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Why does this feel so wrong?

(44 Posts)
deliverydriver Tue 04-Feb-14 20:46:46

Ok, I have read a few threads on here, and I understand how negatively delivery drivers are looked upon, but I do believe I do a good job. I do try hard to keep the customers on my route as happy as possible, although this is sometimes difficult due to management decisions which I have no control over unfortunately. I have not become jaded by the job yet and it fits in with my lifestyle well, so despite the appalling pay, I have been doing this job for a number of years now, but I am having doubts lately as to some changes which I am not sure are even legal, so I am asking for some advice on here, I hope you don't mind.

There have been some recent changes, and the change which concerns me the most is the change regarding missing parcels.
It is a rarity for the parcels I deliver to go missing, but it does happen from time to time. Unfortunately, I have had customers sign for parcels who then deny signing for those parcels, although that is rare, it does happen.

Anyway, the changes that have recently been implemented by management mean that if a customer makes a complaint that their parcel has not been received, either because it was left in a safe place and they cannot find it or they did not sign for it, the delivery courier is docked their pay to the value of the contents of the parcel.
The customer must produce a receipt to verify the value of the goods, and hey presto, the delivery courier is docked by that amount in their pay.

I work with a number of delivery couriers, and we are all now subject to this new rule. Two of the drivers have already had money deducted from their pay, despite an investigation into the missing parcel never taking place. In fact, on both of these occasions, the drivers were not given any prior warning that their money was going to be reduced for any reason. They only knew when they received their invoice.

I do not earn much money when all is said and done and I cannot afford to lose money without any notice that this is going to happen. I would have no chance to make it up before I knew.

Management have been asked if they are claiming via insurance for these parcels as well as docking the driver and as yet, no reply has been forthcoming from management, so it is a possibility as far as I am aware at the moment.

It just seems wrong to me. This does not only affect drivers who have a high level of missing parcels, but every single delivery courier.

All the delivery drivers who work alongside me are self employed as I am.

Is this even legal? TIA for any responses.

Catsize Tue 04-Feb-14 20:49:16

Oh my word! Sounds pretty shocking. Watching with interest, but just wanted to say shock
Do name and shame...

Tryharder Tue 04-Feb-14 20:52:16


Unfortunately, there are many dishonest people.

If it's your word against theirs, what happens?

Is there not some way of keeping tally of how many missing parcels someone claims to have so they can eventually be blacklisted?

Iwannalaylikethisforever Tue 04-Feb-14 20:55:15

Is this a ploy to make any guilty parties who conduct themselves as you have described, think twice before keeping parcels without paying?

littledrummergirl Tue 04-Feb-14 20:57:30

It would need to be written in your contracts that they can deduct for this. If it is not then they are breaking the law. You would have recourse.

Crowler Tue 04-Feb-14 21:01:02

Do you have any choice in leaving the parcel in a "safe place"?

If not, that's madness.

exexpat Tue 04-Feb-14 21:01:55

I can see both sides here. You have presumably read all the threads about delivery drivers (mostly Yodel/HDNL) leaving things on doorsteps in full view where they not surprisingly get nicked, leaving them in bins on collection day or with neighbours who deny all knowledge, chucking fragile things over garden gates etc. I've had parcels for me delivered to similar addresses within a mile radius, or just go missing altogether. Not surprisingly customers are not happy and claim refunds, and drivers who are that incompetent and careless probably deserve to lose pay or lose their jobs.

But I am sure there are also dishonest customers out there who receive things and claim they haven't - it's a big problem for ebay sellers at the moment - and of course in those circumstances it is very unfair for drivers to be punished.

Is there any kind of system to check identities when you deliver - double-checking signatures, asking for picture ID, taking a picture of whoever signs for something etc? Do you have black-listed addresses? Otherwise it is just a question of one person's word against another, and it is obviously much easier for the company to claim the money back from the person working for them.

I'd probably be looking for another job if I had that threat hanging over me, I think.

NatashaBee Tue 04-Feb-14 21:02:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

deliverydriver Tue 04-Feb-14 21:03:54

We are all shocked too and a number of drivers have threatened to walk out, although realistically, without another job to go to, it probably isn't the wisest idea to make a snap decision like that.

There are other rules that have been implemented too, which are barking mad in my opinion, such as we are no longer permitted to hand parcels over to a customer at the doorstep without a signature, even if the parcel does not necessarily require a signature. We must leave the parcel in a designated 'safe' place instead.
Whilst this sounds reasonable, in practice, it is not always as simple as it sounds. For example, I have a number of disabled customers and a few blind customers. Those customers are not easily able to sign for their parcels, and delivery drivers are not permitted to write 'blind' or 'disabled' in the signature box. We are not permitted to write anything in the signature box, so the same rules apply to these customers. We cannot hand them the parcel, we have to either return the parcel as unsigned for (if it requires a signature) or leave it in a designated safe place, not hand it to the customer at the door.

We have also been instructed to ignore requests from customers such as 'Please leave in parcel box/in metal bin in back garden/behind low wall in porch/behind bins.'
I know my customers quite well and I have customers who request I leave their parcels in those places. I am no longer permitted to do so. Instead, I must return the parcel to the depot.

We can only leave a parcel in a porch if it does not require a signature and it is a locking porch which has been left unlocked. confused
I do not have many customers who leave their porches/sheds/garages unlocked so this is going to possibly create a problem for some customers who have been happy with my delivery service so far.

HearMyRoar Tue 04-Feb-14 21:06:13

This is shocking imho. I would seek some legal advice. Possibly a silly question but is there a union you could go to?

Also I would refuse to leave parcels in safe places from now on. Delivery to person named on the parcel only.

Happypeeps11 Tue 04-Feb-14 21:07:49

That sounds awful. I think They should say no sign no parcel, if they want to implement this!

Happypeeps11 Tue 04-Feb-14 21:10:29

I had a friend that denied receiving a parcel once , as it was chucked over 6ft high electric gates and the courier would never have known if it was breakable!

Dollslikeyouandme Tue 04-Feb-14 21:11:59

For what it's worth I've always found delivery drivers to do a fab job. They've only ever left in a safe place if requested.

I do however know of a few people who have pretended their parcel wasn't received so think the rule is very unfair.

phantomnamechanger Tue 04-Feb-14 21:21:03

sounds very unfair to me but surely the solution to this is dead simple - just get photos of the handover of the goods, as well as signature. easy peasy with modern technology.

If the customer opts for it to be left in a "safe" but open to the public place, then they lose the right to any claim if the parcel goes missing.

ButICantaloupe Tue 04-Feb-14 21:24:14

Might be worth posting this on the "Employment issues" section. There are some very knowledgable posters there smile

deliverydriver Tue 04-Feb-14 21:28:31

Tryharder - The company is taking the word of the customer without consulting the driver at all. There is no investigation as to what has happened to the parcel. The driver has not had the opportunity to defend themselves or explain. One parcel that was deemed to have gone missing was put over a locked garden gate. This was at the request of the customer, if they were not in. The parcel was soft and appeared to contain clothes. The customer claimed they did not receive the parcel.

I cannot explain further because I acknowledge that I was not the driver who this happened to, and I was not with this driver at the time.
I can only say this is what management and the driver told us. This driver had his money docked.

Iwannalaylikethisforever - I don't believe this is a ploy to make any guilty parties think twice before keeping parcels without paying, because the customer has always been entitled to recompense for the missing parcel in the form of a replacement or a refund. The only difference is that the driver is now footing the bill, unbeknown to the customer.

littledrummergirl - Thank you for your post. Does this apply even if the drivers are self employed?

Crowler - I'm afraid I don't understand your question. If a parcel is deemed to be a 'safe place' parcel, we either have to obtain a signature for this parcel despite being paid no extra money for the time it takes, or we have to leave the parcel in a designated safe place, irrespective of the customers instructions.
At the moment, designated safe places are 'secure porch, secure shed, secure greenhouse, letterbox'.
So effectively, I could post a parcel in a letterbox, but not in a parcel box, but I am forbidden from handing the parcel to the customer when they open their front door. I am not sure how I am supposed to leave a parcel in a secure porch/shed/greenhouse. I don't think management have thought of that. I think they mean if the porch/shed/greenhouse has a lock, but is unlocked. I have not had verification of this, despite asking.

exexpat - I completely understand where you are coming from. More care does need to be taken, I agree.
Out of all the places you have listed, we are encouraged to leave parcels with neighbours.
Management track our exact location when delivering a parcel, and they claim to check signatures, but various people can sign for parcels upon delivery, whether that is a workman in your house, a friend, your husband, wife, child, mother, sister, childminder, nanny, grandmother, au pair etc.
We do not take pictures of people who have signed, and although I think this is a good idea, how many people are going to be happy to pose for a picture?
We do have black listed addresses, but these are few and far inbetween, and an address can be blacklisted because an online account has been hacked, not necessarily because a customer has been fraudulently obtaining parcels and not paying for them.

It is indeed their word against ours, which does not foster good relations between delivery drivers and customers in my opinion.

NatashaBee - Thank you, I will look at that link.

wyldchyld Tue 04-Feb-14 21:48:22

deliverydriver - is it Hermes you work for by any chance?

deliverydriver Tue 04-Feb-14 22:10:00

Thank you for all of the answers so far.

I appreciate this will probably be an unpopular thing to say but I am trying to be as transparent as possible.

Obtaining signatures is not a problem. The problem is that we are paid per delivery, and to make ends meet, most drivers need to take between 60 and 100 parcels per day. If you consider that we are paid between 50p and 70p per parcel, this equates to between £50 and £70 per day, if we take 100 parcels and successfully deliver them all, which most of the time is not possible due to people not being in, or no safe place to leave parcels.
The average amount of parcels which are delivered in 1 hour is approxiametely 10. That is 6 minutes per parcel to drive to the location and deliver. (Employed drivers are allowed 10 minutes per drop, any longer and they are liable for non payment of delivery, however I am not an employed driver, so this does not apply to me.)
To deliver 100 parcels, this can take 10 hours, if you consider that we usually have a fairly even mixture of safe and signature parcels and taking into account driving between the addresses takes a few minutes at a time, hence the 10 minutes per delivery. And of course, we sort our own parcels at the depot before we leave the depot, which we are not paid to do, although it is expected of us, and we need to pick parcels up before we can deliver them so there is no negotiating on sorting parcels before delivery. This all adds up to a minimum of a 12 hour day.

There is no denying that a safe place parcel is usually a swifter delivery. I park, jump out of my vehicle, scan the parcel, walk to the door, knock on the door, wait for an answer, and whilst waiting, I am looking for a safe place. If no one answers the door, I pop the parcel in a safe place, scribble a card out and post it in the letterbox.

If I require a signature, I park, jump out of my vehicle, scan the parcel, walk to the door, knock on the door, wait for an answer, and if there is no answer, I walk to the neighbours, knock on the door, wait for an answer, and if there is no answer, walk to the other neighbour, knock on the door, wait for an answer, and hopefully, someone will answer, at which point, I go through the option on my electronic gizmo . . leave parcel with neighbour tick. . . enter door number or address tick . . . enter surname of neighbour tick . . . ask neighbour to sign. . . tick . . .--possibly take a photograph of recipient holding said parcel-- write a calling card out detailing which neighbour I have left parcel with tick . . . go back to original address and post card through letterbox. . . tick. . .return to car for next delivery.
This process takes a longer time, depending on how many doors we knock on, and how long the neighbours or customer takes to answer the door.

If I were to obtain a signature, or indeed a photograph as well as a signature of every customer, first of all, occasionally customers will still deny they accepted the parcel, so a photo would need to be of them actually holding the parcel with name and address clearly showing, or at least a photo of the parcel where the parcel is easily identifiable. We do deliver a lot of similar looking parcels for example.
Secondly, it will take at least 13-15 minutes per delivery, and when I have 100 parcels to deliver, my working day has increased overnight from a 12 hour day, to possibly a 25 hour day, which is an impossibility.

We have been told we will be paid no more for obtaining signatures on safe place parcels as we would if we leave them in a safe place, so many drivers are loathe to double their working day for no extra pay.

I accept it is the responsibility of the company to increase the rate of pay if they want us to go the extra mile for every parcel, but this is where we are at right now I'm afraid. I am just trying to be honest with you.

deliverydriver Tue 04-Feb-14 22:13:42

wyldchyld - I am not convinced it is a good idea to name and shame just yet, since I am a little concerned as to what they can do once they get wind of this thread, but rest assured they will know who they are as soon as they read this.

Despite having only told the truth, it does not put them in a particularly good light, and I'm not sure what they could do once they see this.

CrispyHedgeHog Tue 04-Feb-14 23:06:54

No advice but this is shocking, and I know what a hard job it is having had an ex who worked as a delivery driver for a while.

All the best OP smile

littledrummergirl Tue 04-Feb-14 23:25:30

Anything like that should be in your contract. Thats the bit that is important.
It could be more complicated to claim at employment tribunal but there are other routes.
Have a good read and take it to cab. They will have someone to advise you.
Check your home insurance for legal cover and if you are in a union then speak to them.
Dh used to be in your line of work so I have a good idea of where you are coming from.

Dromedary Tue 04-Feb-14 23:30:19

I wonder whether you are actually self-employed. Might be worth checking whether you might not legally be an employee, which means more rights.

foreverondiet Tue 04-Feb-14 23:39:06

Well, I am very happy when parcels are left with our neighbours, and very annoyed when they are thrown over our side gate - often getting wet and even ruined. Also have had parcels not being delivered. Its a bit of a hard one and i think in the days of mobile phones should be better system, eg when they get to your house and you not in, they should text you and ask - come back in a couple of hours / deliver to neighbour or leave in safe place and not just guess....

deliverydriver Tue 04-Feb-14 23:39:53

Not in a union. None of us are AFAIK.

I will ask for a copy of my contract.

bunchoffives Tue 04-Feb-14 23:46:45

I don't think it is legal to deduct pay unless they can prove the delivery driver has nicked/lost the parcel and it is in the terms of your employment contract that this will happen. Unfortunately the Tory bastards government have created a climate where employers are now much more favoured eg in employment tribunals so that challenging this would probably mean taking your employer to court and thus, of course, losing your job.

There are 2 suggestions - contact ACAS for advice and join a Union - TGWU or UNITE are good. Encourage the rest of the workforce to join to - 'united you stand, divided you fall'.

PS if your hours are set by the employer and you do not negotiate your rate of pay you are deemed to be employed whether your employer agrees or not. (ACAS can advise on this too) You may be able to use this as leverage when speaking to your employer about unfair deductions from pay.

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