Coronavirus and how it affects your delivery

Coronavirus and your delivery

Strange days, huh?

Yes, we know. As terrible and devastating as it has been, and still is, you're sick of hearing about it. So why are we talking about it again? We all want it to go away and we've all had enough of it, and with the release of antivirus drugs it looks like there will be light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel.

But unfortunately some people want it to go away now. Of course, we all do. But some people seem to be burying their heads in the sand and are trying to convince themselves there really are no major problems. Maybe those people actually believe that. Who knows? Well this article is about what it is really like.

The sad reality is that we are still in the midst of the biggest crisis the world has ever seen since the end of the Second World War. The reality is it has affected all of us in some way, from people who have lost their jobs to the shocking fact that now over 120,000 in the UK alone have lost their lives to the coronavirus. That is the stark reality.

"So what does that have to do with me?"

We're sure many of you are asking that, and the answer is, among the many things badly affected by the effects of the pandemic, deliveries have been among the worst hit of those services that are still operating.

This is the reality, updated at the beginning of March 2021: Royal Mail have many sorting offices that are running on reduced staff, partly because some staff have been furloughed, partly because some staff have been taken ill with the virus - no really, it's true, Royal Mail workers are not immune - and partly because of social distancing measures at work which have made it necessary to reduce staffing levels in many depots.

This means that although staff are working harder than ever before to try to keep mail moving, there will be delays in many areas. Let me repeat that. There WILL BE delays.

But it gets worse. Lockdowns and store closures have meant that more people than ever are now buying online. Carriers like Royal Mail may be able to recruit some temporary staff here and there to help, but they also need vehicles, and more space and equipment to sort the mail. In otherwords, there's no quick fix and Royal Mail in particular are currently at breaking point, with many staff as exhausted as many of the NHS staff are, due to the continued influx of mail and pressure to get it all delivered as soon as possible, if not what many of you, wrongly in my opinion, consider to be "on time". I'll expand on that later.

"Yes, but that's pretty obvious, why are you telling us all this?"

Well we think it's pretty obvious too. But we're telling you this because for some people, it isn't obvious at all. Some people seem to think there's "no problem". Some people seem to think that the moment the end of a lockdown period is announced, everything magically goes back to normal - whatever that is!

Why does this matter? Because some people think they're going to get their order tomorrow. Some people think that if they pay for Next Day delivery, the service will magically override all the problems mentioned above, the carriers will drop everything and make sure that their parcel gets to them when they believe it was "promised" to them.

Some people think that because all their other mail arrived "on time" that nothing else is going to be late (quite how they know that their mail arrived "on time", unless they new exactly when each item of mail was posted, is a question you'll have to ask them).

Some people think that their area hasn't really been affected by Covid-19, so they should not have any problems with their deliveries. Well unfortunately, those people are very, very wrong. ALL services are affected to some degree, and just like the virus, some areas are hit harder than others.

It doesn't matter what service you use, or which carrier we use, there are huge backlogs and delays ALL OVER the country and you're not going to override it by choosing what would normally be a faster service.

It doesn't matter if your area is in a lovely state of beautiful coronavirus-free calm. Because your mail has to travel through different depots, at different times, all of which will have been affected to different degrees. Some will be relatively quiet, others will be overwhelmed. Frankly we're staggered that people do not seem to understand this basic fact, but sadly it's true.

Because other items arrived "on time" means, well it means absolutely nothing.

We've had one customer screaming down the phone at our staff because he ordered late night on Black Friday and couldn't understand why his order wasn't there on Monday morning. We know it's frustrating, but it is completely unacceptable, especially for a situation we have no control over. We're not even a courier company. We simply arrange delivery on your behalf, like every other online retailer. 

We've had plenty more who seem to think there are no problems whatsoever, and have accused us of using Covid as an excuse. I can't even comprehend that, and it is frustrating and disappointing to be having to respond to messages on a daily basis from people who incredibly, cannot understand why their order has not arrived a day or two after they ordered it.

Quite apart from the fact that they are not even taking into consideration that we do not simply jump into a car and rush off to the post office the moment they place an order. We do endeavour to get all orders sent out same day by 2 pm. weekdays and 10 a.m. Saturdays. And yes, we do prioritise First Class and Express/Special Delivery. But despatch times are not set in stone and but it is not set in stone and entirely depends on how busy we are, as with any business. We are not an emergency service. Indeed, why anyone would think that we would even want to is a mystery to us. We get orders out as quickly as we possibly can because if we don't we get a backlog of our very own, then the job just gets harder. And sending messages after a day or so asking where your order is just adds to the workload and delays things even further. It doesn't make any sense. 

Some people even think that retailers are using the pandemic as an excuse. An excuse for what? What do you think we're all actually doing if we're not packing and posting orders? Why would we want to accumulate a backlog of orders deliberately and invite even more "Where's my item?" queries? 

Incredibly I now find myself adding to this blog after one clown - sorry but there is no other word - insists that he always gets his items delivered to France, from "anywhere in the UK" - his words - in 3 days. Yes, in three days! 

This despite the following:

  • Royal Mail hampered by furloughed staff, sorting office reduced working and some closures throughout the year. 
  • Vastly increased numbers of items sold online - we're talking in the millions - especially during the lockdown periods, with a reduced level of service available to deal with it all.
  • Huge backlogs building up following the Black Friday weekend and Christmas sales, with Royal Mail management (finally) admitting it was far busier than they expected and they were caught out.
  • Reduced numbers of flights causing even further delays for international items, as there are not enough flights to carry the volumes of mail.
  • EIGHT warehouses hired around the country to store the mail that the carriers have been unable to sort.
  • An admission by them that millions of items of mail will not be delivered in time for Christmas, and even the Special Delivery Next Day guarantee has been suspended.
  • A blockade of routes into France from the UK by the FRENCH government worried about the spread of the latest reported strain of the virus.

So basically this clown, who lives in another country, expects his mail in three days when Royal Mail admit they can't even get UK mail delivered in that timespan, even if you've paid for their most expensive, most efficient Special Delivery service.

Now we can understand him being a little naive, not living in the UK, but we tried to explain this in full on no less than SEVEN different occasions, very thoroughly explaining all of the above and even sending several of the many press reports explaining how bad the situation is (just do a search for "Royal Mail delays" and you'll see what I mean), yet despite this he accuses my staff of lying, still thinks we're making excuses and chooses instead to bury his head in the sand, simply refusing to accept that his item could possibly have been caught up in the backlog, and then ends up posting threats online. What are these people on?We'll no doubt get our first negative feedback on eBay in over two years as a result - that's how efficient we usually are - but what are we supposed to do when someone is that stubborn and refuses to accept the reality of the situation? 

Not convinced? Read this article from the Daily Mail from 12th January:

Homes are left without mail for up to a MONTH in 28 delivery 'blackspots' due to coronavirus | Daily Mail Online 

In some ways I am surprised and disappointed that we even find it necessary to post this advice under the current circumstances, but please, do be prepared for delays, do be realistic about the situation and if you do need to inquire about the status of your order, please be polite and be patient and at least allow a few days after the expected date of delivery, because we can't do anything about it. Treat our staff the way you would expect us to treat you and your family. That is all we ask.

We will continue to do whatever we can to offer you the same great service you have come to expect of us, but there is no miracle, we can not wave a magic wand and this isn't going away anytime soon. In fact we can't really do anything except pack and post, and hope your order reaches you quickly and safely. Then we can all go back to liking each other and all be happy like we used to be 😊 

Do understand that we will not tolerate abuse, ignorance or arrogance in any form. We do not operate a delivery service, we can't do anything to get your order to you any faster, and we can't tell you where it is. That does not warrant threatening and abusive behaviour for ANY REASON so just don't do it. This is a frustrating and difficult time for everybody so please try to understand and appreciate that, the reality of the situation as it is.

Let's just all hang in there, stay safe and be patient and understanding to others, and we'll get through this. And please remember, many people have suffered a lot more than just a delayed delivery. Thank you if you made it this far. 

Thank you. 

Gary Seymour,

1st Mobile UK