She sent me a screen grab of the confirmation of delivery at 5pm on the 28th from Yodel.

So began the sad saga of us trying to get Yodel to prove the delivery had been made.

As Jane works elsewhere all day and I work from home, I contacted Yodel’s webchat at 12:08pm on Wednesday 29th. I was online for almost exactly 30 minutes as the person at the other end – based in India judging by her name – insisted Yodel could not tell me where the parcel had been left because the name and address details I had supplied did not match the details Yodel had from Moonpig.

Frustratingly, she could not tell me which part or parts of the details were different but insisted the parcel had been delivered.

Separately my daughter also had contacted Yodel, which messaged her: “Have checked the tracking and can see that this was confirmed as delivered yesterday at 17:00. Can you please ask the recipient to check any safe areas and with the neighbours to see if this was taken in for them?"

I felt particularly annoyed I was expected to wander around trying to find the parcel when it would have been much simpler for Yodel to state where it had been left and to provide photographic evidence to my daughter.

We live in a detached house in a village with fewer than 20 houses. Our nearest neighbours are a few hundred yards away. If anything is left with a neighbour, they soon bring it round or send us a message. We did not have a Yodel account so had not designated any "safe areas". And my wife was at home when the delivery was supposedly made.

Against my better judgement, I wandered round to the nearest neighbour and asked if any parcel had been left with her. It had not. My neighbour also had been in at 5pm on the 28th. We looked in several outhouses and porches at her large property.

She observed that couriers firms could be unreliable. She struggled to recall the one she had had most problems with. Oh yes, she said, it was Yodel.

Back home, I called the helpline number supplied from the webchat exchange. This was also a frustrating exercise as the system kept telling me the delivery had been made and ended the conversation. It gave no option to speak to a human being.

I decided to contact Yodel’s press office. I do not like abusing my position as a journalist but the situation was driving me mad.

Sadly, when I finally dug out an email address via Google, the link to it would not work on my PC.

In frustration at 12:47 on the 28th I put an angry Tweet out and tagged @YodelOnline. I quickly followed up with a retweet in which I said: “I don't believe this parcel has been delivered. Why can't you tell me where the driver left it or show me a photo of where he/she left it?”

I then sent a Direct Message via Twitter on 1st July, asking @YodelOnline for a press office email address that worked.

Having emailed my daughter and received from her copies of her webchat conversation with Moonpig, I returned to the Yodel webchat on Saturday 1st July. Once again I was told the details I provided did not match the details on the system but was not told which one or ones were in question.

The webchat person was unable to give me a phone number for the Yodel press office. He ended the chat before I was finished with my questions.

Also on 1st July I posted an angry review on Trustpilot after a Yodel message had asked me to share my recent experience!

On the Saturday I discovered the mistake in the details – my daughter had addressed the parcel to Jane Eastoe, the name she uses professionally as a writer and one she uses much more than she uses Musgrave.

While this clarification was helpful, it still did not move us on any further.

In retrospect, it would have been so much simpler if the first webchat operative had said to me “We have a different addressee’s name” rather than the vague “The details do not match”. I appreciate there is a security issue to consider but a bit of common sense and assistance would have saved a lot of time and frustration.

Yodel’s response times to comments is interesting. My Trustpilot review stimulated a response the next day (2nd July) asking me to contact [email protected]

My email to that address prompted a reply on Tuesday 5th stating that they cannot deal with me because of GDPR and asking that my wife contact them. Using her email, I sent Yodel a message on her behalf.

Why didn’t anyone at Yodel tell me they could not deal with me before now?

My initial angry Tweet of 29th June has yet to elicit a response from the company.

My Direct Message on Twitter of 1st July got a response on Monday 4th July. On Tuesday 5th I was told via a Twitter Direct Message Yodel could deal only with my wife as she was the addressee.

My email of 1st July to [email protected], with Urgent Response Required in the subject box, has not yet been answered.

The missing parcel and card contained a birthday gift and message that was supposed to bring joy and a smile into my wife’s day. Instead, thanks to Yodel’s idea of customer service, it has brought nothing but frustration and a lot of my time wasted.

To end on a better note, while I was chasing Yodel in the UK, my daughter was contacting Moonpig from Dubai. Moonpig confirmed Yodel claimed it had delivered the parcel but “Unfortunately, Yodel did not leave a photo confirming the delivery”.

To its credit, the gift firm immediately offered to process a refund or to send out the order again, free of charge. My daughter opted for the second option and a parcel was delivered to us sometime on Saturday, 2nd July. We were out but it was left thoughtfully hidden behind a large plant pot by the front door. A note through the door advised of this.

There was more to come!

On Thursday, 7th July at 11.30am, 11 days after the originally promised date and 10 days after Yodel claimed to have delivered it, the original box of flowers from Moonpig was delivered to our house. The flowers were mainly dead and some were rotting. Thanks, Yodel. Great service (not).

Shortly afterwards that day I received a call from someone called Jason at the Yodel complaints department. Jason has a job like the person who follows a troop of cavalry with a bucket and shovel to clear up the manure.

He did his best to apologise for the lack of delivery. A mix-up with the driver, apparently. When I told him the rotting flowers had just been delivered, he was even more apologetic. That should not have happened. Yodel would have known the contents were perishable.

He offered to have some new flowers sent from Moonpig. He was a bit crestfallen when I told him Moonpig had immediately replaced the missing box.

He suggested my daughter contact Moonpig and get a refund. Yodel seems very keen on its customers doing the work to correct its wrongs. I told him we had spent enough time chasing around trying to rectify Yodel’s error.

I asked him why I had not heard from the press office. That was because they “elevate” complaints from journalists, hence his call. He did not disagree when I suggested the only reason I had received a call was because I was an aggrieved journo.

Similarly he did not argue when I said it seemed obvious the driver had just registered the parcel as delivered when he or she had never been near our house.

I was beginning to feel sorry for the guy as struggled to find a way, in his own word “to win back your trust in our company, Eric”. I told him I did not have any trust in the first place.

Finally, on 8th July the Yodel social media enquiries team emailed Jane, stating: “Please accept my sincere apologies for delay of your parcel and the state in which you received it. This is not the level of service we aim to provide as we strive to make the delivery process simple and enjoyable for our customers… After reviewing your tracking information, I can see that your parcel was manually updated as delivered on 28/06/22. Our driver may have experienced difficulties with their handheld terminal device at the time, however…”

Oh, really? I don’t believe the first parcel got anywhere near our house on 28th June.

What a dreadful idea of service Yodel has displayed. Judging by a couple of comments I received via Twitter, mine was not an isolated incident.

Have I just been unlucky here? Has Yodel acted well or responded appropriately? What should I have done or they have done differently?

As always, I look forward to readers’ responses.

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